Monthly Archives: October 2011

Press calls Mozilla Popcorn “the future of online video”

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”


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

Help spread the word: Who’s your Mozilla Festival dream team?

The 2011 Mozilla Festival is now less than a month away! We’re looking for your help in spreading the word, to ensure the diverse range of skills we need are in the mix. Who’s your design challenge dream team? How do we make sure they’re there in London to brainstorm and hack with us?

This post provides some updated copy and links to answer Festival questions, list specific skill-sets we’re still looking for, and make it easier to spread the word. See you in London!

What is the Mozilla Festival?

The Mozilla Festival is a yearly “three-ring circus of innovation,” bringing together hundreds of passionate people to explore the frontiers of the open web. We mash developers, designers, and big thinkers together to make things that can change the world.

This year’s theme is Media, Freedom and the Web. How can the web can make us more creative, collaborative and connected in an age of broadcasters big and small? The Festival will gather leaders in news, media and the arts with technologists and open web developers for brainstorming, design challenges and sprints that will shape the future of media and the web.

500+ hackers, designers and media-makers

Moz Fest is not your usual tech conference. It’s a giant maker sprint, crammed with 500+ hackers, designers, journalists, musicians, DJs, and gamers. All actively *building* the future of media and the web together, through hands-on design challenges, brainstorms and hack sprints.

The Mozilla Festival is a place where big ideas are born, and where inspiring projects get their start. Last year’s Festival was focused on education and learning, and resulted in inspiring new community members, partnerships, and Mozilla projects like Hackasaurus and Open Badges.

Who’s coming?

  • Leaders in media. Like the BBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera,  Boston Globe, ZEIT Online and Knight Foundation.
  • + Leaders in the open web and tech. Like Mozilla Labs, SoundCloud, Ushahidi, Creative Commons, and Participatory Culture Foundation.
  • + Visionaries working at the intersection of both. Like you.

MozFest design challenges: What are we building?

The Mozilla Festival revolves around a series of design challenges that will bring together teams with diverse backgrounds and skill-sets. Participants will get access to state-of-the art tools, the Mozilla community, and each other — all using the open web to make and do things that advance the state of media.

We’re looking for inspired developers, design thinkers and interactive news experts to take part in design challenges like these:

How do I register?

How can I help spread the word?

  • Tweet about it. (Here’s a sample.)
  • Post or email about it. The Festival site is here. Email outreach copy is here.

We’re specifically looking for help with:

  • Reaching out to the London design challenge and design community
  • Spreading the word through the Mozilla Developer Network
  • Having Festival design challenge facilitators reach out to their networks
  • Reaching out to Hacks/Hackers chapters
  • Letting tech journalists know about the Festival

Please post suggestions and help as comments here — or get in touch with matt [at] mozillafoundation [dot] org. Thanks — and see you in London!

CBS Moneywatch on Mozilla’s Open Badges project

CBS Moneywatch just called digital badges for learning and Mozilla’s Open Badges project “a thrilling and much-needed development that could shake up the monopolistic higher-ed world.”

The traditional college degree may not be as necessary in the future if the concept of so-called digital badges takes off. People who earn digital badges signify to employers what their skills and knowledge are regardless of whether or not they possess a degree.

The digital badge endorsers, including Mozilla, which is involved in the effort, envision that badges could be awarded by online and open-courseware providers, companies, community organizations, professional groups and even colleges.