Since 2012, POV has brought together visionary filmmakers and inventive technologists to “re-imagine the documentary for web” in a single weekend. The seventh edition of our non-fiction lab, POV Hackathon 7 has concluded. We’re excited to share the prototypes from the five teams that participated, and give you the opportunity not only to explore them, but also to learn more about how the teams created the prototypes under an impossible deadline, including a technology list and source code.

In most cases, the team members did not know each other before their participation. Find out more about the POV Hackathon process and future calls for participants »

Start viewing the prototypes from POV Hackathon 7 »

The Dandelion King

Participants’ Choice Award winner
The Dandelion King App

The Dandelion King prototype in use

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Team: John Benton, Amos Latteier, Colin Rothfels, Heide Solbrig

About the Project: The Dandelion King is a companion mobile application to the graphic novel of the same name by Heide Solbrig. The Dandelion King allows readers to access audio and video related to the book and participate in a series of interactive, multiplayer “encounters” themed around a moment in each of the book’s chapters.


  • The app is written in Objective-C, AFNetworking Library for the client network code and Apple’s XCode Developer tools.
  • Illustrator for mocking up the client app’s UI.
  • Photoshop for preparing image assets.
  • FFmpeg was used to prepare video, and create animated image assets.
  • For the server, the client was written in Python, using The Pyramid Web Framework.
  • Linode for hosting.
  • Github for version control and collaboration.

John Benton
Photo: Alison Prine

John Benton is a writer and new media artist living in New York. He creates interactive books and moving images and teaches at New York University.

» Website
» John on LinkedIn
» John on Twitter

Amos Latteier
Photo: Amos Latteier

Amos Latteier is a Montréal-based interdisciplinary artist and computer programmer who creates playful interactive public art using various forms of technology.

» Website
» The Strange & Wonderful World of Ants

Colin Rothfels
Photo: Colin Rothfels

Colin Rothfels is an artist and developer living in Montreal. He is currently building iOS keyboards at Minuum, and thinking about emoji grammar.

» Colin on GitHub
» @anagramatron
» Colin on Twitter

Heide Solbrig
Photo: Jon Strymish

Heide Solbrig Heide Solbrig is a writer, illustrator and filmmaker. Her transmedia project, The Dandelion King, is a graphic novel/book app/film series documenting Solbrig’s 1970’s childhood. Solbrig’s productions tell stories about how economics, history and politics impact our material and emotional lives. Her films use experimental montage combining historical footage, with personal narration.

» Whatever Floats Your Boat Productions
» The Dandelion King
» More films from Whatever Floats Your Boat Productions

Anatomy of a Trial

A still from the Anatomy of the Trial prototype

View the prototype »

Team: Nora Christiani, Zack Dinerstein, Blake Hunsicker, Peter Kinoy, Meka Montanez

About the Project: An interactive web documentary about the Ríos Montt genocide trial opens the doors of the courtroom to lawyers, human rights activist and students. Anatomy of a Trial allows users to explore each side’s legal strategy and tactics as well as deeply examine the historical, political and cultural context of the internationally unprecedented case.


  • Github for development.
  • Adobe Kuler for colors.
  • Popcorn.js for managing transitions of videos.
  • Font Awesome for free CSS icons.
  • JQuery libraries: Lightbox.js, Bootstrap.js and scrollReveal.js.

Nora Christiani
Photo: Benjamin Gottesman

Nora Christiani is a Brooklyn-based media activist and educator. She was the Associate Producer on Young Lakota, and coordinated the film’s Outreach Campaign. Previously, Nora worked in rural Mexican public schools on a liberatory education project with Redes de Tutoría. Nora is currently the Outreach Director at Skylight Pictures and Engagement.

» Skylight
» Nora on Twitter

Zachary Dinerstein
Photo: Shannon St. Claire

Zachary Dinerstein is a web producer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. His web production work has appeared on GQ, Glamour Magazine, and The Heart. His writing and media-production work has appeared on The Takeaway, The Moth, Fresh Air, Marketplace, and New York Press. He is thrilled to be web producing for POV.

» Zack on GitHub
» Zack on Twitter

Blake Hunsicker
Photo: Lisa Kanaeva

Blake Hunsicker is a journalist and front end developer whose work focuses on how technology/design can improve reporting (and vice versa). He’s originally from California.

