CLOUDS, by STUDIO Fellows James George and Jonathan Minard, is a computational documentary featuring international new-media artists in conversation about code and culture, the shaping of technology and the future of cinema.
CLOUDS is the world’s first 3D, interactive, generative, documentary film. Shot entirely with Microsoft’s popular Kinect depth camera, CLOUDS uses a probability-based “story engine” to present an endless, ever-changing conversation about the role of computational thinking in contemporary arts and design. The interview subjects in CLOUDS are an intergenerational network of more than 40 artists and thinkers (including such notables as Bruce Sterling, John Maeda, and Paola Antonelli) who tell the story of collaboratively inventing open-source tools that form the foundation of a global creative culture and community.
Interviews with the artists are collected in a new format, called “RGB+Depth”, in which traditional high-definition color video is paired with 3-dimensional point-cloud information from a Kinect depth sensor. The result is a volumetric moving-image in a 3D space where virtual cameras can view the subject from any vantage point. After being recorded as point clouds, each of the artists has been given free reign to program expressive modifications of their own data, resulting in a collection of imaginative and interpretive self-portraits that straddle a continuum between realism and abstraction.
The new medium of “depth video” takes inspiration from the ideas of science-fiction visionary, Bruce Sterling. In one lecture, Sterling presaged the camera of the future as a passive device for capturing all the photons in a space, turning the act of photography – selection of angle, exposure and composition – into a purely computational problem. The subsequent release of the Microsoft Kinect has, for the first time, made implementations of this notion attainable.
In January 2013, the CLOUDS project had a successful Kickstarter campaign, and raised more than $34,000 towards its development from nearly 800 backers. You can view the Kickstarter video below:
Press about CLOUDS
1. Tribeca Film Institute – 2013 TFI Interactive: James George and Jonathan Minard’s ‘Clouds’ – 5/30/13
2. The Verge – ‘Clouds’: an interactive documentary shot on Kinect proves the future of video is not at CES – 1/9/13 or as PDF
3. WIRED – Clouds, a Documentary Shot With Kinect, Explores Beauty of Code – 6/8/12
4. Gizmodo – This Is What Happens When You Cross a Kinect With a DSLR – 5/2/12 or as PDF
5. The Verge – DSLR and Kinect combine to produce dream-like visuals – 5/2/12 or as PDF
6. Tested News – RGB Toolkit Skins DSLR Photos to Kinect Depth Maps – 5/2/12 or as PDF
7. CNET – Point cloud portraits bring ghostly 3D images to movies – 5/2/12 or as PDF
8. Tec Mundo – Programa Combina Camera Digital e Linect Paracriar Filmes Video – 5/2/12 or as PDF
9. Creative JS – Depth Cam – 2/28/2012 or as PDF
10. The Creators Project – Golan Levin Ups The Ante For Reddits IAmA – 2/1/12 or as PDF
11. Creative Applications Network – Kinect and RGB+Depth Filmmaking – 1/2/12 or as PDF