Google Chrome Shows Off What HTML5 Can Do With Arcade Fire Video

Google is a big proponent of HTML5, especially for video and rich graphics in the browser. To show off what HTML5 can do, Google Chrome teamed up with the Arcade Fire and director Chris Milk to create a custom interactive video for their song, “We Used To Wait.” The experience is called The Wilderness Downtown and is best viewed in Chrome or other HTML5-compliant browser.

You start by typing in the address of the house you grew up in, then it loads a video of a guy in a hoodie running through the streets. Different windows pop open on your screen, some with graphics, some with videos. Google Maps and Street View images of your old neighborhood are incorporated into the video. All the video is in HTML5, different windows open up triggered by the music, and you even see a fly-over of your neighborhood based on Google Maps’ routing API.

The graphics are pretty impressive too. Shadows of birds are superimposed over the Google Maps birds-eye view of your neighborhood, and animated trees are plopped into the street using the Street View image and some boundary detection software. You can also write a note to your former self in a beautiful tree-root font or draw a picture, all using HTML5 font and drawing tools. These notes and drawing will be used in future Arcade Fire concerts.

The video is almost as cool as playing Quake in your browser. Except that it is very processor-intensive, and it suggests that you close all other tabs and quit other programs before starting. But that’s why it’s called an experiment.