Popcorning the Octocopter: making web sites that fly

November 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

Meet Nico and his amazing Octocopter, a remote-controlled flying drone with a video camera attached. Nico and his new start-up, Bugeye Films, are using this technology to capture amazing video footage impossible to get any other way.

The camera can hover over your shoulder one minute — then soar fifty feet above you the next. Here it is in action over the jungle, ocean and waterfalls of St. Lucia. There’s other demos here, here and here.

“Working without the confines of gravity let’s us take the lens (and the viewer) where a jib arm or crane simply can’t.” —Bugeye Films

Octocopter + Mozilla Popcorn = win

Nico and his business partner Chris are in London at the Mozilla Festival, exploring the potential of adding Popcorn, Mozilla’s new HTML5 media toolkit, to their flying films.

We think it’s a natural fit. Popcorn is tailor-made for telling dynamic stories about people and places. And flying footage seems well suited for metadata, given its more ambient, “lean back” feel than traditional interviews or video narratives — where pop-ups and metadata can seem distracting or overwhelm the viewer with too much information.

Capturing GPS and other metadata as it flies

The copter is also able to record metadata as it flies, including GPS data, altitude, temperature, air pressure, power usage, etc — all of which could be pulled in with Popcorn.

Bugeye is currently using 5D and Gopro cameras. Attaching 180 or 360-degree camera would open up the possibility of rotating your point of view during playback in the web browser, creating a “turning your head left or right” feeling. Or even the sensation of piloting or flying yourself.

Making web sites that fly

Imagine a web site for the Mozilla Festival that zooms out and hovers outside the building when you click “about.” Then rockets in through an open window and spirals to the fifth floor media booth when you click on “news.” Popcorn plus the octocopter could spawn a whole new digital genre: web sites that fly.

Telling unique stories about places and ecosystems

Nico just returned from Kenya, where he used the octocopter to capture footage of a wilderness resort. He’s also been approached by real estate developers (“show me what the view from the 30th floor window will look like after the building is constructed”),  golf course owners (virtually fly over the 18th hole) and parks.

Imagine virtually flying over your camp site or canoeing expedition route before you leave — with useful metadata woven into the experience. What’s the name of that river? What fish swim in it? When does fishing season start? Is that a good place to camp? The possibilities are endless.

Our challenge: add Popcorn to this London video

With some kind assistance from Film London and the City of London Parks Department, Chris and Nico captured this flying footage in Twickenham yesterday. Their challenge to you: help add some Popcorn magic to it. Weave in metadata about the location and landmarks. Add Twitter, Wikipedia or Google maps data. Or whatever spins your rotor.

Nico and Chris will be in the Popcorn design challenge space at the Mozilla Festival Sunday. Tweet about your demos or ideas through #mozfest. Or get in touch with them directly through Bugeye Films.

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