Press Junket for THE CLOUD CHAMBER MYSTERY (2013)
Cloud Chamber is an online mystery inspired by space and electronic music. By mixing fiction films, written diaries and electronic music with dreamy landscapes and documentary clips, Cloud Chamber creates an experience where users journey into the characters, back in time and out into the universe – all at the same time.
Users explore a media database; they examine found files and discuss them with other users. Only in this way will they uncover the story of what really happened.
Kathleen Petersen (25) is a gifted scientist being groomed by her father to take over the Petersen Institute, one of Europe's most prestigious scientific organizations. The Institute’s mission is to further scientific discovery for the advancement of mankind on Earth and in Space. Kathleen is being groomed to take over and lead the institute by her father, Gustav Petersen. But Gustav is a highly secretive and driven man with a secret: In the 1970s, he and his wife Ingrid discovered fragments of a signal inside subatomic particles. The signal seemed to be a warning to other planets with life on them.
Kathleen’s mother became obsessed with deciphering the meaning of the signal, and it came at a great consequence – leading to a mental breakdown and eventually to her death. Now, it is Kathleen’s turn to take over where her mother left off. In her search for new working methods, she develops relationships with a young electronic musician, MAX (19), and with an Internet Journalist, THOMAS (21). Through Max’s skills and connections, they begin to unlock the signal. But Kathleen reaches a crisis point in her life when she discovers what the signal is doing to her – and what the message is a warning about.
Kathleen is forced to choose between loyalty to her father and the institute ... or to betray him and everything she has believed to be true. Kathleen's decision will not only determine the Petersen Institute's future, it will impact all of humanity itself.
In Cloud Chamber, the science is real; the story is fiction; and the truth about Space unknown.
Was Kathleen's mother murdered?
Is Kathleen losing her mind?
Is the signal is artificially created or is it just a natural phenomenon?
The basic game mechanism is social: users reward each other for interacting socially about the secrets in the story. The more popular a player's comments and postings are, the more points he/she gains - and the faster the user advances into the experience. If you don’t feel creative, it is possible to just guess how popular or unpopular the postings of others are. In essence, you are doing the same things you already do on Facebook, but here you are doing it in a detective story and scoring points.
The second game mechanism is navigation: just like in World of Warcraft, the user uncovers the story by navigating on a virtual map. In this case, the map is not a fantasy world, but instead the visual interface for a fictional media database; a kind of 3D Wikileaks.
The third gameplay mechanism is "rhythm action". As players progress, the navigation lines connecting media files become infested with noise; this begins on the second level or landscape: from this point, the users have to hit the noise points in time to the music, in order to score points and to optimize the listening experience. If the user fails to hit the noise points, the music will be distorted and become almost unrecognizable. We have drawn inspiration from Japanese rhythm-action games, which is a genre of its own.
- Kathleen Petersen (Sara Hjort):
Kathleen is our protagonist. It's her story and personality that everything in Cloud Chamber is built around. One could say that the database that our users explore is a portrait of a character. Kathleen (23) carries a heavy responsibility. She’s already the head of the school of The Institute and is currently learning how to manage it all. She has not experienced much of a childhood - her mother, Ingrid, died under mysterious circumstances when Kathleen was 1. Kathleen has been in training almost ever since. She was brought up to fear her own emotions, which gets worse as the signal from outer space begins to manifest itself directly in her mind - and becomes the seed of her rebellion against her father.
- Max (Gethin Anthony, known from Game of Thrones):
Max (19) is a DJ, electronic musician and pirate-radio freak.He has a tremendous knowledge and a strong intuition for electronics and basic physics – the result of his passion for electronic music. For years, he spent every hour playing with any electronic gizmo that could make a sound. Over time, he started recording, combining and playing for others. Max's motto is, "The Street finds its own use for things" - and he should know, because after his father's death, he has quarrelled fiercely with his mother, and as a grown up he is on his own. During the day, Max works at the Petersen Institute as a "potato peeler": meaning that he is employed to sort noise from outer space caught by radio telescopes, each day, seven days a week.
- Thomas (Gwilym Lee):
Thomas (21) is an Internet Journalist and it is through him that the story is told – he is our narrator. It is Thomas and his cameraman, Lars, who have recorded all the films in Cloud Chamber. It is also Thomas who has uploaded the 150 media files to the database where our users find them. Thomas is obsessed with uncovering the truth behind things and humans: his motto is "Newspapers are dead," - the Internet is the launching pad for a new golden age for journalism. Thomas' father is a scientist at the Petersen Institute. Thomas would like to save the world one day, but he does not know how yet.
