Digital Trends Live: Netflix price hike, Starsona’s celeb connections, and more

With CES in the rearview mirror, Digital Trends Live, DT’s live morning show, returns to its regular format, and in episode 48, hosts Greg Nibler and Adrien Warner dove headlong into the tech world’s biggest news stories.

First up, calamitous news for Netflix subscribers: The streaming giant is going to raise its prices. The $11- and $14-per-month plans will increase to $13 and $16, respectively, while the $8-per-month plan will go up to $9. That’s the price customers have to pay to continue watching Friends, for which Netflix recently shelled out $100 million to retain the streaming rights, to say nothing of all the money Netflix has been investing in original projects. The decision is a controversial one — nobody likes to pay more — and given how many rival streaming services are popping up, one wonders if Netflix may lose subscribers over this decision.

In perhaps happier news, Nokia is back! (Sort of.) The ancient smartphone brand now exists under the aegis of a company called HMD, a company run by a number of former Nokia employees. Digital Trends’ Julian Chokkattu and Andy Boxall wrote an extensive feature on the company’s resurrection of the Nokia brand, interviewing numerous people involved in the deal.

Digital Domain’s Darren Hendler explains how to make digital humans

Later in the show, Greg and DT’s Emerging Tech editor Drew Prindle spoke to Darren Hendler, director of the Digital Humans Group at Digital Domain, a visual effects company that has had a hand in creating a variety major films. Among the company’s most famous projects is animating Thanos, the cosmic villain in Avengers: Infinity War.

“Digital Domain was founded in 1993 by James Cameron, Stan Winston, and Scott Ross,” Hendler explains, “and it was basically a company founded to create some of the best visual effects for movies. We just recently, last year, celebrated our 25th anniversary … besides that, Digital Domain does a lot of work on feature films, we do a lot of commercials, we also do a lot of holograms of maybe deceased celebrities and things like that.”

“We work with the University of Southern California. They have a scanning rig where we can actually scan actors’ faces down to their pore structure, so we know what each individual pore looks like.”

Starsona connects users to their favorite celebrities

Also on this episode, Peter Krapas of Starsona called in to discuss the company’s peculiar service: Starsona enables customers to pay celebrities to record personalized videos. According to Krapas, the idea sprang from a trend in the smartphone era.

“One of my partners works with stars all the time,” Krapas explains, “and he saw was people would come up to these stars at restaurants, in the elevator, and they would always pull out their phone,” hoping the celebrity might record a message for a friend or such. “In some ways, he thought that that was unfair to most people,” Krapas continues. “Part of what we want to do is democratize access to stars.”

Among the celebrities currently on Starsona are NBA player Paul George, internet personality Maddox, and someone called “Granny PottyMouth.”

Digital Trends Live airs Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. PT, with highlights available on demand after the stream ends. For more information, check out the DT Live homepage, and be sure to watch live for the chance to win occasional prizes.

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