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5 Classics Films Restored for the Digital Age

5 Classics Films Restored for the Digital Age

Movies made with photosensitive films and analog cameras until the 1990s had great details, but was also susceptible to dirt, temperature changes, and rough handling. As classics and old movies fall prey to the effects of time, content producers are digitizing to restore them.

With easy access to video on demand anytime anywhere, film producers and archives are leaving no stone un-turned to make the classics available to the viewers. While the film makers are setting new aesthetic standards with high quality and clarity of 4K resolution for restoring oldies, it comes at a time when watching movies on smartphones is more popular than DVDs or Blu-rays.

However, film restoration isn’t as simple as scanning the original 35mm film to produce a new version. It involves multiple steps like manual and automatic cleaning of the film to remove dust, scratches and other signs of aging, enhancing colors, sound and editing into single segment and adding special effects if necessary.

As the efforts are underway across the world to re-master and preserve classic films, we look at Hollywood’s past to list some of the best digitally remastered classics.

  1. Casablanca
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Credit: Google Images

With the Blu-ray 4K restoration, released in May 2017 to mark the 75th anniversary of the film release, the 1942 classic Casablanca never looked better. The scan restores the most dynamic and richest image and sounds possible, making the hard work behind the restoration job evident.  The film have been earlier restored twice for its 50th and 60th anniversary.

Casablanca, the winner of three Academy Awards, is a story of a romantic triangle between Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), his wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her ex-lover Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart).

  1. North by Northwest
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Credit: Google Images

To mark the 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s sleek masterwork, Warner Home Video restored ‘North by Northwest’ in 1080p from original VistaVision and made it available on Blu-ray and DVD. Each frame was painstakingly transferred into the digital domain at 8k for the restoration, revealing a depth of field and clarity that was unimaginable before, thereby heightening the thrill of the classic.

  1. Dr. No
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Credit: Google Images

The 1962 adventure of James Bond – his first adventure to be precise – is given a new life (and look) by the Lowry Digital. With a fresh 4K scan and clean-up, the remastered film in Blu-ray looks amazing with bright, clear picture, and sharp resolution.

  1. Gone with the Wind 
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Credit: Google Images

The new 8K scan of the 1939 Civil War epic based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel has cleared the dirt and age defects away from the classic. Although the image is soft at times, details shine through. According to the critics, this edition is the best the film has looked to date, and that includes the theatrical release.

  1. Sleeping Beauty 
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Credit: Google Images

Restored from the original 2.55:1 negative, the 50th edition of Sleeping Beauty is a beautiful rendition. The original soundtracks were converted from Berlin Symphony Orchestra to DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. Both the picture and sound quality are superb, making the edition better than the original version.

Some other classics that have been digitally restored are The Third Man, The Godfather, Star Trek Original Series Seasons 1 – 3, The Wizard of Oz, and Pinocchio. Remastering classic movies in 4K not only preserves the cinematic heritage for the new generation but also make movies look better than the past.

5 Technology Innovations in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

5 Technology Innovations in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup has always been the center of introducing new technologies when it comes to sports broadcasting. For example, 2014 saw technologies like vanishing spray, goal-line technology, and mind-controlled robotic suit in action.

As 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off, we look at the five technology innovations that will be used for the first time in the most significant soccer competition of the world.

1. Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

With the International Football Association Board approving VAR in March 2018, Russia is witnessing the first World Cup using video technology as an additional tool for referees. FIFA has deployed VAR at all the matches, where a dedicated team with a lead VAR and three assistant VARs is located at the Moscow International Broadcast Centre.

According to FIFA, VAR is used as an additional tool to “correct clear and obvious errors and missed incidents in clearly defined match-changing decisions.” 33 broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras are transmitting feeds directly to the VOR using optical fiber – eight of which are in super-slow motion and four in ultra-slow motion. VARs can also speak to the referees on the ground using a fiber-based radio system.

2. Electronic Performance and Tracking System (EPTS)

In 2018 World Cup, the coaches of all the 32 playing teams have access to a tablet-based system to track the statistics and real-time video footage of the players. Based on wearable technology, EPTS is a camera-based system that captures data via two optical tracking cameras on the main stand and selected tactical cameras.

EPTS is considered as the second significant innovation for FIFA after VAR. Each team has three tablets – one each for the analyst on the bench, in the stand, and the medical team. The system will also provide statistics around player positioning, passing, speed, and tackles, and match footages with a maximum of 30-seconds delay.

