How Mozilla’s New HTML5 Toolkit Fuels the Future of Web Movies

Presenting Web video using HTML5 technology has a few obvious advantages. The one that comes most easily to mind is cross-device compatibility. As long as Apple refuses to support Flash on its smartphones and tablets (read: indefinitely), anybody who sticks with that format for Web video is going to be missing out on a serious number of eyeballs.

Using HTML5 for video also satisfies that little open Web standards advocate in all of us. In addition to all that, it enables a new level of interactivity and allows video content to be integrated with, and enhanced by, outside data sources using APIs.

For evidence of this new phenomenon, look no further than Popcorn, Mozilla’s media framework for HTML5. It just launched version 1.0 a few days ago, which happened to coincide with the debut of a new animated Web documentary that utilizes the framework.

One Millionth Tower is a documentary film about high rise apartment building in Canada and how its inhabitants envision the future of their community. It uses the Popcorn.js toolkit, along with WebGL graphics and other JavaScript frameworks to create a dynamic, interactive video that pulls in data from various Web APIs and controls camera movement in the video.

As an example of what this technology can do, scenes in One Millionth Tower can reflect the current weather in Toronto, where the film is based, thanks to Popcorn’s ability to integrate with live data from Yahoo’s Weather API.

It can also be used to grab data from the likes of Flickr, Wikipedia, Google Maps and other popular Web services, allowing the video to be augmented with relevant Web content at timely intervals throughout the video.

The possibilities are only as limited as the Web itself. The Popcorn website has a collection of live demos that show how the framework has been used to enhance Web video and audio content.

We got one of our our first glances at the possibilities HTML5 brings to interactive Web video last summer when Google launched a browser-based music video for the band Arcade Fire. That “Chrome Experiment” as they called it utilized the 3D graphics rendering capability of HTML5, along with the ability to commandeer multiple browser widows at a time.

One Millionth Tower can be watched in most modern browsers, but the interactive portion of the project requires Firefox or Chrome.

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