Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Wilderness Downtown (Part 2).

In my last post, I raved about The Wilderness Downtown by Arcade Fire. In that post, I basically said all the reasons it was amazing and the meaning behind it. But, what does this mean (or could potentially mean) for the music video industry?

First off, let's look at Chrome Experiments as a whole.

"Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative web experiments, the vast majority of which are built with the latest open technologies, including HTML5, Canvas, SVG and WebGL. All of them were made and submitted by talented artists and programmes from around the world." -  

Google Chrome wants to show off how amazing it is and what fabulous things you can do on it.

Now, let's look at the technologies used.

This video was created using only things that could be used on Chrome. This included:

  • Google Maps & Streetview: these were used to generate the image of your hometown and house you grew up in. The Maps are rendered, zoomed and rotated in a scripted way to suit the song. Maps API is also used to create the route the camera takes to get to your house.
  • HTML5 Audio: this is what plays the music and keeps the timecode, so everything plays in order. This is probably the most important part of the 'film', as without the music, it is nothing. It also keeps the whole thing in time, so you get what you see when you should see it.
  • HTML5 Canvas: this is what they used to create the flocking birds simulation.
  • HTML5 Video: this allows the videos to be played at custom sizes and allows the viewer to watch the videos. This, along with the audio, is one of the most important aspects of this video, as without this, there would be no videos. Without this, the videos would all be too big, and the audience would have to scroll through them, which would make it harder to watch as they wouldn't be able to watch two or more alongside.
  • SVG path reader: this helps to create the handwriting. The SVG path reader, along with individual canvases for each letter, creates a generative typeface which is triggered by keypress.
  • Sequence system: synchronises the videos to play at certain times during the film.
  • Colour correction: this made the videos look prettier, as Google Streetview and Maps are just satellite pictures and not very visually appealing.
Does the interactive interface work?

In my opinion, I don't think the interactive music video will be take off. Whilst it is a good, innovative idea, that will be a novelty for a while, there is not enough substance to it for it to be a successful music video. At first, I was too busy being amazed by the use of technologies that I didn't realise the music video is actually not very good. It's just a boy running around for two minutes. If they could get a balance between showing off new technology and actually having some substance to the video, it could work.

There is also the impracticalities of this only really being accessible through individual websites. From my audience research, a lot of music videos are watched on YouTube and television. Whilst watching these kind of videos on YouTube may not be a massive obstacle, as Google own YouTube and could adapt it if it wanted to; however, these videos will definitely not be accessible on the television. 

TL;DR: these videos are definitely technically brilliant and use a lot of technology I would have no idea how to even look at; however, they are a novelty which I think will wear off quickly (if they even take off).


  1. They also don't cater for the fact that I'd rather not have to be staring at Chrome's hideous UI.

    It's a pointless gimmick, much in the fashion of 3D video...

  2. I think it's good for that particular song because it suits the message; I don't think it will work as a way to produce a new type of music video.