Clouds is an interactive, generative, documentary that allows the viewer to explore different perspectives at the intersection of code and culture. Filmed using a new 3D cinema format called RGBD and created entirely with open-source software, Clouds uses a data-driven “story engine” to present an endless, ever-changing conversation.
The interview subjects in Clouds are an intergenerational community of more than 40 artists, designers, hackers and thinkers. They discuss the challenges of developing new forms of expression that resonate at a deeper human level. The documentary captures the story of collaboratively inventing open-source tools that form the foundation of a global creative culture. Interview subjects include founders of free creative coding platforms, such as Casey Reas and Zach Lieberman, as well as critical perspectives from thinkers like Bruce Sterling and Régine Debatty.
Clouds is not a linear film, but a real-time executable that generates sequences of dialog based on interactive input. Each of the interviews has been edited into individual fragments and richly tagged. An algorithm then leaps from clip to clip, creating new conversations on the fly, while preserving continuity of ideas and themes. Viewers use gesture and spatial interaction metaphors to chart a course through the rhizomatic content space.
Developed entirely with openFrameworks, the Clouds interviews are intercut with illustrative “visual systems”: real-time graphic modules contributed by leading computational artists and designers. Clouds also features a completely generative score, whose timbres and motifs are governed by the story engine as well.
Clouds is presented as an interactive installation where visitors select an initial question to seed the story engine with their topic interest. They are then presented with a stream of interviews and interactive visualizations illustrating a response to the topic. Interaction is done through gesture using a Kinect and a large screen, or through gaze when using an Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display.
The list of interview subjects includes Aaron Koblin, Andres Colubri, Bruce Sterling, Casey Reas, Chris Sugrue, Damian Stewart, Daniel Shiffman, Diederick Huijbers, Elliot Woods, Fernanda Viegas, Golan Levin, Greg Borenstein, Javier Fadul, Jen Lowe, Jer Thorp, Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Jessica Rosenkrantz, Joel Lewis, John Maeda, Josh Nimoy, Julia Kaganskiy, Julian Oliver, Karolina Sobecka, Karsten Schmidt, Kevin Slavin, Kyle Chayka, Kyle McDonald, Lauren McCarthy, LIA, Lindsay Howard, Marcus Wendt, Marius Watz, Martin Wattenberg, Paola Antonelli, Patricio Gonzalez-Vivo, Philip Whitfield, Rachel Binx, Ramsey Nasser, Regine Debatty, Shantell Martin, Sofy Yuditskaya, Theo Watson, Vera Glahn and Zach Lieberman
Clouds also features original visualizations contributed through code commissions by Shantell Martin, Zach Lieberman, Nervous System, Marius Watz, Karolina Sobecka, Casey Reas, Satoru Higa and Josh Nimoy
James George (US) is an artist who uses code to discover creative potential in emerging technology. Recently he has been applying computation and photography towards portraiture and narrative. James created the DepthKit, a widely used open-source software for exploring the application of depth sensing cameras to 3D cinema. James holds a BSc in computer science from the University of Washington, Seattle. His work has been supported through residencies at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, and Microsoft Research.
Jonathan Minard (US) is a new-media documentarian who approaches technology through an anthropological lens. His work follows cultural shifts at the frontiers of science and art, and develops new cinematic techniques for crafting stories of invention and discovery. At the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute he was a filmmaker in residence in a lab competing in the Google Lunar X Prize to send a robot to the Moon. He is a fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and the Studio for Creative Inquiry in Pittsburgh.
Directors James George Jonathan Minard
Executive Producer Golan Levin
Producer Winslow Porter
Design Director Bradley Munkowitz
Music R Luke DuBois
Featuring interviews with Aaron Koblin Andres Colubri Bruce Sterling Casey Reas Chris Sugrue Damian Stewart Daniel Shiffman Diederick Huijbers Elliot Woods Fernanda Viegas Golan Levin Greg Borenstein Javier Fadul Jen Lowe Jer Thorp Jesse Louis-Rosenberg Jessica Rosenkrantz Joel Lewis John Maeda Josh Nimoy Julia Kaganskiy Julian Oliver Karolina Sobecka Karsten Schmidt Kevin Slavin Kyle Chayka Kyle McDonald Lauren McCarthy LIA Lindsay Howard Marcus Wendt Marius Watz Martin Wattenberg Paola Antonelli Patricio Gonzales Vivo Philip Whitfield Rachel Binx Ramsey Nasser Regine Debatty Shantell Martin Sofy Yuditskaya Theo Watson Vera Glahn Zach Lieberman
Lead Visual Systems Designer Lars Berg
Lead Interaction Developer Elie Zananiri
Systems Engineer Surya Mattu
Visual Systems Development Patricio González Vivo Reza Ali Gal Sasson Omer Shapira Michael Allison Jeff Crouse Quin Kennedy
Interface Developer Luisa Pereira Charlie Whitney Jack Kalish
Interface Design Sarah Hallacher Erica Gorochow
Commissioned Artists Shantell Martin Zach Lieberman Nervous System Marius Watz Karolina Sobecka Casey Reas Satoru Higa Josh Nimoy
Julian LaPlace Tony Lim
Foreign Language Translation Keiko Uenishi
User Experience Consulting Jason Walters Mike Ballard
Web Development Mike Heavers
Additional Footage Provided by Future of Storytelling Conference Support received from CMU Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry CMU Center for Computational Thinking Kickstarter Microsoft Eyebeam Art + Technology Center Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program