Search This Blog

Friday, October 21, 2011

At Popcorn.js Hackathon, Coders Team With Filmmakers to Supercharge Web Video | Excerpt via

Popcorn.js, which few outside the web-development world have ever heard of, could be the next big thing in internet video. It’s a simple — for coders, at least — framework that allows filmmakers to supplement their movies with news feeds, Twitter posts, informational windows or even other videos, which show up picture-in-picture style. For example, if a subject in a film mentions a place, a link can pop up within the video or alongside it, directing the viewer to a Google Map of the location.

Popcorn-powered videos work in any HTML5-compatible browser and are easy to navigate for anyone who has ever used the internet. The tools the Popcorn coders are creating could lead to far more interactive online experiences, not just for movies and documentaries but for all videos. Want to make a cat video replete with recent updates from Fluffy’s Facebook page and all the latest tweets tagged #cats? There could soon be an app for that.

“Popcorn is the most developer-friendliest library for making it super-simple to make a read-only experience, which is what HTML5 video really is,” said Waldron, one of Popcorn.js’s lead developers, while ferociously typing out The Interrupters code. “The library is very small and very capable of making it super-easy to add an interactive level [to video]. If JavaScript is to the web what ActionScript is to Flash, I want Popcorn.js to be the new Flash ActionScript. There, I said it.”

It’s an ambitious goal, not unlike asking filmmakers to hunker down with coders they’ve never met to crank out new web concepts for film in 15 hours, which all six teams did. So there must be something to be said for the simplicity aspect of Popcorn that Waldron mentioned.

It’s easy to envision Popcorn helping filmmakers with their productions as well as creating communities for films after their release. At least one documentary project, One Millionth Tower, has already made use of the tools, coupling Popcorn with 3-D graphics generator WebGL to create a web-ready documentary that shows what would happen if the residents of a Toronto highrise were allowed to participate in re-creating their home tower.

Another film at the hack day, 18 Days in Egypt, created a site that pulled in Flickr photos, newsfeeds and other data from around the web (see the 18 Days prototype from the hack day). The revolution in Egypt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February has died down, but if the filmmakers tool had been live as events were unfolding, it could have functioned as a massive media-collection tool (and can now be used to follow the events in Egypt as they continue to unfold).

Popcorn’s toolkit could also be used to build related mini-documentaries after filming has wrapped on a feature — or even long after the original film has left theaters. Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, the creators and subjects of 30 Mosques, wanted their web experience to help people re-create and share in the trips they took to break the fast in a different mosque for each of the 30 days of Ramadan. Their first journey in 2009 was just around New York and captured on Tumblr; the second was a cross-country trip that they blogged; and the third journey was a transcontinental trek captured by their filmmaker friend Musa Syeed.

Posted via email from Siobhan O'Flynn's 1001 Tales

No comments: