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The Wilderness Downtown
August 30, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

The Wilderness Downtown is an interactive film featuring a new Arcade Fire song. (HTML5 & Processor intensive)
posted by gwint (76 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
yep
posted by Babblesort at 8:19 AM on August 30, 2010


That's not the same thing, is it?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:07 AM on August 30, 2010


Do we really need TWO posts of the same crap from this crappy band?
posted by ReeMonster at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the point of this post is less 'Hey let's all listen to the same five minutes of music that Arcade Fire keeps calling new songs!' and more 'Hey look at this neat interactive thing on the web!' which is A-OK in my book.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Enter the address of the home where I grew up? Why? (serious question)
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:24 AM on August 30, 2010


This site was designed with Google Chrome in mind and is unable to render properly in your browser. For the best viewing experience, we recommend downloading Google Chrome and trying this site again.

Isn't Safari the same thing as Chrome (webkit)?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:35 AM on August 30, 2010


It scrapes google maps and integrates views from that town into the video. It's pretty cool.
posted by crickets at 9:35 AM on August 30, 2010


mrgrimm: the rendering engine (webkit) is that same, but the browsers have other, differing capabilities as well.
posted by crickets at 9:36 AM on August 30, 2010


Oh hell no.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:38 AM on August 30, 2010


It's a music video made with scenes from google map. /spoliers.
posted by phyrewerx at 9:39 AM on August 30, 2010


mrgrimm: the rendering engine (webkit) is that same, but the browsers have other, differing capabilities as well.

Yeah, once the 7 windows popped up, I figured out the drill. Alt-F4.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:39 AM on August 30, 2010


Fairly interesting idea but the bright Google streetview images don't really work very well with the dimly lit dusky/dawn background of the guy running in the video. And there wasn't enough data to work with on my address either. Probably works better with a city location rather than a small village on a small island in the North Sea...
posted by Transparent Yak at 9:48 AM on August 30, 2010


This is pretty amazing, I found the experience very moving.
posted by closetgeekshow at 9:50 AM on August 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is pretty banal. I found the experience very buggy.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:52 AM on August 30, 2010


This would have been more moving if Google already knew my hometown and just shoved it into the video without me expecting it. It would be a plus side to the google-dystopian future.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 10:03 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was in college once and found the use of the word banal to be very effective. Pshaw.
posted by pianomover at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not perfect, but it's a totally worthwhile attempt.
posted by dry white toast at 10:07 AM on August 30, 2010


I remember doing stuff like this (multiple popup windows and stuff) back in the 90s.
Also, open your browser window to the size of this arrow:
<------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
was very popular.
posted by monospace at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2010


I'm glad someone is having fun making cool shit.
posted by swift at 10:15 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Banal is effective when used to describe quite a lot of indie rock.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2010


Pshaw y'all.
posted by pianomover at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


ReeMonster, your distaste for Arcade Fire is noted. No one will listen to them anymore. Thanks for your efforts.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on August 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Yeah, based on ReeMonster's scathing critique, I will now ignore this universally acclaimed best-selling band.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:30 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Haha.. I'm glad my position is known. And I'm not alone. So you can all suck my bone, as I finish eating this scone.. whine whine.. (cue melodicas, harmoniums, zithers, hammer dulcimers, and any other "quirky" instruments you can think of.. kazoos?)
posted by ReeMonster at 10:33 AM on August 30, 2010


yeah, let's have more videos like Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again". This whole art thing sucks.

seriously, I thought it was pretty cool. the procedural bird animations were well-done - they all flew onto the lines I drew on the postcard and landed there.
posted by GuyZero at 10:33 AM on August 30, 2010


I think you've got them confused with Sufjan Stevens? Unless "violins" are "quirky" in your world.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:34 AM on August 30, 2010


And I'm not alone.

