Breaking Out of the Black Box: Web-Native Cinema
This weekend at Mozilla's Hot Hacks (part of Hot Docs in Toronto), filmmakers and web developers are coming together to redefine what it means to tell a story with video online.
For some, HTML5 means the end of Adobe Flash; for others it's a focus on mobile platforms. What it also means, however, is that video is no longer only a guest on the web. Until recently, posting a video online meant uploading to YouTube, Vimeo or some other hosting site, and embedding it on the page with related content. One could also embed the video within an Adobe Flash presentation, or even host it themselves. In any case, the video was a separate block from the rest of the webpage; whereas links or buttons or images could trigger other content, video was a standalone beast.
Cue Popcorn.js. The framework, in simple terms, loads interactive content (Google Maps, Wikipedia, data visualizations, etc.) based on the timing of the video. Rebellious Pixels' treatment of "Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck," leverages this framework by curating content from Wikipedia as well as dymaically annotating the source of the presented media. This type of technology is a big step forward in "web-native cinema," because it allows the storyteller to both tailor the experience for the viewer, as well as give the viewer some degree of control over their experience. For example, one Hot Hacks project plans to let viewers connect to their project with Facebook, using data they've curated and the data from Facebook to insert the viewer into the project's narrative.
The term "web-native cinema" is appropriate for these kinds of projects, as opposed to "interactive," because this kind of experience could not exist on any other medium. Like audio and video became the building blocks of film, technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and others have become the building blocks for a new means of storytelling.
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