Dan Hume's Blog

Arcade Fire – The Wilderness Downtown
January 24, 2012, 12:47 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project

I have seen this before but was re-introduced to it again by Bob, who I was talking to today about unique approaches to presenting a video. Rock band Arcade Fire, together with Google and artist Chris Milk, launched an interactive video set to the band’s track “We Used to Wait.” Called “The Wilderness Downtown,” the online project makes use of Google Maps and Google Street View to incorporate images of the viewer’s hometown into the video.

Arcade Fire have never really come across as being massively techie in the past, but with their new website they’re fast becoming the most future proof band around. The site is packed full of HTML 5 tricks and creative touches that fit in perfectly with The Suburbs, their new album.

Using HTML 5, which is the next generation of website language script, the fibre that makes website, and it’s going to make them more interactive than they have ever been. If you’ve seen any of the other big experiments into HTML 5 you will probably be massively impressed with its potential. From the flying balls that Google built into their logo last month or the ingenious Tipex video in You Tube, where the characters in the video interact with the rest of the webpage, HTML 5 has already started to change the face of the web.

Viewers begin the experience by providing their childhood address. The video experience then unfolds in multiple windows, taking viewers on a tour of their hometown to the tune of the Arcade Fire track. Users can also write a note to their younger selves in a tree branch-inspired font that is incorporated into the video.

“The Wilderness Downtown” is optimized for Google Chrome and should also run on any browser that supports HTML5.

“We Used to Wait” comes from Arcade Fire’s latest LP The Suburbsand is the second interactive project to come out of that album: A webcast of the band’s recent concert at Madison Square Garden features fan-submitted photos of the suburbs as part of its stage display.

Here is an example of how it all comes together. Also, if you click on the top image of this post, it’ll take you to their website where you can input your own post code and watch a unique personalised music video.

Another nifty surprise that the user can also interact with video by moving the curser in the direction the flying birds in the background of the page makes them fly away in the opposite direction for a start, but if that isn’t enough to impress you, the digital personalisation of their song, We Used to Wait, is nothing short of immersive. You’ll be a little shocked by the results, but it’ll make you connect to the song and the album in a way that otherwise might not have been possible.

Behind the Work: Arcade Fire The Wilderness Downtown’

Click on the above link for more information on the behind the production of this project.

Just by looking at the screen shots you can tell an incredible amount of effort has gone into this piece of work.

This has definitely inspired my to think more out of the box when thinking about how is my video going to be wathed. I would like to explore the possibilities of having multiple shots on one screen, like how Arcade Fire have executed but with the ability to interact by touching or moving the screen by using a tablet device.


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