Over the past few months, we have followed a couple of exciting new video applications for Popcorn.js, an HTML 5 framework for video. It was introduced essentially through Wired in October, where documentary filmmakers were able to add interactive links in their films to provide more information while viewers watched. One movie in particular, One Millionth Tower, premiered on Wired.com in November and is filled with interactive content allowing you to explore the film with different angles, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google Maps, and more. But other educational uses have been discovered, much to the delight of Popcorn's creators.
We also saw Popcorn being implemented into the People's Choice Awards website, where their videos were given interactivity on special hotspots. When someone of note is mentioned, a window pops up with articles and other links to that person.
Popcorn Will Add Interactive Dimensions To Educational Video
Of particular note is the work done by Kate Hudson (no, not that Kate Hudson) in a Popcorn-laden demo for Shakespeare's that takes a scene from Macbeth where you to see a scene acted out with the dialogue written underneath. The Popcorn framework allows you to investigate the meaning of certain phrases so that the words become clearer. For instance, if you want to know what "Hie thee hither," means, it's highlighted in the text, and moving your cursor over it translates the phrase into "Come home quickly."
The video stops while you make your investigations, and then when you're ready to watch it again, you just put your cursor over the video and it picks up right where it left off. The video has tons of options, too. You can use the original text, or a modern reworking, or see both at the same time. The possibilities for education brought up by this demo are amazing. Don't think just Shakespeare, but math, science, and of course, history and foreign languages, would all be enhanced through interactive video. Someone with an enterprising mind might want to check out this technology, there's money to be had here.
Another use surprised even the people who created Popcorn. In the accompanying video for Firefox 9's Add-Ons, they were surprised that the framework was being used to show synchronized interactive content. When the video talks about a particular add-on, the add-on shows up in a column next to the video, which can then be clicked for information and download. When discussing wallpaper content, Personas, through my Firefox browser, the top and bottom of the page changed to that wallpaper to give a mini-preview of what it would look like.
Popcorn Has A Bright Future
We're already seeing some pretty cool demonstrations of this application. It looks like it opens the door for a great amount of creativity in all video content. Right now, education and information appears to be its niche. I can totally see interactive movies and shows using this one day, though, providing extra content to enhance the experience. I'm looking forward to seeing how Popcorn will be used next.