» Website
» Blake on Twitter

Peter Kinoy
Photo: Mary E. Lutz

Peter Kinoy heads the post-production work at Skylight. Since founding Skylight Pictures with Pamela Yates in 1981, he produced and edited “When the Mountains Tremble” (winner of the Special Jury Prize at the first Sundance Film Festival) as well as its 2011 sequel, “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator.” Kinoy has a passion for teaching and has mentored emerging filmmakers at City College of New York, Columbia University, Casa Comal in Guatemala and at the International School of Film and Television in Cuba. He was a founder of The Media College of the University of the Poor in the US.

Meka Montanez
Photo: Meka Montanez

Meka Montanez is a UX Consultant with nine years of experience as a business systems analyst, information architect and UX lead servicing all phases of the software development life cycle. She has lead multiple projects with non-profits, the government, retailers such as GapInc., Tiffany, and Bloomingdales, and multilateral organizations guiding clients from start to finish through the implementations of web sites, intranets, customized software, and online communities. She also holds degrees in international relations, finance and economics, and has completed Stanford University courses in human-computer interaction.



Click on the image to interact with the Axion prototype, developed at POV Hackathon.

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Team: Jacob Baskin, Steven Melendez, Jason Wishnow

About the Project: Axion is a meditative exploration of the scientific method and the human instinct to explore our place in the universe. Axion encourages viewers to immerse themselves in a seamless narrative experience while tailoring the video for personal learning styles and science backgrounds.

Technology: The prototype will not work with Firefox due to codec limitations.

  • Built to run entirely on the client-side with JavaScript and HTML5. This allowed the Axion team to develop very quickly and deploy to virtually any server environment.
  • HTML5 Video for all video.
  • JQuery to streamline DOM manipulations.
  • Popcorn.js for the framework to interact seamlessly with HTML5 video.
  • D3.js to build data-driven animations and work with SVG.
  • Font Awesome to display icons.
  • GitHub to store code and collaborate effectively.

Jacob Baskin
Photo: Jackie Hurwitz

Jacob Baskin is a software engineer at Google, where he develops infrastructure for serving ads across millions of web pages around the world. In addition, he is currently co-developing an interactive new media documentary on the Bangladeshi garment industry. He is a graduate of Brown University.

» Jacob on Twitter

Steven Melendez
Photo: Casey de Pont / WNYC

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist and data visualization consultant. His work has been published by WNYC, Newsweek, Al Jazeera America, the Associated Press and other outlets.

» Steven on Twitter

Jason Wishnow
Photo: DLD Conference

Jason Wishnow is the filmmaker behind TEDTalks, the Peabody Award-winning video series watched over one billion times (even in outer space). Wishnow has been called “no stranger to difficult shoots” (Wired UK, 2014), an “online-video virtuoso” (New York Times, 2009), the “enfant terrible of digital film” (The Guardian, 2000).

» Website
» Jason on Twitter

Camp Century

Camp Century

Click on the image to interact with the Camp Century prototype, developed at POV Hackathon.

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Team: Anrick Bregman, Brian Chirls, Luigi De Rosa
Based on work by Nicole Paglia

About the Project: Climate change and new discoveries of oil in the Arctic bring up old strategic conflicts in one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. But as the ice melts, something more sinister is being exposed, and vestiges of a military legacy come, quite literally, to the surface.


  • High-resolution photos were processed in real time to give viewers a sense of presence in the harsh arctic environment.
  • Displacement maps were hand-painted and applied to the original photo to create a sense of depth and camera movement, linked to user’s cursor or the rotation of their tablet.
  • The snow effect applied to some of the photos was generated by rendering thousands of “particles” in every frame. Each particle is a small still image individually modified and animated.
  • Simplex Noise is a faster, simplified version of Perlin Noise an algorithm used to generate natural-looking random noise. This project uses it to generate the clouds and to control the flickering light bulbs.
  • Seriously.js, a video compositor used for the displacement maps, was used for clouds and light flicker effect.
  • Pixi.js and PixiParticles for snow effect.
  • Web Audio API for seamless looping sound effects.
  • jQuery
  • Lo-Dash
  • Monopole via Free Music Archive for music.

Anrick Bregman
Photo: Unit9 Ltd.

