Two new visual technology products hit the market last week that are completely different. What is unique about them is they extend what we as users can do with digital imagery both to produce and to play.
First, we have Gigapan robot that attaches to most digital cameras (you don't even need a fancy SLR) on a stand and tripod. Give it an hour and it will take over a thousand frames (in one shot of Hanauma Bay it took 25 rows and 70 columns of 1750 frames) to create a perfect fully pixelated image. The onboard computer calibrates and synthesizes the images automatically within the GigaPan producing a high rez, panoramic view. The result - no compromise in the image that is a full scale panorama which you can then slice and dice to pick apart the aspects of the scene from which you want to create additional high rez images. Check out the GigaPan website to see some incredible images and play with them yourself. Developed by Randolph Scott, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon West and NASA, and Illah Norubakhsh , an associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and their respective teams, the GigaPan will be released commercially by end of 2008 for under $500. [See NYTimes , "Sweeping Panoramas, Courtesy of a Robot", Anne Eisenberg, 7/20/08]
Next we have a very cool use of LIDAR 3D laser scanning. Normally used for scanning of large spaces, such as landscapes, cityscapes and buildings for architectural capture or film special effects [one use: LIDAR captures millions of points of data in 3D surround that enables animation special effects to be dropped in and placed exactly where desired], the system, which revolves 360 degrees with 64 lasers, was used to produce capture a close up of Thom Yorke singing , "House of Cards" for their In Rainbows record . Using different effects like water and mirrors to distort the data capture, adding in background scenic, color, melding it all together, they created a psychedelic video. Even more fun, we can play with the imagery. Of all the views, I like the 3D face of Thom Yorke which, as you move it around, seems to drip digital data.
With this data in hand, Radiohead did something which every good content producer does - maximize the long tail uses of it and, in today's day of Web 2.0 user generated content, let the people play with the brand. They created the video using known technology in a unique way, created a music video innovative in look, let the assembled data imagery be moved around by users, let people who want to interact even more download the data files and create their own movies, and then, upload those movies on YouTube at the House of Cards YouTube Group. The one comment I would have is that generating your own movie requires a bit more tech knowledge than most have, so including more instructions would be helpful. All in all, a mind stimulating look at how data can be revisualized. As James Frost, Director of the non-video music video says, this video is a "reflection of where we are in society where everything is...data driven is some shape and form. It seems that our lives are digital so in that way it felt apt."