I don't care for Arcade Fire either. But I don't think it's necessary to comment to this effect three different times in an hour.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


um, I realize there's a lot to look past here - but the fact this is 100% browser based is significant. Treat this like a technology preview and I'm definitely impressed.

fwiw the birds and fractal postcard font feel like a rendering of the processing.js port
posted by victors at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2010


Metafilter: Your favorite band's interactive HTML5-based music video sucks.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:40 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


ReeMonster, you showed up the last time I posted about a band, too, and you were doling out the same shitty complaints. Don't you have, like, a job? Or do you just spend your time telling other people you don't like the things that they like?
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm actually a musician with a number of friends playing the string parts on that album. Don't worry, I give them shit about it too. All in good fun. And a gig's a gig, for them.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2010


Technically amazing, pretty cool aesthetically (although I'm not quite sure about the broccoli invasion at the end.)
posted by maudlin at 10:49 AM on August 30, 2010


Sounds like a gig someone didn't get.
posted by pianomover at 10:52 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought it was cool.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on August 30, 2010


HAH!! I wouldn't say yes.. even if I WAS a string player, which I ain't. More into contemporary chamber stuff or orchestral stuff or jazz, far as what I play.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:53 AM on August 30, 2010


Then tell your friend Owen I can't wait to see him open for Dirty Projectors?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


ReeMonster hates on the band and gets to trot out his sweet musical connections. Score!

Ree, oh, Ree, could you tell us your opinion on "Alternative Music" next? Better yet, sign me up for you zine (which is probably about how much zines suck).
posted by defenestration at 10:56 AM on August 30, 2010


> All in good fun.

It's a lot more fun shitting on someone else's post than having someone shit on yours. You might want to work on controlling your urge to spew whatever crap occurs to you in a spirit of "fun."
posted by languagehat at 10:57 AM on August 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm actually a musician with a number of friends playing the string parts on that album. Don't worry, I give them shit about it too. All in good fun. And a gig's a gig, for them.

Yeah-huh. I'm sure you are. And I'm sure they also got pissed off at the fact that you spent your time acting like they ought to be given shit for playing string parts for one of the largest rock bands of the decade, like it's somehow a failing of theirs to be playing alongside the fucking Arcade Fire.

I mean, I still haven't clicked with The Suburbs. It's currently my least favorite of their CDs. But ANY band can be forgiven for just about ANYTHING if they've had a release of the caliber that Funeral was. We're talking best of the 00s. We're talking an album so good that every other aspiring rock band took notice, because Funeral rocked fucking HARD.

And Neon Bible? Yeah, it was pretentious in a way I didn't like. But for every "Mirror mirror on the wall tell me where them bombs will fall", they delivered at least two other utterly rocking moments that blew my socks off. No Cars Go was a brilliant anthem. The entire middle of the album is just hit after bombastic hit.

So, uh, I don't know who you are. You're newer to MetaFilter than I am, and you're quieter, because seemingly you only ever post to be an asshole. Your most-favorited comments insult, in order, soccer, another MeFite, Improv Everywhere (fucking seriously?), Megan Fox, indie music... It's like you're incapable of admitting that you like anything. Which makes you a hipster at best and a troll at worst. And in either case, YOU haven't made anything like Funeral, YOU are not part of a band that's managed to be a "big deal" in an age when bands usually aren't "big deals" even when they're big, and, probably, YOU are not a programmer at Google capable of making cool experiments that ten years from now we'll look back on as early, cheesy attempts to do the really cool things that people have figured out how to do in 2020.

But you know. All in good fun, amirite?
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:58 AM on August 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Also, I just tried this out and it's really fucking cool. Saw it on Waxy earlier, but this got me to actually check it out. Thanks!
posted by defenestration at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2010


1. I can't view the link on my stone tablet - I tried, but my chisel chipped, and I had to re-start my hammer. Sigh. My money-pit, my problem. I guess I'm glad they're pushing technology, for whatever it's worth.

2. I'd actually never heard Arcade Fire, to my knowledge, so I decided to have a listen. Looked up about 5 videos on Youtube. They do like their 8th notes, no? Compositionally, they're re-treading ground The Cure covered a long time ago. Lyrically, they seem to be a less-literary Coldplay. The banging-on-stuff looks fun, if you're there, I suppose. Liquid Mice did that, though.

My lawn, it shrinks, yet again.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2010


Did this guy really get Rory fuckin' Marinich, of all people, to drop the H-Bomb?