3. Adidas Telstar Ball

For the first time in the history of FIFA, Adidas, the official manufacturer of the World Cup match ball since 1970, has introduced NFC chip in the ball. Telstar 18 – the ball used for World Cup 2018, includes a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip apart from a new carcass and panel design. The chip allows the ball to communicate with a smartphone. Adidas claims that the new model will dramatically improve the performance durability of the ball.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) and 4K UHD Video

4K UHD videos that were tested in 2014 Brazil World Cup is made available to the broadcasters in 2018 Russia World Cup. BBC has confirmed that 4K streams of the match are available on BBC iPlayer on a first-come-first-served basis.

BBC has also made a VR feed available via its VR application to give the viewers a feeling of watching the match from a private box at the stadium.

5. 5G Services

Though yet to be available commercially, the 2018 World Cup is a testing ground for the 5G services for the network providers. Ericsson and MTS have confirmed to install 5G-capable radio equipment covering cover fan zones, stadiums, transportation hubs, and famous landmarks across more than 40 sites in seven of the 11 host cities.

Additionally, Megafon and TMS – the official communications partner, is holding trials of the 5G network across cities during the event.

While the players play on the ground, sports broadcasters are busy competing for innovations off the field to make the experience more real-time and competition more transparent. But for now, enjoy the game!

 

10 Web Series You Must Watch

10 Web Series You Must Watch

Thanks to cheap data plans, quality content, and competitive marketing, web series is officially thriving in India. Gone are those days when family members used to flock together to watch a series on television, and missing an episode meant taking updates from others.

Recent surveys also underline the preference for online content. A survey conducted by Chrome Data Analysis & Media[1] unveils that 44% prefers watching exclusive online content. An Ofcom[2] report suggests broadcast TV viewership by 4 – 24-year-olds fell 33% between 2010 and 2016.

A survey by the Diffusion Group (TDG)[3] reveals that SVOD services are more popular among 18-24-year-olds. Though 57% of those surveyed chose traditional pay-tv over SVOD, around 66% 18-24-year-olds and 54% 25-34-year-olds prefer SVOD services.

The disinterest in traditional television among the youth has led to the rise of on-demand services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu to name a few. The freedom to choose what, when, and where (in which device) to watch for a fraction of the cost of most cable subscriptions is one of the primary reason for the rise of over-the-top (OTT) content providers. The high rate of mobile and wireless broadband penetration also contributes to the rise.

With so many web series across various OTT service providers, choosing a host of ‘must watch’ is difficult. To make the task easier, we list the most popular digital original television shows based on audience demand across India:

1. 13 Reasons Why (Netflix): Produced by July Moon Productions, 13 Reasons Why is an American mystery teen drama web television series. The series revolves around Clay Jensen, a high school student, and his romantic interest Hannah Baker, who commits suicide after a series of traumatic and demoralizing circumstances

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Pic Credit: Netflix

2. House of Cards (Netflix): Based on a novel by Michael Dobbs, House of Cards is an American political thriller. First aired on February 1, 2013, the final season of the web series with six episodes will be released in 2018.

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Pic Credit: Netflix

3. Inside Edge (Amazon Prime): Based on Mumbai Mavericks, a fictional T20 cricket team, Inside Edge captures the world of cricket and entertainment. First aired on July 10, 2017, the Indian-American web television series follows the twists and turns in the lives of powerful characters.

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Pic Credit: Amazon Prime

4. Bose: Dead/Alive (AltBalaji): Spread over 9 episodes of 20 minutes each, the series is a well-researched story of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his allegedly mysterious death.

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Pic Credit: AltBalaji

5. Pitchers (TVF Play): Launched in 2015, Pitchers features in the IMDB’s Top 250 TV Series List. It traces the lives of four young professionals who quit their jobs to venture out into the wild entrepreneurial world.

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Pic Credit: TVF

6. Baked (ScoopWhoop): Produced by ScoopWhoop Talkies and Pechkas Pictures, Baked is an account of the misadventures of three university flatmates who decide to start a midnight food delivery service.

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Pic Credit: ScoopWhoop

7. Life Sahi Hai (Luv Films): Revolving around four guys, the sitcom explores the hilariously challenging situations they land themselves in every time they deal with their bosses, girlfriends, or each other. Living independently for the first time, they realize that their new-found freedom doesn’t come for free. The first season of the web series aired in 2016, and the second season in 2018.

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Pic Credit: LuvFilms

8. Stranger Things (Netflix): First aired on July 16, 2016 Stranger Things, set in the fictional town of Hawkins, focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy amid supernatural events.