Anrick Bregman makes experiences that combine storytelling with innovative technology. He specializes specifically in interactive storytelling, exploring the interplay between narrative and the viewer. Anrick often collaborates with agency creative teams and works with brands directly, building groundbreaking campaigns for a world-wide audience.

» Website
» Anrick on Twitter

Brian Chirls
Photo: Arin Crumley

Brian Chirls is a recognized innovator in the independent film world, dating back to his pioneering work with 2005?s Four-Eyed Monsters, the first feature-length film featured on YouTube, the first to screen in a virtual world and the first to be distributed based on audience demand.

» Brian on GitHub
» Brian on Twitter

Luigi De Rosa
Photo: Luigi De Rosa

Luigi De Rosa is a front-end developer at Roll Studio. He’s passionate about web and technology.

» Luigi on Twitter

Chicago Ghosts

Chicago Ghosts

A still from the Chicago Ghosts prototype

View the prototype »

How to use the demo: Use the up and down arrows to navigate forward and backward. Left and right arrows switch which building is in the present time and place. Click and hold while moving the mouse to turn your body. Click on a highlighted building to see a film. ESC takes you back to the world.

Team: Andrew Ritchie, D Schmüdde, Ziv Schneider

About the Project: Chicago Ghosts explores the stories we share through great expanses of time and small expanses of space that connect us through the past and the present.


  • Three.js was used to bring in 3d models to the web and allow the user to navigate a 3d space in the browser.
  • jQuery was used for DOM manipulation
  • Blender, an open-source 3D software, was used to convert models into javascript.
  • All video is displayed using HTML5’s video tag, but if videos are displayed as embedded into the texture in the future, the video texture option on Three.js will be used.
  • GitHub was used to store all code and collaborate effectively.

Andrew Ritchie
Photo: Andrew Ritchie

Andrew Ritchie is an artist and writer, and he serves as editorial technologist for the digital publication Triple Canopy.

» Website
» Andrew on Twitter

D Schmüdde
Photo: D. Schmüdde

D Schmüdde has worked at the intersection of technology and art for more than a decade. As Executive Producer of the film and digital production company Beyond the Frame, Schmüdde has collaborated with teams who have pushed the boundaries of traditional storytelling and surprised audiences around the world.

» Beyond the Frame
» D Schmüdde on Twitter

Ziv Schneider
Photo: Alina Vernikov

Ziv Schneider is a visual artist and creative technologist from Israel, currently pursuing a masters degree in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch, NYU. Her work is in the intersection of art, design and photography. She is researching new techniques in image making, documentation and interaction.

» Ziv’s Blog
» Ziv’s Portfolio
» Ziv on Instagram


POV Hackathon mentors play a critical role in providing feedback, project management, therapeutic counselling… whatever is needed at any time to help the teams get their prototypes presentation-ready over the course of the weekend. At POV Hackathon 7, five mentors shared their expertise with the teams, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and for sharing their wisdom.

Andres Cortes is a New York City based multidisciplinary artist whose work spans screenwriting, film directing, design and photography.


Sean Flynn is a Research Assistant at MIT Open Documentary Lab. He is a documentary producer, cinematographer, and festival programmer.


Will Kreth is the Director of Metadata Management at Showtime Networks and the director, producer and founder at MediaGroove – a small, indie music label / interactive experience team in Brooklyn.


Theresa Loong is an interactive media artist who creates intergenerational storytelling experiences focused on memory, identity, and immigration using film, games and apps. She received support from the NEA, exhibited at the National Gallery of Art and Círculo de Bellas Artes and works at Local Projects. She graduated from Harvard.



The prototypes were presented to a public audience and judges who represent a cross-section of the documentary and technology industries. POV Hackathon 7’s judges consisted of Aina Abiodun (StoryCode), Liz Cook (Kickstarter) and Bjarke Myrthu (Blind Spot).

POV Hackathon 7

If you missed any of them, here are links for quick access to the POV Hackathon 7 prototypes:

» The Dandelion King (Participants’ Choice Award winner)
» Anatomy of a Trial
» Axion
» Camp Century
» Chicago Ghosts

Want to see more? View the prototypes from POV Hackathon 1 (August 2012), POV Hackathon 2 (January 2013), POV Hackathon 3 (April 2013), and POV Hackathon 4 (July 2013), POV Hackathon 5 (May 2014), POV Hackathon 6 (May 2014).

Keep up with developments at POV Hackathon: Subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.