Arcade Fire Google Maps Video and the Future of HTML5

In 2010 the Arcade Fire Google Maps Video went viral. The official title of the video is “The Wilderness Downtown“. If you haven’t seen it, this is one video you must check-out. Google matched director Chris Milk with the band to develop an interactive video experience to demonstrate the capabilities of HTML 5 in Chrome. And what an experience! The video raised a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes.

The video begins by typing in the address of your childhood home. You are warned to shut-down other programs and close all browser windows. The video is very processor intensive and will stutter if you don’t follow these instructions (maybe if you have an extremely fast machine you can ignore this).

Different windows begin to pop up as you view feet running on wet pavement and then a guy in a hoodie running through various streets. Some of the windows include map and street views of your childhood home which make the Arcade fire music video very personal and special.  Maybe it was just me, but it almost felt a little *too* personal at times. I mean, how did Chris Milk get a picture of *my* house, of the block that I grew up on? Oh yeah, Google…:)

The graphics (particularly the flocks of birds and exploding trees) are gorgeous and at the end you have the chance to write a letter to your childhood self or draw a picture. All of this uses HTML5 and it certainly gives an impressive show of what can be done in video using this technology. The use of HTML5 continues to grow (34 of the world’s top 100 websites use HTML5) but it is far from being used to its full potential. In particular there is room for other video artists to use HTML5 to create amazing online video experiences. If you are interested to view some other HTML5 experiments, check-out these Chrome Experiments. Below is the “making of” the Arcade Fire Video.

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