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Beautiful Data by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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The Data Capture Equipment

The video for "House of Cards" wouldn't have been possible without some sophisticated data capture equipment. When you watch the video, you'll notice that there's a variety of scenes, from static suburban landscapes to dynamic point clouds of vocalist Thom Yorke singing. In order to get both the close-ups of Thom and the landscapes, we needed to use two different kinds of equipment: the Velodyne Lidar and the Geometric Informatics visualization system.

Velodyne Lidar

Velodyne is a company located just south of San Jose, California, that's run by two guys who compete in robot combat events like Battle Bots and Robot Wars in their spare time. The company produces loudspeakers, stereo equipment, and (naturally) powerful laser scanning devices, including the HDL-64E Lidar we used to capture the landscape and party scenes in "House of Cards." The HDL-64E's real claim to fame is that it was used successfully by several of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge vehicles, including the winning team, to achieve environment and terrain vision. In some cases, it was these vehicles' only vision system.

Velodyne's HDL-64E Lidar is a scanner with 64 laser emitters and 64 laser detectors. It spins in a circle, gathering data 360 degrees horizontally and 26.8 degrees vertically at a rate of over one million data points per second, which approximates to about 5 megabytes of raw data per second. By default, the Lidar rotates at 600 RPM (10 Hz), though this can be adjusted between ...

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