Google has partnered with Radiohead to promote the band’s music video for the song “House of Cards” from the album In Rainbows.
It’s definitely not your average video considering that there were no cameras or lights used: it’s all data. The video uses real time 3D recording, utilizing structured light and laser-enhanced scanners. Google is hosting the interactive video application at code.google.com and providing an iGoogle gadget for the video and application.
The video was created by music video director James Frost, and the technology was handled by Aaron Koblin, who has done several other visualizations including the well-known flight pattern visualization.
To capture the 3D images, they used a structured light scanner from Geometric Informatics for the close proximity shots of the singers and a Velodyne LIDAR scanner for the landscapes. The LIDAR scanner uses 64 lasers to scan an environment and create an XYZ point cloud of data, which is then rendered and read by 3D software.
Radiohead got a lot of attention when it released its album In Rainbows for free online. This led to a lot of speculation about the future of the music industry and the way people will purchase music.
Since Radiohead identifies itself with the open-source ethos, it’s releasing the video’s data so that developers can remix it and make their own variations of the music video. You can download the viewers and data from the Google Code project page.
That page also has an in-browser data viewer for viewing and interacting with the video. The player is Flash-based, so you can zoom with the mouse wheel, or click-and-drag to move it around. The page also has links to the YouTube video, the YouTube group (for user-remixed videos) and the behind-the-scenes video.
This project may have interested Google because the LIDAR technology used in the landscape and large environment shots is similar to the system Google uses for their Google Maps Street View project. It’s just a very different application of the same technology.
Also see Aniboom’s contest where cartoonists are encouraged to create music videos for Radiohead songs.