Monday, July 14, 2008

new Radiohead video - made EXCLUSIVELY with Lasers alone - watch video and the making

In Radiohead's new video for "House of Cards", no cameras or lights were used. Instead, 3D plotting technologies collected information about the shapes and relative distances of objects. The video was created entirely with visualizations of that data.

Directed by James Frost
From the album IN RAINBOWS

Cameras? Radiohead don't need your stinkin' cameras. Last year Radiohead let fans download their album without paying a thing, and now they've shot a music video that doesn't use a single traditional camera.

But Radiohead's video for House of Cards is most noteworthy for what they use instead - lasers! In a clip that looks at once spectral, dazzling and eerie - not unlike the song itself - Radiohead and director James Frost have used Geometric Informatics and Velodyne Lidar technologies. The former is a method of 3D motion capture, using structured light to detail images at close proximity. And so we get contoured 3D versions of Thom Yorke's face, like the computer simulation of a mountain range.

Velodyne's Lidar technology, however, is a sophisticated update to radar. Lidar (from the acronym Light Detection and Ranging) uses laser pulses to capture and map larger environments in 3D. In this case Velodyne used 64 lasers, shooting 900 times per minute in a 360-degree radius. Ghostly exteriors and indoor party shots were captured in this way.
"I always like the idea of using technology in a way that it wasn't meant to be used, the struggle to get your head around what you can do with it," Thom Yorke said in a statement. "I liked the idea of making a video of human beings and real life and time without using any cameras, just lasers, so there are just mathematical points - and how strangely emotional it ended up being."

The video is part of Radiohead's promise not to make any "conventional" music videos for their In Rainbows material. Earlier this year they launched a contest where fans can pitch or create animated music videos for their songs. Now they are also making available the data used to create the House of Cards video, making it possible for fans to generate short clips.

When the site (hosted at goes live, there will also be a documentary of the making-of process and a selection of 3D-rendered scenes. [UPDATE: INFO IS BELOW]

Now that Radiohead have made a music video without cameras, we hope they will continue to push the envelope. Next time - a music video without visuals! Then one without sound! Perhaps Thom Yorke could just mail fans a cardboard box to wear on their heads, while they think really hard about songs like Reckoner or Nude. We can't wait.


Radiohead just released a new video for its song "House of Cards" from the album "In Rainbows".

No cameras or lights were used. Instead two technologies were used to capture 3D images: Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR. Geometric Informatics scanning systems produce structured light to capture 3D images at close proximity, while a Velodyne Lidar system that uses multiple lasers is used to capture large environments such as landscapes. In this video, 64 lasers rotating and shooting in a 360 degree radius 900 times per minute produced all the exterior scenes.

Watch the making-of video to learn about how the video was made and the various technologies that were used to capture and render 3D data.

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