The Conversation: Exploring "The Wilderness Downtown"

Google employees explain new tech behind groundbreaking music video.

ByABC News
September 3, 2010, 12:07 PM

Sept. 3, 2010— -- Just press play on Arcade Fire's new web music video, "The Wilderness Downtown," and you'll know that you're seeing a glimpse of the future of entertainment.

Utilizing cutting-edge internet technology, the Montreal-based rock band, along with director Chris Milk and partners at Google, have created an interactive media experience.

Users type in their childhood address, and a custom-generated music video is created featuring images of their childhood home and neighborhood, pulled from Google Maps and Street View.

"You do get a little bit of the feeling of, 'Wow, I felt a little bit like I was there again,'" said Andy Berndt, vice president of Google's creative lab.

"The Wilderness Downtown" relies on HTML5 technology, a new web development standard that allows programmers to use web browsers in a whole new way. Windows pop open and closed in a choreographed fashion, and video, graphics, and text can be combined in real-time.

"When you're writing programs, you can become kind of jaded just looking at a text editor," said George Michael Brower, a Google designer and technologist who worked on the project. "But when you press run, you see that in your web browser, and it's pulling in information that just has so much emotional value to it."

Today on the Conversation, ABC's Jeremy Hubbard spoke to both Berndt and Brower about the groundbreaking project and what it means for the future of the internet and entertainment.

"When you put coders together with directors and a musician, they all begin to say, 'Well, this can do this, and this can do this,'" said Berndt. "Hopefully there'll be more."

We hope you'll watch.

See the project for yourself at

Click here to watch more from the Conversation series.

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