- Gustav Petersen (Jesper Christensen, known from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace):
Gustav Petersen is a gifted scientist and administrator who carries the world's sorrows on his shoulders.His father was a physicist and one of Niels Bohr's personal friends. The family secret is that Gustav's father during the war tried to persuade Bohr to go over to the Nazis.When this became known, the father was ruined. As a result, Gustav has a great need for control, which now crashes viciously with Kathleen's desire for freedom. In the 1970s, Gustav, together with his wife, Ingrid, discovered something unnatural, which was buried in certain Neutrino particles from outer space. Whatever it was, it responded to electronic sounds. This is the signal.Ingrid worked as if she was possessed through many years to understand the signal, and this had enormous consequences for her mental balance. Ingrid Petersen died in 1989.It is unclear whether the cause of death was natural ... Did Ingrid commit suicide? Or is it possible that Gustav killed her?
Cast and Crew
Sara Hjort – Kathleen Petersen
Gethin Anthony (GAME OF THRONES) – Max
Gwilym Lee – Thomas
Jesper Christensen (CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) – Gustav Petersen
Screenplay: Darin Mercado
Game design: Lau Korsgaard
Film Director: Fabian Wullenweber
Creative producer: Mikkel Thomassen
Producers: Vibeke Windeløv & Stinna Lassen
Production: Investigate North
IMDB - CLOUD CHAMBER demo reel
Indiewire (10/4/13) - "'Cloud Chamber' from Denmark Invites Users into 'Science Noir' Transmedia World," Paula Bernstein
Variety (9/27/13) - "New York Film Festival Taps into Transmedia," Gordon Cox
Director, Christian Fonnesbech's, thoughts on the Cloud Chamber Project:
(from Investigate North's press materials)
Cloud Chamber is about traveling into the unknown. The journey, which the users must take, is in many ways my own journey.
I wanted to create a story that was a world that you could step into. The story had to be personal, with deep emotions and large themes – and I wanted the experience to reflect the life I am living. As for so many others, films and books are no longer enough for me: they do not reflect the life I live today: Most of us are always online, connected with each other. We constantly consume stories in small fragments and we can enter into all kinds of relations, anytime and anywhere.
The idea was to create a new kind of medium – one where the user is challenged to interact, without stopping the story. When you explore Cloud Chamber, you can dip quickly into the story and back out again - or you can spend the entire night in there, investigating, immersed in the atmosphere, the story and social togetherness.
We are an online generation. We require a narrative form that thinks and moves like we do.Cloud Chamber is our suggestion for this new narrative form. It has taken me 13 years to figure out how to create a story that works on the terms of the Internet.
The story and the characters stem from my personal background as the child of two atheistic scientists (my parents are biologists) - and the grandson of highly religious grandparents. I grew up in constant tension between science and faith. There was no God in my home; the universe was made from cold molecules. But what is the universe really? And where are we located in all of this? Are we truly alone?
In the three years I have worked full time on Cloud Chamber; space research has played a big role. To my surprise, I discovered that I felt very much at home among astrophysicists.The narrative format is the result of a focused personal drive through more than 35 online storytelling projects – constantly trying to figure out how the Internet tells stories.
This is why the story of Kathleen isn’t a story that just happens in front of you; you have to enter it yourself, together with everyone else who is online.You, yourself, have to explore, investigate and discuss. We wanted to bring together the best features of the Internet today with the ability of films to create characters and emotions – the intensity, immersion and excitement of computer games and the engagement of communities.
It has been a wonderful experience, finally, to work with two hardcore producers. Collaborating with Vibeke Windeløv and Stinna Lassen has made it possible for Mikkel Thomassen and myself to immerse ourselves in the creative and technical work. This has been crucial – because bringing together the development and production processes from film and games has been a daily challenge.
The final experience can be compared to entering a 3D version of Wikileaks: a database where something is wrong. As a user, you are responsible for finding the films, records and documentary clips that the characters have left behind – and for discussing them with the other users: What really happened? What is the signal? Is Kathleen Petersen losing her mind?
Cloud Chamber is in many ways a classical drama - but it is told through the grammar and rhythms of the new media.Like my own story, this is the story of an individual who is struggling to get from world view to another, and perhaps even from one medium to another. For those who are hooked, Cloud Chamber can become a parallel track to their lives – just like good stories always have.
We hope that this world is ready to step into a new world.