Mozilla Popcorn on BBC World Service

November 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

The BBC’s tech program “Click” interviewed Kat Cizek about her new interactive documentary, One Millionth Tower, and how she used open source technologies like WebGL and Mozilla Popcorn to make it unique. (Listen to the MP3 or OGG version.)

Showcasing open source through high-profile productions

It’s inspiring to see media like the BBC make the connection between new open source technologies and the new forms of storytelling they open up. The interview begins with the example of how high-profile productions like Toy Story and Avatar changed the culture and market of film by showing what new computer-generated imagery could do.

In the same way, productions like One Millionth Tower can showcase the birth of new “web-native” storytelling, built using the open web as its canvas.

This is exactly the theory of change Mozilla Popcorn began with when it started two years ago: showcase the power of open through high-profile productions that make other filmmakers take notice and say: “I want that!”

As guest Bill Thompson put it:

As someone familiar with the patterns of linear storytelling that you see in most documentary films, it’s great to see somebody breaking away from all those conventions and doing something for the first time that a lot of other filmmakers are going to look at and think: ‘we want to start telling stories in this way.’

Just as early web pages broke away from the linear news narrative in news stories, this is breaking away from the linear storytelling narrative in documentary film.

Listen to the full MP3 or OGG interview.

The New York Times, BBC and German public radio on Mozilla Festival

November 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

Some further additions to the first round of media coverage coming out of the 2011 Mozilla Festival:

New York Times “Open” blog: MozFest!

[The Festival] centered on how technologists and newspeople can build bridges between the two professions and better collaborate — in keeping with the meeting’s slogan: “Less yak, more hack.”

The common thread between education and journalism for Mozilla Foundation is personal empowerment…. That empowerment, according to Mitchell Baker, is what starts people down the path to hacking, away from simply absorbing the contents of the Web, and toward mashing it up and taking control of their own experience.

BBC Radio Five: Mozilla Festival Fun

MP3 version (Nov 11)

German Public Radio (Berlin): “Mozilla meets media”

Nov 12 (from minute 30 to 40). MP3 version.

Libération: l’info en ligne de mire

(English version from Google Translate)

Come on, get to work! What are you doing still dawdling in the introduction to this article?

From the first to the sixth floor, the building is full of workshops and construction sites. And if you really can not make up your mind, a geek in a blue t-shirt will quickly materialize before you to suggest some ideas. They are like this, volunteers at Mozilla: always happy to lend a hand. Deeply imbued with this culture of sharing that characterizes the free software world.

“We must succeed in marrying those who make the stories with those who make the tools.” –Katharina Borchert, Spiegel online

“The first generation of Internet users was very focused on hacking,” recalls Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation. “Today, things change: the Internet is increasingly tied to consumer behavior. We see great things that are easy to use, like the iPhone and iPad, that represent the paradigm of ‘elegant consumption.’ But it is rewarding and gratifying to be able to touch these tools, to change and build the Web ourselves.”

Determined not to let the future of the Internet fall into the hands of private companies and opaque entities, the Mozilla community advocates the ownership of network technologies by users themselves. We must raise the hood, examine the engine, get our hands dirty. In short, we must “hack” everything we can get a hold of.

WikiNews: Knight Foundation and Mozilla send geeks into newsrooms

One important announcement made at the event was details of five new fellowship places sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation that attempt to bring together journalists and open source-minded software geeks. Wikinews spoke to Laurian Gridinoc, who … will move for a year to the BBC to work in the newsroom. Other fellows will be working for The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, the Boston Globe and Zeit Online.

Mozilla Festival makes international headlines

November 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

A round-up of press coverage from the Mozilla Festival in London

Wired: One Millionth Tower Takes Documentary to New Heights

From the front page of Wired.com (Nov 5):

The makers of the new film One Millionth Tower reinvented the documentary format…. The resulting film is unlike any before it.

One Millionth Tower, which is premiering on Wired.com the same day it premieres at the Mozilla Festival in London, is not just a static story recorded on film and then edited together for audiences…. Everything is triggered by [Mozilla’s] Popcorn.js, which acts like a conductor signaling which instruments play at what times.

Gizmodo: Here’s How You Make a Documentary Only Using HTML5 and WebGL

One Millionth Tower makes specific use of a Javascript tool called [Mozilla] Popcorn, which was designed to integrate web APIs into online video. What director Katerina Cizek did was utilize Popcorn to control the movement of the video frame, having it effectively behave like a video camera.