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Pic Credit: Netflix

9. Sense8 (Netflix): The American web fiction drama traces the story of eight strangers from different parts of the world. These strangers suddenly get linked mentally and emotionally. The series explores subjects like politics, identity, sexuality, gender, and religion.

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Pic Credit: Netflix

10. Man’s World (Yash Raj Films): A ‘what if’ series, Man’s World traces the journey of a man walking in women’s shoes, in their world. The series, which portrays what if women treat men the way men treat them, is a comedy with an underlying social message.

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Pic Credit:YRF

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/739033/india-most-in-demand-digital-original-tv-shows/

[1] https://tvnews4u.com/70-watches-web-series-night-study-chrome-data-web-series-consumption/

[2] https://www.ibc.org/consumption/engaging-audiences-the-death-of-linear-television/2660.article

[3] https://www.marketingcharts.com/television/pay-tv-and-cord-cutting-79072

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Broadcasters around the world are exploring augmented reality ranging from stand-alone storytelling experiences to immersive broadcasts, and behind the scene, tours to enhance the viewing experience.

HoloLens[1] defines augmented reality as an offshoot of virtual reality that allows computer-generated graphics to be inserted into a real environment. With Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift and Google investing over $500 million in Magic Leap in 2014, the interest in virtual reality has fueled further.

Broadcasters are using products like Vizrt, Chyron, Brainstorm Virtual Set, WASP3D, Pixelpower, and Orad to make news and storytelling more interesting. For example, Al Arabiya used floating virtual 3D models of the Capitol and White House over an outdoor space to cover U.S. 2016 elections. The Washington Post covered the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore in 2016 by creating an augmented reality story.

Pic Credit: BT Sports
Pic Credit: BT Sports

In a series of firsts, BT Sport made UEFA Champions League finals available in 360° virtual reality on TV and online, 4K UHD on YouTube, and 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos. In 2017, the New York Times produced “Life on Mars” – a 360 video series chronicling the lives of NASA astronauts living on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, which had a Mars-like condition.

NBC made VR replays, highlight packages, and 50 hours of live 360-degree video coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics available on a wide variety of devices via the NBC Sports VR app.

Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK
Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK

BBC experimented with traditional CGI-based VR, 360-video, and AR. Both ‘Easter Rising’ and ‘We Wait’ are fully interactive VR experiences, which makes the viewer participate in the action. BBC also has an app with a range of productions for 360-degree video.

UK-based Sky partnered with Jaunt – a white-label VR distribution platform to launch a smartphone VR app to offer 360-degree videos covering material from film, sport, and the arts. Sky also used AR for their marketing campaigns, where passers-by at London’s Waterloo Station could take photos with virtual characters like Spiderman and SpongeBob Squarepants.

All the examples above highlight the fact that VR is gradually becoming an integrated part of many newsrooms. With technological advancements and cheaper options like cardboard headsets, 360-videos is becoming more accessible to viewers.

However compelling it might be, media brands are still holding off from making substantial investments in VR because of the following reasons:

  • Producers are still figuring out ‘what works for VR.’ Though news VR has expanded beyond documentary, there is still not enough content to drive the audience.
  • News VR is still not immersive. Viewable on mobile or a browser, consumers do not get the immersive experience that comes with a high-end headset.
  • Though some broadcasters are partnering with organizations like Samsung and Google for VR operations, monetization is still a challenge. News broadcasters are yet to figure out a way to earn revenue out of the technology.

The news industry needs to work together to deliver on the promise of VR. Though what lies ahead is still not clear, the future of VR in news broadcast looks promising.

[1] https://www.ibc.org/consumption/virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-in-broadcasting-/2807.article

Trends reshaping the future of news stations

Trends reshaping the future of news stations

2017 witnessed Israel’s Channel 1[1] nightly news ending its 49-year old journey abruptly. Closer home, NDTV took its English business news channel NDTV Profit[2] off the air in June. Regional (Kannada) news channel Udaya News[3] also shut down operations in 2017 due to losses.

In countries like the UK and the US, television viewership has declined on an average by 3 to 4% annually since 2012. When compared with the decline in newspaper circulation, there is a steep decline of 25 – 30% since the 2000s in the traditional consumption of news.

Though traditional television formats like 24-hour news channel and evening bulletins still cater to a large audience, with news being easily accessible in the age of digital media, television news providers are facing aging and eroding audience on traditional platforms.

