At a glance

PMQ, a creative venue in Hong Kong, runs an annual design festival called deTour. Design agency, Whatever Inc. sought to create a live stream of festival visitors appearing to fly.

Visitors to a photobooth or the website would upload a picture of themselves before the background would be removed. Then they took to the sky in the installation called FLOCK.

Whatever Inc. chose as its workflow software partner. The agency found integrating the API into its workflow a simple process.

Whatever Inc. has processed 2,359 photos of visitors using resulting in 31,344 views for the FLOCK website so far.

" has made a great breakthrough in removing backgrounds from images as part of the FLOCK installation."


Event Organizing Partner

PMQ is the landmark for creative industries in the heart of Hong Kong’s SoHo. Founded in 2014, it houses over 100 Hong Kong Designers and acts as the premier regional venue for arts and cultural events.

As part of this, PMQ organizes deTour, an annual design festival with a line-up of exhibitions, workshops, debates, and networking events.

The Challenge

PMQ commissioned the design studio, Whatever Inc., to create a large-scale interactive commissioned work called FLOCK for the virtual festival and exhibition.

PMQ wanted visitors both online and local to be able to fly in a “flock” along with other visitors’ avatars. Photos could be uploaded either from a photo scanning booth or through the deTour website. The image would be processed and the background removed. After appearing to flap their arms and taking to the sky, they would appear in the live stream of flying people.

That live stream was to be featured on the deTour site as giant digital screens on the site. Unfortunately, the physical festival had to close due to Covid restrictions on December 2.

While Whatever Inc. had built a custom program to remove backgrounds, it was limited. The agency was looking for an alternative solution for background removal.

The Work

Someone in Whatever Inc. had previously heard of Project managers appreciated the lack of a complicated setup and the easy process.

The design firm used the API to feed the results of the background removal process into its live stream.

The output quality, Web API, and the pricing were keys to going with, although the agency found few competitors could offer the same level of functionality.

The agency wanted to be able to detect multiple people and retain the subject, even if the people in the frame overlapped.

The Result

FLOCK was the main art installation at deTour 2020, made possible by the technology brought to the table, which PMQ calls "a great breakthrough in removing backgrounds from images."

Overall, Whatever Inc. processed 2,359 photos of visitors using 1,461 photos were possessed onsite at PMQ between 27 November and 1 December 2020. There have been 31,344 views for the FLOCK website so far.

PMQ said FLOCK greatly improved the visitors’ experience.

"The installation of FLOCK created by Whatever. Inc. attracts visitors to enjoy the digital art installation," says PMQ, “People can still experience and access it via the website and see themselves participating in the installation in a virtual world and we have received positive feedback from the visitors."

PMQ also said that the customer service was satisfactory.

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Alex Lupascu

Alex Lupascu

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