What is going here?
posted by defenestration at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2010


Your most-favorited comments insult, in order, soccer, another MeFite, Improv Everywhere (fucking seriously?), Megan Fox, indie music

Let's not do this. Also, let's talk about the link, not one guy.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not a film, it is a commercial for software.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exactly. Now you're getting it! Good pop. And yes, I wouldn't just make shit up for kicks. I'd be willing to bet that my friends who played on the album were not paid sufficiently for their services, and no professional musician who has spent their entire life honing their craft should play for less than they deserve just because a band is famous. I mean, if they truly believe in the band and they like the music, fine. But no self-respecting musician would say yes to a gig JUST because "they're famous." At least, I would hope not. I'll try to be a better MeFite and do a post about music I love, and you'll all be welcome to take the piss out if you so desire.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:06 AM on August 30, 2010


Play jazz drive a cab.
posted by pianomover at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed seeing this play out on a gravel road surrounded by harvested fields - though google/the site somehow missed my house by a mile...
posted by anotherbrick at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2010


ReeMonster, you're being obnoxious in more than one thread now. Please cut it out. Take a walk or something.
posted by cortex at 11:21 AM on August 30, 2010


This is not a film, it is a commercial for software.

I was curious about that too. Who paid for this? Google? Here's the trailer.

Also, what is the H-Bomb?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:46 AM on August 30, 2010


"hipster"
posted by defenestration at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I put in the address of my childhood home in Sunnyvale, and listening to this music and watching the assorted graphics unspool over my childhood home was really kind of neat. It's a bit disheartening that only a corporation the size of google can roll something like this, and that this much html5 is so processor intensive. I look forward to the day when some guy working in his garage can make something like this without a Ph.D. in programming.

In short, it was nice and I was impressed. And that is in spite of the fact that Wayne of the Flaming Lips says that Arcade Fire is obnoxious, and in response an AF fanboy said that Wayne is an oppressive, senile old man who controls the local music scene like some sort of Indie King Lear. (which I don't believe but is too funny to not pass along)
posted by mecran01 at 12:38 PM on August 30, 2010


Wow, totally fails on Chrome Linux. I get a bunch of blank windows popping up on the left side of my screen. As in, no body text at all, just a header with a link to a CSS and JS file. 5 windows like that. Not sure whats supposed to be going on here.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:00 PM on August 30, 2010


I had the same problem as wildcrdj on Windows 7 Chrome.
posted by anifinder at 2:04 PM on August 30, 2010


Everything I've heard from Arcade Fire I've filed under awful, and I'd love it if you (ReeMonster) would give up this argument, because you're making people who think Arcade Fire are awful look bad. "I'd be willing to bet that my friends who played on the album were not paid sufficiently for their services" - Seriously? "willing to bet"? This probably translates as you're making stuff up, as far as I can see. Or if not, breaching your friends' confidence. Session players generally don't rank "my assumed-private grumbling about famous client's financial/creative/ego failings splashed on the internet to score forum points" at the top of their list of employability enhancement methods.

I wanted to try the interactive doodah, but it didn't work. In chrome, launched lots of tiny windows, then nothing - no audio, no video, animation, or even error message. Weird.
posted by Slyfen at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2010


What seemed to fix it for me was allowing it to set third-party cookies. It was neat.
posted by anifinder at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2010


"This site was designed with Google Chrome in mind and is unable to render properly in your browser.

For the best viewing experience, we recommend downloading Google Chrome and trying this site again."


Fuck off.
posted by ericb at 2:55 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, I still haven't clicked with The Suburbs. It's currently my least favorite of their CDs.

It really clicked for me, and I didn't like Neon Bible.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:58 PM on August 30, 2010


The neighborhood integration is fantastic, but the multi-window, browser specific implementation is everything that was wrong about the internet 12 years ago. It's a great demo but I'd hate to have my name associated with it.
posted by furtive at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2010


Also, this.
posted by furtive at 3:34 PM on August 30, 2010


Needs moar Satriani.
posted by LordSludge at 3:36 PM on August 30, 2010


Wow, totally fails on Chrome Linux

Worked OK for me on Chrome/Ubuntu/pretty crappy hardware...
posted by sriracha at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2010


FWIW, works fine for me on Safari 5/Mac.
posted by gwint at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2010


I thought that it was pretty darn cool. My childhood home has never been street-viewed so I used the house that I owned in the nineties as the address and the graphics worked pretty well with the maps images. Mefites will really hate on anything.
posted by octothorpe at 4:46 PM on August 30, 2010


*shrugs* I like Arcade Fire.

The negative comments here mostly seem to come from the headspace of: "indie bands can't be successful". You know - the bands that it's fashionable to hate. I'm guilty of the same impulse for some bands. "YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO LIKE!!!"

S'alright. Pop will eat itself. It just keeps happening.
posted by jackrational at 5:40 PM on August 30, 2010


The negative comments here were mostly coming from one guy who wouldn't stop crapping in the thread. One compulsive loudmouth does not a collective failing make.

