March 17, 2014

Could Google Glass Revolutionize the Way Documentaries Are Made?

In 1960, the Eclair camera system revolutionized the way documentary filmmakers could interact with their subjects. As a result of this technological breakthrough, and the infinite possibilities of an unfettered handheld camera, cinéma vérité was born and handheld narrative films followed suit. Cut to the year 2014, and a new technology has surfaced that could once again change the way visual stories are told. I'm talking of course about Google Glass, and any other interactive eyewear that will surely come along soon. Even though Google Glass is mostly seen as a plaything for trendy techies, one filmmaker has already begun to tell stories in a way that we've never seen before, and the results are fascinating.

Josh Kim is a Korean-American filmmaker who has shot a few well-received documentary shorts and has directed videos for Google. Recently, he has been working on a project called Google Glass Diaries, in which he has given the futuristic eyewear to people of various professions in Myanmar in order to capture their unique view of the world around them. Each segment is incredibly short, but provides a magnificent first-person glimpse into something that would otherwise be nearly impossible to film by traditional means.

Here are a select few of Kim's first entries into Google Glass Diaries. First up, a sugarcane juice vendor:

And a kickboxer:

And my personal favorite, a fortune-teller:

Obviously the idea of a first-person camera is not a new one. It's a technique that, to a certain extent, has been in use for upwards of 100 years. However, these brief stories from Kim feel far more immediate and personal than any traditional first-person POV filmmaking. In fact, these short little entries into the Google Glass Diary are completely entrancing. There's an immaculate sense of immediacy that likely couldn't be captured in any other way, even with a GoPro strapped to these people's' faces.

Part of the reason that Google Glass could be a revolutionary tool for documentary filmmakers is that it takes away much of the facade that is inherently created by the simple act of filming a subject. Because Google Glass is an accessory that is meant to be worn, there is no need for a filmmaker to be present while the subjects are living and filming the story. This could potentially lead to documentary films that are far more personal and which contain footage that would have been impossible to acquire with previous methods of documentary filmmaking.

All in all, using Google Glass as a tool for filmmaking is an interesting proposition that comes with a slew of unique benefits, especially in terms of capturing captivating first-person narratives with unrestricted access to every aspect of the life of a subject (which might not be a great thing, but who knows). In the end, however, Google Glass is another tool in an ever-expanding arsenal of tools for creative storytelling.

Be sure to check out the other entries in the Google Glass Diaries, because they're all interesting.

What do you guys think of Kim's Google Glass Diaries? Could these futuristic spaceman glasses revolutionize documentary filmmaking in the same way that the handheld glasses did in the 1960s? Let us know down in the comments!

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[via PolicyMic]

Your Comment

13 Comments

Besides google glass, miniaturization of video camera's in general will change the way film/video is being shot. IMO this is especially interesting for documentary films and video.

March 17, 2014 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Erwin

I just got a pair of Google Glass but will be returning them. I thought the same thing about the different perspective. I don't particularly care for it though. It is fun and novel for the first 30 minutes then you just get better results from using other tools.

March 17, 2014 at 6:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Although other people may disagree, I believe reacting and interacting is a critical part of interviewing well. So not sure how great these would be at breaking down walls in an interview, you’d have to sit perfectly still for the footage to be watchable!

Of course there are more to docos than interviews.

March 17, 2014 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ant

Along those lines, I think it may be interesting to give them to an interviewer in far flung places.

March 18, 2014 at 1:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Charlie

No

March 17, 2014 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marie

The image from the camera is absolutely awful. My cell phone does better job. I wouldnt use Google glass for recording video.

March 17, 2014 at 10:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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hellboy80

This can be done with a GoPro or its imitators. I kind of thought that GG can be used as an in-eye monitor more, so a director or DP could control several camera at once.

March 17, 2014 at 10:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I think it works as a concept. When a player is wearing a GoPro, it can stand out a lot and will change the behaviour of the people around. If they're wearing glasses, then the true stories can be told. It's a lot more discreet. I know the camera looks crap, but it's about the story being told, not the image being captured. They're not really gonna have the new Dragon sensor in Google Glass are they? lol

March 18, 2014 at 5:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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+1

March 18, 2014 at 2:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel

The latter one looks like an enormous douchebag.

March 18, 2014 at 11:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

I don't like the concept of Google Glass. One, you look like a wanker wearing them in public, two Google is seriously starting to step over the line as far as breaching of privacy is concerned. Now Oculus Rift is very interesting for me but that is completely different. As for filmmaking I don't think it could be compared to the Eclair camera.

March 19, 2014 at 8:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jeff G

It's definitely going to revolutionize the porn industry too.

March 19, 2014 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Expanded peripheral vision! I could use this glass. http://www.cbronline.com/news/mobile-and-tablets/microcamera-shows-googl...

April 17, 2014 at 5:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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emilymainzer