From the moment you see the Home screen you should be aware that this is more than just another music video. Before you get distracted by the random flocks of computer generated starlings swarming across your screen, you'll see that this is billed as a Chrome Experiment. Chrome Experiments are Google's open source "showcase of creative web experiments" made by designers who are pushing the limits of what modern coding can accomplish. This particular video was written and directed by Chris Milk and built by A Radical Media Production in HTML5. I don't know how they created all the effects but they certainly had my attention.
The video starts off by loading a number of different sized windows that will populate your computer screen. The windows pop in and out with scenes related to the video. This brings us back to the reason why Google is listed as a contributor on the Home screen and why you are asked to enter the address of the home you grew up. As the song progresses you'll notice some windows contain Google Geo views of your address - some are Google's Street View while others are arial photography from a bird's eye point of view.
Those birds and the trees never seem to go away. Towards the end you are encouraged to write the younger you a postcard in the "tree-script" and try your hand at drawing trees yourself. This portion of the video concludes with more birds flying in to perch and take off from your creations.
So, it's a pretty cool video and I liked the song, but I see a lot more in it. First, it involves the viewer from the beginning. You get to see your own personalized version with your address and then you get to add your own artwork to the mix. That's a terrific hook and so I wonder how this format could be used by advertisers? I don't think it would work with M&Ms bouncing across the screen or a Ford Taurus cruising on a scenic highway, but it's a better hook than the "Choose your Ad experience" they've come up with so far. The video is a promotion for Arcade Fire after all, remember? I think something done well like this would be an effective advertisement if it just ended with Drink Coke. I see a lot of potential. Even better for advertisers, it also includes a social element. The user can share their postcard or video with others and spread it further. I don't know why it took 2 years to finally reach me but I'd like to see more productions like this.
Now I'm not advocating for more advertisements online but I can appreciate the fact that content providers need revenue. So whether this format is used for advertising or pushing some other message, I think the mix of modern coding, art, and social media is a winning idea.
If you still haven't tried it out, here's my video creation. You'll find different levels of success with your address depending on whether Google has Street View in the vicinity. One more thing: be sure to watch for the little dot of the jogger running in the Google views. I'd love to know how they got him to follow the roads.