Attendees at developer conference Google I/O this week were dazzled by an interactive music video built entirely in WebGL.
The project is based around a song from hip US producer Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi's much-anticipated album ROME, a homage to the Spaghetti Western featuring collaborations with Jack White and Norah Jones. The video showcases the power of WebGL and creates a whole new understanding of what’s possible with this technology.
The film enables the user to steer themselves through the narrative, exploring the three different dreams. Real-time shaders can be applied as it plays, and the action is rendered on the fly using hardware acceleration.
"WebGL transforms your browser into an open source video games console. You can use your mouse to change your angle of vision, and move and create objects," said Thomas Gayno of Google Creative Lab.
Also unveiled this week was a web-based version of Angry Birds built in WebGL. There’s also Canvas support if your system won’t run WebGL.
ROME and Angry Birds are undoubtedly great for showing off this technology, but Giles Thomas of learningwebgl.com expressed a little disappointment at the way WebGL creations are sometimes marketed as Chrome projects, when in fact the technology works on other browsers as well.
He told us: "On the one hand, it's fantastic to see WebGL being used by established game companies like Rovio, and ROME is a fascinating experience. Great content like this is what WebGL was created for, and should help the standard no end.
"On the other hand, it's a bit sad that such great content using a cross-browser standard like WebGL, which works on Firefox, Chrome and early-access versions of Opera, is being branded as 'Chrome-only'. I can appreciate that a complex interactive movie like ROME would have been hard to do cross-platform (and Mozilla have also produced Firefox-only demos), but Angry Birds does seem to work on Firefox (though you have to go to chrome.angrybirds.com to play it, the web store won't let you access it). Yet it almost feels like this is being actively hidden. I can certainly understand the motivation behind the way it's being marketed, but it is a bit disappointing.”