Legacy broadcasters like PSB, BBC, CNN, RTL, ARD/ZDF, TF1, France Télévisions, ITV, etc. are experimenting with online video news to reach younger audiences in this changing environment. Print media, both in India and abroad, like the Daily Telegraph, Vice, Economic Times, Times of India, and New York Times, have started incorporating video as part of their digital strategy. The industry also has some pure digital players like NowThis, WatchUp, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed is focused on building an audience for distributed viewing via platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

While these are still on experimental stage, we list four key trends below that will reshape the face of news channels:

Mobile Journalism

Thanks to social media, even an ordinary man is a broadcaster today. The newsroom has evolved from being linear to circular. People know what is happening in the blink of an eye. With social media channels becoming a valuable tool to reach out to the potential viewers, news broadcasters are in a rat race to deliver news first across all available platforms. This has led to the emergence of mobile journalism.

Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report indicate a steady growth in mobile use for news. From newsgathering to production, distribution, and consumption, mobile affects every stage of news. Newscasters have started reporting live from the venue using applications like Skype, Hangout, Google’s Duo, etc. Mobile phone cameras are replacing DSLRs to capture superior quality images and videos to be telecasted directly. There is no time lag from ground zero to the living rooms of the viewers, as the production control room (PCR) patches the audio/video of the reporter with the anchor and he is live on-air in practically no time with his news report.

However, broadcasters need to realize that ‘mobile first’ journalism does not only mean rearranging the newsroom or having a responsive website, but about having hyper-relevant, short, and visual stories to tell. Content management system needs to accommodate new and varied formats to cater to multiple devices and platforms.

Distributed Content

Both digital start-ups and legacy broadcasters have started pursuing distributed video strategies. Broadcasters are offering content on third-party platforms without dragging users away from the platform they choose to be on. Analytics company Tubular Labs report BuzzFeed, NowThis News, and AJ+ among the top ten most viewed ‘creators’ across Vine, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Tubular Labs estimate that CNN generated 214 million views in January 2016 and Fox News about 172 million[4]. CNN’s ‘Great Big Story’ initiative is an example of how some legacy broadcasters have embraced distributed viewing, and one clear takeaway is that socially distributed videos should be different not only from television clips, but also from website content[5].

However, broadcasters need to address the challenges around monetization and the risk of losing a direct relationship with the audience while pursuing distributed video strategies.

Live Streaming News

Live streaming news is still in its infancy. While some breaking news like terror attacks and events like Olympics do see a spike in the audience, the regular news is yet to catch up. However, news agencies and broadcasters do realize the demand for content around live events.

Apps like Twitter’s Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook LiveStream are offering live streaming to witness events, where much of the content is offered by ‘citizen journalists.’ Broadcasters like BBC is developing its mobile aggregated content and live video stream – Newstream – that would offer both in-depth analysis and immediate stories. CBS News runs a 24/7 online live stream running content from the news division and affiliates.

However, broadcasters need to address the editorial challenges and the business prospects around live streaming to explore this trend completely.

Long Form

Broadcasters are also experimenting with a longer form of content, mostly interactive videos and documentaries to stand out in the competition. News agencies like Sky News and New York Times are experimenting with virtual reality, allowing users to have an immersive experience of major events from their smartphone. Vice, which started as a print magazine has built an online presence among the younger audience with its documentaries. Although the long form of content is yet to have mass adoption, producers foresee it developing into a mainstream application helping brands carve out a distinct identity.

However, the challenge is to find an approach that adds value to the longer form of content and stays beyond 24 hours – be it by being compelling, having a background, novelty or an angle to the story.

To survive the rat race and remain profitable, news broadcasters need to devise new strategies to reach out to the masses effectively. The news is no longer only about what is happening, but about how the common man wants to view and interpret what has happened and predict the future outcome.

[1] https://www.timesofisrael.com/with-two-hours-notice-and-after-49-years-channel-1-news-goes-off-the-air/
[2]http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ndtv-to-bring-down-curtains-on-ndtv-profit-117060101597_1.html
[3] https://tvnews4u.com/sun-tv-network-mulls-closing-operations-udaya-news-gemini-news/
[4] https://tubularlabs.com/yt/cnn, https://tubularlabs.com/fb/foxnews
[5] http://www.gulfcoasthurricanecenter.com/many-people-turning-away-local-news/
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Digitization

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Digitization

Digitization is a necessity today – both for restoring and making it searchable. Be it physical libraries or digital media, media organizations and content owners are investing in digitization and archiving of legacy content. Organizations often spend hours in recreating or searching for content that already exists. Aged and untreated content, discounting metadata, and not choosing the right storage solution often takes a hit on the broadcasters.

While you’re oblivious, artificial intelligence (AI) is changing this scenario. Think of personalized playlists on YouTube or Spotify or recommendations on Netflix and Amazon Prime; broadcasters are using AI to curate a selection of tailormade content.

