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Is anyone excited about Avatar 2, or is James Cameron’s 3D revolution doomed? | Movies

As far as we know, there’s no such thing as time travel in the Avatar universe, which is weird because there was a distinct whiff of 2009 coming off this week’s industry reports about a screening of the first trailer for the newly titled Avatar: The Way of Water. The Hollywood Reporter said delegates at CinemaCon in Las Vegas were wowed by the movie’s impressive 3D and high frame rate, which 20th Century Fox and Disney will be rolling out across the globe when the movie finally hits multiplexes in December. You’d think not more than a couple of years had gone by since the release of the original Avatar, a time when it felt like the entire film industry was about to go through a radical journey into high-end stereoscopy and accelerated frame rates. Unfortunately for Hollywood, it has actually been more than a decade since we last hung out with Jake Sully and his Na’vi comrades. Are we expected to get excited about this stuff all over again?

The problem with 3D is that it has had more comings than Jesus caught in a time loop. There was the original 1950s phase, then that brief period in the 1980s when Jaws 3-D landed at cinemas, and finally around 2009 when James Cameron seemed to think stereoscopic film-making was about to become more popular than the Beatles. In between now and then we’ve also had 3D TVs, which ran out of steam around 2017 amid a chorus of unbothered shrugs. As for higher frame rates, Peter Jackson was forced to dull down his Hobbit trilogy after viewers complained they didn’t really need to see Bombur’s blackheads in such excruciating detail when viewing An Unexpected Journey at 48-frames per second.

The making of Avatar 2.
Not drowning but waving … The making of Avatar 2. Photograph: © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved

Cameron would argue, and has many times, that the problem with such highfalutin tech is that only he is capable of executing it properly. As a result of Avatar, every studio started releasing movies in 3D because Hollywood worked out that it could add a premium to ticket prices for those screenings. Most of these films, unlike Avatar, were shot in 2D and then converted in postproduction, a method some studios claimed made no difference to the finished result.

This wasn’t always the case. Anyone unfortunate enough to view 2010’s Clash of the Titans in stereoscopy will be well aware that some conversions made for an experience roughly equivalent to having your eyes put through a meat grinder repeatedly for 90 minutes-plus. Others just gave people a headache.

Perhaps Avatar: The Way of Water will turn all this around, and we’ll suddenly start reaching for the 3D glasses and willingly paying that extra £3 all over again. But it seems unlikely. The problem for Hollywood is that Avatar movies seem to come along only once a decade (Cameron says Avatar 3 will arrive in 2024, but we’ll believe that when we see it), which means we’re probably going to have to sit through a hell of a lot of bad or pointlessly 3D movies before the next one comes out.

Having said all this, there’s something ineluctably attractive about the idea that you’re about to witness a movie that will look and sound better than anything ever seen in the multiplex. This is precisely why Avatar broke the world record for highest box office gross in the first place – it certainly can’t have been for its original storytelling – and why Greenwich Imax is usually a lot more packed out than the Odeon in Beckenham, despite tickets at the latter costing about a quarter of the price.

Director James Cameron on set with actor Edie Falco.
Director James Cameron (pictured on set with Edie Falco) seemed to think stereoscopic film-making was about to become more popular than the Beatles. Photograph: Mark Fellman

Avatar: The Way of Water promises to envelop us once again in the gloriously trippy flora and fauna of Pandora. This time we’re told we will be visiting a coastal Na’vi tribe and be introduced to various new water creatures, all of whom we can assume will still have those swishy USB-compatible tails that allow them to connect to Jake and Neytiri. We’ll also discover (I hope) how the bejesus Sigourney Weaver’s Dr Grace Augustine and baddie Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) are still alive, despite both having been conked in the previous movie. We might even find out why, on Pandora, Kate Winslet had to learn to hold her breath for seven minutes under water, despite playing a Na’vi through (we presume) motion capture. It’s all going to be splendid.

Will it reinvigorate the 3D/high frame-rate revolution once again? Let’s face it, the chances of this happening are about as high as Quaritch coming back as a sentient tree. On the other hand, this is a world where Gaia actually is a sentient tree that can be tapped up for a quick chat about the weather whenever you fancy it, as well as a world in which mountains float. Stranger things have happened.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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