How to Watch This Movie If you start the film by clicking ‘Explore,’ then you’re the director. Here’s how it works.1. The mouse or arrow keys control the camera; use them to move throughout the 3-D world of the film. 2. Each image with a title tells a different story. Click or press ‘Enter’ to find out what it is. 3. Tap floating boxes to get additional information from Wikipedia or images from Flickr. 4. Is it getting dark in there? Or lighter? That’s intentional. The environment changes based on the time and weather conditions at the Toronto high-rises where the documentary was filmed. 5. The ‘Whole World’ section will find a high-rise tower similar to the one in the documentary in any country you choose and display it using Google Maps’ street view. 6. Get lost? Hitting ‘Return’ brings you back to the center of the environment.
‘This is a movie about a 3-D space, so let’s make it in 3-D space.’After that revelation, the documentary, part of a series of media projects produced by Canada’s National Film Board called Highrise, was completely re-imagined. Robbins began collaborating with Bobby Richter, who worked on a Flash-based web documentary for Cizek called Out My Window before moving on to Mozilla’s Web Made Movies project and Popcorn. What they created amazed even those who had been working with Popcorn from the beginning. “The way One Millionth Tower uses Popcorn is a great example of a use we didn’t anticipate,” Brett Gaylor, project lead for the Web Made Movies initiative, said in an e-mail to Wired.com. “Back when Kat approached us, we were very much thinking in terms of integrating other web services — like Twitter and Google Maps — into and alongside video. When Mike showed us how he was using it to trigger the camera in a 3-D scene, a light bulb wet off.” As futuristic as One Millionth Tower is, it’s influenced by a project the publicly funded National Film Board started back in the 1960s. Called the Challenge for Change, a major initiative of the undertaking was to use then-new film and video technologies for making documentaries about social issues. The Highrise program was intended as a way to re-envision that project with modern tools, said National Film Board head Tom Perlmutter. “That’s our greatest responsibility: to constantly take risks, constantly push boundaries,” Perlmutter told Wired.com. “If we’re not doing that, then we don’t deserve to be funded.” One Millionth Tower is just the beginning. Nearly everyone from the film board and Mozilla notes that the greatest innovations in Popcorn-enabled web movies will be made by future generations of filmmakers. Even Cizek — who accepted a Webby honor with the words, “The internet is a documentary” — acknowledges the best is yet to come. “What we’ve done with One Millionth Tower is not the future,” Cizek said. “It just points to it.”