Few weeks after Donald Trump was elected, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive aggregated more than 520 hours of televised Trump speeches, debates, interviews, and other broadcasts way back from 2009. Thanks to the Trump Archive, the footage doesn’t get lost in the crowd of news giving journalists, scholars and citizens a chance can track and analyze Trump’s statements on public policy issues.

Netflix claims to save about US$1bn annually due to AI technology’s ability to automate workflows and reduce customer churn.

After Wimbledon 2017, IBM Watson used a cognitive algorithm to produce highlight reels of what it believed were the best shots of the tournament. By automatically analyzing audio and video from the footage to identify highlight worthy shots and points, artificial intelligence saved hundreds of manhours of editors.

Here are five ways in which artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we archive, process, and store documents and extract information out of it.

Automated processing

Optical character recognition can recognize texts. AI can additionally read, classify, and automate workflows based on that information in minutes. Initially fed with a set of rules, AI uses machine learning to improve its identification and processing capabilities.

Data extraction

Data extraction reaches a whole new level with AI-powered document management system, which can accurately read the information and understand the context.

Document clustering

AI can also group unclassified documents based on topics, which can help organizations understand the documents within a larger context, find resemblances, and draw conclusions that would otherwise be time-consuming or impossible.

Advanced security

Document management system powered by AI can help impose user access. By using secure biometric techniques like facial recognition to identify employees who can access the data, it can prevent unauthorized viewing or alteration of documents.

Data analytics

Cognitive platforms as a service (PaaS) like Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services and IBM Watson apply techniques like predictive analytics, machine learning, and data visualization to analyze the collected data to improve decision making.

The way ahead…

At IBC2017, for the first time, AI was one of the main themes, which speaks loads about its adoption. Recently, a company named Ripcord has patented and built robots to scan and sort a box full of paper from business cards to legal documents and enter the contents into a searchable database in the cloud. As AI adoption across industries is increasing, we can only hope to see better and faster analysis, and improved decision making across the broadcast industry.

Cyber Security: Tips for Broadcasters

Cyber Security: Tips for Broadcasters

While the digital era has brought significant advances in technology, it has also opened the doorway to continuously evolving threats in the media and broadcast industry. Over 30% of media and broadcasting companies admit that they have experienced a cyber-attack of some kind or the other.

In 2015, five unreleased Sony Pictures’ movies – Annie, Fury, Still Alice, Mr. Turner and To Write Love on Her Arms –made their way onto torrent file-sharing websites. French broadcaster TV5Monde’s TV channels and social media accounts were hacked by a nation-state hacker in January 2015, costing the TV station millions of Euros.

In October 2016, Internet infrastructure company Dyn was hacked, affecting broadcast companies like CNN, HBO, Amazon, Yelp, and the Wall Street Journal.

Recently, in 2017, an anonymous hacker leaked some of the scripts and unaired episodes of Game of Thrones’ seventh season from HBO. The email from the hacker claimed a leak 1.5 terabyte of raw data from HBO.

Vulnerabilities and threats

The common security vulnerabilities and threats faced by the media and broadcast companies are as follows:

  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS): This attack occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth of the targeted system with traffic
  • Signal piracy: World Intellectual Protocol Organization (WIPO) internet treaties that would outlaw the breaking of anti-piracy locks on digital signals such as encryption and ‘tagging.’
  • The Cloud: The threat of data breaches and compromised credentials and account hijacking are some of the major threats to data on the cloud
  • Connected Devices (TV): More and more IoT enabled devices are setting up paths for ways to launch cyber attacks
  • Data leakage: the collection and monetization of an online publisher’s audience data by a third party without the publisher’s permission
  • Vendor System Vulnerabilities: Maintaining security standards across multiple vendors across the media value chain is difficult to achieve
  • Malware Attacks: (Malicious software) or a program code designed to harm a computer or its data
  • Ransomware Attacks: A form of malware in which the user’s computer files are encrypted. A ransom is demanded to restore the system or device to normal use
  • Piracy: Broadcasters can think of simultaneous global broadcasting as a solution to tackle TV piracy.

How to avoid cyber-attacks?

  • Monitor the social media accounts of the hacktivist campaigns that are relevant to your industry
  • Proactively monitor for credential dumps relevant to your organization’s account
  • Monitor for the latest IE and Flash vulnerabilities and ensure your site is patched
  • Understand which ransomware variants are targeting your industry, which delivery methods are most popular, and the CVEs the hackers target
  • Monitor for the registration of typo-squatted domains