David Knight - 24th July 2008

As has been reported everywhere already, Radiohead have done it again. Their new video, directed by James Frost at Zoo, was shot without cameras.

The video was created with two different laser-scanning technologies: the Geometric Informatics system - a scanner that uses structured light to capture detailed 3D images at close proximity - and the Velodyne lidar (light detection and ranging) system that scans large environments in 3D.

The Geometric system was used to capture Thom Yorke's performance, the female lead's performance, and several close-ups in the party scene, while the Velodyne lidar system was used to capture the exterior scenes as well as the wide party shots.

This highly experimental work is apparently the first video to be premiered on Google Code, a popular destination for the scientific community. And there is another fascinating dimension to this: after the controversial 'pay what you like' download offer of In Rainbows last year, Radiohead's latest innovation is to make the new video "open source".

Visitors to the Google Code page can download the data used in the promo to produce their own interpretation of the promo. And it's already starting to happen: there are at least two dozen new versions of the video already up on the YouTube group that's been set up.

Appropriately enough, the whole project came about in unusual circumstances, as James Frost explains in an account of the making of the video here and on the making of film.

James approached Radiohead directly, surmising that it would be this band above all others who would be interested in exploiting the new technology and embarking on what was effectively "an expensive experiment".

But he has used data visualization before, in his previous video, for Interpol's Rest My Chemistry. Frost co-directed the Interpol video with Mary Fagot at Zoo's sister company Blip Boutique.

That's where Frost and Fagot hooked up with Aaron Koblin, a data visualiser who enabled them to use data-mapping technology more commonly used for air traffic control in a far more creative way.

Rest My Chemistry is, at least initially, quite abstract, beautiful, powerful and wonderfully hypnotic. And the fact it was made meant Frost could go to Radiohead's management with the confidence he could pull off something as groundbreaking as the House Of Cards video.


Production CompanyBlip Boutique
DirectorBlip Boutique (James Frost and Mary Fagot)
ProducerDawn Fanning
EditorNicholas Wayman Harris

David Knight - 24th July 2008

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