Popcorn Maker transforms web video

Mozilla has released Popcorn Maker, a tool that enables you to "enhance, remix and share web video". We first reported on Popcorn.js a year ago, but this latest release shifts the project from being available mostly to developers to putting the power in everyone's hands, to paraphrase Brett Gaylor, Mozilla's director of Popcorn (which is probably the best job title ever).

Matt Thompson, chief storyteller and communications director at The Mozilla Foundation, told .net Popcorn Maker's importance is largely in making video "work like the rest of the web". Rather than web video continuing to be locked in a little black box, gradually improving only in terms of picture quality and size, Popcorn "uses the power of HTML5 to open up whole new web-centric possibilities for video, audio and storytelling, making it linkable, searchable, 'commentable', and interactive". In short, Thompson said, Popcorn "allows people to pull the rest of the web right into the action of the story or experience they're trying to create".

The question now is what people will do with this new power. Thompson likened Popcorn Maker to when sound or modern editing and montage were first added to film: "It took us a while to figure out what to do with them." With web video, he surmised, there are a lot of possibilities, such as adding interactivity to TED Talks and educational videos to Popcorn-based Karaoke, but he admitted there's also the risk of information overload: "Viewers can only take in so much information at one time. That was one of the challenges for some of the early Popcorn.js demos." However, Thompson went on to say that creators and filmmakers are increasingly tackling this challenge in interesting ways, not only in video but also for audio projects. Ultimately, he said, Popcorn Maker could "turn what have mostly been primarily passive experiences into more active, creative and participatory ones."

Naturally, Thompson also enthused about Popcorn Maker leveraging open web technologies rather than the likes of Flash: "The emphasis on open tech for video is hugely important, enabling us to search video, find it, connect it to other forms of content, and to make it meaningful in new ways. Popcorn Maker is built entirely using open web elements, written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It's essentially a web page that makes other web pages. We think it's a great example of Mozilla's larger vision for what web apps can be. YouTube overlays are great, but only take you so far. With Popcorn Maker, you're always free to view the source, tweak it, change it, and make it better, in true open source fashion."

Celebrate Popcorn Maker with the Swedish chef:

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