Video: An Aesthetic For Web Made Movies

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This video post outlines some of the thinking that Bobby Richter, Ben Moskowitz, folks in the community mailing list and myself have been having about how we can break out of the boxy look and feel of our first popcorn demos. I’ve actually used this video as cannon fodder as I test the user experience of Butter, filing bugs on our issue tracker while Bobby and Scott Downe have been working on “Edge”, our development version of the app. So this is actually my first videoblog that uses popcorn and Butter, and all of my future ones will from here on out.

Mostly though I wanted to create this video to start a conversation about how to encourage formal innovation in web based filmmaking – what are the opportunities that hyperlinking, browser-based compositing and non-linear storytelling present to us? Please leave your thoughts in the comments here or join us on our list for more discussion.

11 responses

  1. Phillip Smith wrote on :

    Nicely done. I’m happy to see the ‘hyper’ aspects back _in_ the video frame again, like some of the early demos.

    Keep these coming.


  2. Gabriel Shalom wrote on :

    Hey Brett, nice videoblog! Thanks for the citations of the Hypercubist Manifesto and the Future of Art. I’m glad you’ve found my object-oriented theories inspiring. And the remix of the manifesto with the sound effects is brilliant!

  3. Michael McCarthy wrote on :

    Ever since I bumped into your work, I’ve been imagining something like what you just outlined. Now I’m sure more than ever that you’re onto something absolutely amazing. I’m going to post up a cheap chroma-key test I did yesterday, based off of your ideas. I’ll send the link later.

    Also, you know the time-lapse/stop-motion technique I am using has promise… it just still comes off a little flat (haven’t had the time to develop outwards YET). I have wanted to connect with a more talented comic-book illustrator, to do a full voice-acted production where a comic/manga is drawn “live” in front of you (minus most text, but keeping the other elements), following along w/ the story. If that was layered, augmented, and interactive, it would blow the doors off!

    When you mention Little Brother I can’t help but think it’s possible, especially if it was danced over other video, web content, and stretched into the 3rd dimension, and breaking the linear/time problem. I actually think its quite do-able… of course it could use everything… popcorn, webgl, the animation, chroma-keying, augmented reality, gml and more…

    Its not the easy way, but it would definitely open the world up.

  4. David Dufresne wrote on :

    Hey Brett and all PopCorn users and developersn

    Nice to see our Prison Valley timeline in this video. You could be sure I’ll continue to read your blog and follow your amazing work.

    PopCorn.js rules!

    Thank you all.
    David «Prison Valley» Dufresne

  5. Jeremias wrote on :

    Thank you for the video. I’ve been following popcorn for some time now. I would have attended buttercamp, but from Paris it’s still quite a trip. Some thoughts:

    I completely agree that showing notes and outgoing links outside a “classic” videoclip risks overloading the viewer’s attention.

    Just wanted to mention: I had to rewind your video a few times to open all the links because I wasn’t fast enough. Shows also that time-based/time-limited navigation may not enhance the viewer experience. Just a thought.

    For a fictional storytelling approach (which I’m interested in), my main concern is not the building and navigation, though. I feel that the main point is that we need shorter, more condensed content bits. Even in the web documentaries you linked to the videos are quite long, so when I watched them I leaned back and then I was slightly annoyed and confused when I had to click again. I think the “sweet spot” you talked about would involve some rule like this: “At least one user action every 30 seconds”.
    From a user point of view I see also the fear of missing content, especially if there is a lot of stuff to link to. Maybe I’m still stuck in a very linear way of thinking (I’m not a gamer), but I think users get confused if there are too many choices and you can go back and forth in a story.

    And, a new word: Vusers. Noticed how I used the words “user” and “viewer” in the text above without any distinction? Maybe what we are talking about are neither “users” nor “viewers” but “vusers”.

    That was some late night brain-storming from me, I’m looking forward to all the trial and error that’s still ahead of us.

    By the way, any info online about your “little brother” project?

  6. Michael McCarthy wrote on :

    I’m digging vusers. Someone’s going to want to jump on that, no?

  7. brett wrote on :

    Yes, I like Vusers as well 🙂

    Jeremias, I’m working on Little Brother over the next several days and will have something to share soon. We’re still in the incubating stage, but I’m trying to get beyond this towards storyboards in the next week or so, which I’ll share here.

    Michael, I can’t wait to see the Chroma Key stuff take shape! So much potential there. Michael has been experimenting with “drawing” using chroma key markers, which has the effect of creating various levels of depth that are uncovered by the illustrator. Awesome stuff.

  8. Pingback from Interactive beings, interactive documentaries | on :

    […] evolves, I am sure this cinematic code is also bound to evolve. Following discussions around An Aesthetic for Web Made Movies blog post, I came across a short conversation to define the viewer/user of interactive cinema. The […]

  9. Pingback from Interactive beings, interactive documentaries | rizomer on :

    […] evolves, I am sure this cinematic code is also bound to evolve. Following discussions around An Aesthetic for Web Made Movies blog post, I came across a short conversation to define the viewer/user of interactive cinema. The […]

  10. Nick DeMartino ( wrote on :

    Just stumbled upon Popcorn, and boy I’m glad I did. You reference a lot of projects I know about (and have blogged about), and quite a few that are new. I’ll follow up on those. I love that you’re taking on Little Brother, a perfect story for expansion. I also love that you’re not using the over-used “transmedia” nomenclature, although many of the practitioners in that realm could benefit from your insights, examples and tools (Collapsus is often called transmedia btw).

    I ran a content incubator at the American Film Institute for many years, and I think we began using “viewser” in demo’s as early as 2000-2001. Sounded hokey then, but it grows on one.

  11. Sasha wrote on :

    Yo! I’m a filmmaker whose enthusiastic about building web movies using PopCorn Maker, but I’m having trouble downloading it..? What am I not doing correctly? It gets stuck on the “loading” page -nothing happens. I’m not a developer. Not familiar with coding… looking for the user friendly app for PopcornJS. Thanks!