Jul 142008

Radiohead has released a video for its “House of Cards” song that has the peculiar distinction of being a live-action video filmed without cameras.  According to the Google Blog post “No Camera, No Lights, Just Data“, the imagery was created using 3D scanning lasers and detectors.

The video, hosted online by Google, is visually interesting, but the novelty is quickly worn down by the poor continuity and distracting skips and flicker in the digital data.  As the imagery seems to have nothing to do with the lyrics, it feels to me like a case of tech-neato trumping content.  Your brain is so focused on trying to make sense of the visuals (with a flicker-induced migraine) that the music hardly even registers.  Was that the band’s objective?  Hide a dreamy but otherwise mediocre tune beneath artsy, scruffy digital pointilism? 

It’s true the video shows state of the art 3D digitalization.  It also shows how far 3D digitalization has yet to go, and how much of a chore data cleanup is.  If the flickers and jitters in the video are an artifact of the digitizer, shame on the data sampling team for not cleaning it up a bit.  If the jitters were added deliberately in post editing, shame on whoever thought that was a good idea.