Boing Boing: A documentary built with WebGL and other open standards

Damn cool.” –Cory Doctorow

TechCrunch: Mozilla Festival salutes more Popcorn and less developer-ghetto

The 600 participants at last weekend’s Mozilla Festival in London were a crowd of filmmakers, educators, coders, tech-savvy media professionals, media-sceptical hackers, hacking-ignorant journalists, gamers, government advisors …. It was diverse. All of them, however, were thinkers and makers ready to explore the frontiers of the open web.

France

Le Figaro: Firefox ran down the domination of Explorer

Mozilla is known for Firefox, but our project is even more important: we want to build an open, transparent and decentralized Web,” said Mitchell Baker, the iconic chairman of the Mozilla Foundation.

Spain

Itespresso.es: The most valuable asset of Mozilla is its community

It has been over 13 years since the Mozilla project was founded, but the spirit of innovation and openness of the organization remains the same. You only need to approach these days to the Ravensbourne College, London, where until tomorrow, is celebrated the second edition of Mozilla Festival. The Mozilla Foundation has grown exponentially, but unlike other technology projects, it knows that its real strength lies in its community.

Germany

taz.de: Promote the Web of Makers

How should journalism, filmmaking and digital activism be organized going forward? In London, developers and journalists work together on solutions.

UK

Journalism.co.uk: Six lessons for journalists from the Mozilla Festival

Got a press hit we missed? Please let us know in the comment thread of this post.

Keynotes

Press calls Mozilla Popcorn “the future of online video”

October 26, 2011 § 4 Comments

Mozilla Popcorn has been getting some noteworthy applause and media attention lately, with Wired and Fast Company both calling it the future of online video. As we approach the launch of Popcorn 1.0 at the upcoming Mozilla Festival, it’s looking more and more like the kernel of something that can blow up big.

Wired: Popcorn “could be the next big thing in internet video”

Some excerpts:

At Popcorn Hackathon, Coders Team With Filmmakers to Supercharge Web Video

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.

If creating videos with Popcorn (the authoring tool is cheekily called Popcorn Maker) becomes a lingua franca for video encoders everywhere, it could make video-watching and movie fandom a far less passive experience. Just imagine what would happen if a crowdsourced film like Life in a Day got the Nico Nico Douga treatment. And finding creative ways to use new tools is, after all, what the web excels at.

Fast Company:”the future of online video”

Excerpts:

Popcorn.js Lets Web Filmmakers Fuse Video With Interactive Design

The open-source toolkit from Mozilla uses the power of HTML5 to let web filmmakers create innovative interactivity around their videos.

This isn’t merely wallpaper to hang around a Vimeo window: Popcorn uses Javascript to link real-time data visualizations, social media, and supplemental media to the video playback.

And Mozilla is pushing hard to expand Popcorn’s creative possibilities: it recently sponsored a hackathon in San Francisco teaming up marquee-name filmmakers like Steve James (who codirected “Hoop Dreams”) with creative-coding partners, who built 3-D visualizations, personal Flickr feeds, and other interactive layers into the online video experience in a matter of hours using Popcorn’s simple Javascript libraries.

Once you get your appetite whetted, you’ll want to team up with a Javascript ninja of your own and really flex your web-video muscles. Because this is the future of online video: not just passive media silo’d in a low-res box onscreen, but richly integrated visuals that communicate with and affect the design and interactivity of the entire web experience they’re embedded in.

Get a taste of Popcorn in action

It’s great to see these articles showcasing examples of Popcorn in the wild. For example:

  • Steve James, the acclaimed director of Hoop Dreams, brought his new documentary The Interrupters, about former gang members and ex-cons who try to stop violence in their neighborhoods. During the two-day event at Mozilla’s new digs in the Hills Bros. Coffee building, James worked with coder Rick Waldron to augment the film with links to photos, obituaries, news clips and neighborhood maps. (see it here).
  • One Millionth Tower, a National Film Board documentary project, couples 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.
  • 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 recent Mozilla Popcorn hack day). 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).
  • Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, the creators and subjects of 30 Mosques, worked with Mozilla’s Bobby Richter to build a site where people can upload a video of themselves doing something related to specific themes during the holy month of Ramadan or based on challenges that they suggest. Those videos would then populate a timeline for each day of the month (see the 30 Mosques Popcorn prototype).
  • And of course there’s plenty of other demos on the Popcorn web site

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