There were a couple others from folks offering critical comments without particularly railing about popularity, and a couple people complaining about the clunkiness of the browser hackery involved.
posted by cortex at 5:49 PM on August 30, 2010


Your next music video should start with the question: What is your mother's maiden name?

I'd file Arcade Fire under "overrated but far from loathesome" but this is a pretty damn cool idea and pretty well executed. Made me enjoy the song a little more, or at least give it a second listen.
It feels to me like a stepping along the path to something new in music videos/song promotion. It's not quite there, and you can't predict the final form by the product in front of you, but there is definite sign of evolution.
posted by BillBishop at 6:07 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big Arcade Fire fan but I liked this. I think half of it was missing, though, there were just a ton of empty browser windows on top of some google map views of a friend's house in Baltimore (I tried it twice; it seemed to work better with a real city address than my current one.) Did everybody else have stuff going on in all those windows? Still, the geometry of all the window frames was kind of cool and I really liked the drawing part. I want that for photoshop, all those lovely branches.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2010


I was going to post this, I just saw it and was BLOWN AWAY!
posted by TheBones at 9:36 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed. No opinions about Arcade Fire. I get that it's browser-specific and that pisses people off, but I figure we're still a long ways from universal browser coolocity and people are still programming to take advantage of the quirks of their preferred browser. Hopefully in 2/5/10 years, something like this not working on Firefox/Safari/whatever the hot browser is then will be just as shocking as your average webpage not rendering correctly today. For now, I accept the quirks.

Bit of a nostalgic trip, too, I might add.
posted by good day merlock at 10:45 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know the band's music from other than seeing the name a lot, but this was a very cool tech demo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:55 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh. The complex near me has a pool.

I'm a little disturbed at how easy it apparently is to bypass Chrome's popup blocker.

Also, I think it was designed for a higher resolution screen than what I have.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:06 AM on August 31, 2010


This made me weep, literally. There are tears on my cheeks. I'm not sure when anything on the internet has made me weep before, if ever.

I am not an Arcade Fire fan, but I am a fan of where I grew up. I miss it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:19 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that it's browser-specific in the sense that Chrome has some proprietary crap that other browsers don't have. Chrome's got excellent HTML5 support and a crazy fast JavaScript interpreter, so it makes sense to use it here.

(Safari has better CSS3 transformations though.)
posted by nev at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2010


I finally gave it a chance at the end of the day yesterday.

The real "problem" with the app (aside from using 1,000,000K of memory in Safari, and about half that in Chrome) is Google's bad satellite data.

It kept putting me down the street from my old house. When I zoomed into the house using maps.google.com satellite view (NOT street view), I could see that my house had a wrong street number and wrong city name. And when I looked at my old address using satellite view, sure enough, there's a marker way down the street.

So go to maps.google.com first, map your old address, zoom in with satellite view, and then shift it to your actual house. Then use the "Address is approximate" address that shows up when you hover over the image. Like I said, it lists mine as a different number and different city (same street).

Another one of the reasons this video "fails" is that it doesn't incorporate the main theme of the album, i.e. "even if you go back to the suburbs, it will not be the same place you remember growing up in." (Well, and the fact that most people probably didn't grow up in the suburbs.)

I don't think the Google satellite data does that. Maybe just not for me. (Maybe it's because none of my childhood homes are on Street View (small blocks and alleys.))
posted by mrgrimm at 11:32 AM on August 31, 2010


Loved it! Thanks. Most impressive.
posted by fish tick at 5:05 PM on August 31, 2010


@mrgrimm: the majority of people watching this video will be more then a couple of years out of their childhood home. I'm only a few years out and street view showed me cars I didn't recognize, homes that have been repainted or remodeled, and a completely new development on the side of my neighborhood that wasn't there when I left. The differences are subtle, but for almost everyone they'll be there- different people living different lives then you remember.
As for google's closeup map of the entire inhabited world being slightly inaccurate in some places- well, yes. Yes it is. They're working on it, but I'm continuously shocked that something of this magnitude ever works for anyone.



On another note, this is not the first experimental Arcade Fire music video, nor their most successful performance, but I believe it is the most interesting technologically and artistically. Although my personal favorite will always be the fan-made one for My Body is a Cage.

Neon Bible (also slightly interactive)
Rebellion(Lies)
Laika (Neighborhood part 2)
posted by sandswipe at 8:37 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


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