Popcorn maker

a Mozilla Corporation project

Charlotte Multon 10080605 & Ilan Mouyal 10078782

Introducing Popcorn Maker

Popcorn maker is a free on-line application developed by Mozilla Firefox. It allows everyone to make, share and remix some video or audio support with live web content, ranging from maps to social media feeds, and web links. The videos can be made or taken from platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. This new web video tool is aimed to revolution our relationship with video content. While video used to be a « black hole » according to Christian Heilmann, developer, Popcorn maker enables us to interact with what is now a workable element. This « Popcorn media wrapper » has been made possible thanks to the use of HTML5 over Flash, Silverlight or Quick Time.

The web content can come from various sources such as Twitter, Wikipedia, Flickr or Google Maps and can be in motion. In a nutshell, Popcorn maker creates the opportunity to open any video to any content of the Internet you wish to.

Those contents are accessible through Popcorn.js,  which is the open source software library powering Popcorn maker. Since it is linked back to its own source, users can have access to the web content through the video by simply clicking on it. All the links are updated while the video is playing, which means it is constantly evolving – just like the Internet.  

Popcorn maker has been launched in november 2012 at the Mozilla festival that happened in the UK, and it had been presented before at one of TED’s conference, a well-known organization promotiong  new ideas « worth spreading ». This emerging communication tool is the result of a cooperation between Mozilla, the Centre for Development of Open Technology at Seneca College, and volunteers from the Mozilla community.

(if the link isn't working, you can go directly on TED's website to watch the video here)

When initiating this Mozilla Webmaker project, the creators of Popcorn maker defined their aim as "helping millions of people move from using the web to making the web", since it is really easy to use. Educational benefits as well as journalistic interests have also been pointed out when it comes to what the web app can be used for. Indeed, Popcorn maker has been used for documentaries, such as the « Highrise project» by the National film board of Canada, or by the educational Platform Grockit, in order to provide some feedback for both teachers and students. It has also been used by journalists during the Obama campaign, with the possibility of integrating immediate tweeter reaction within the videos of the candidates or the journalists' speeches.

Popcorn maker can also be an extremely advantageous marketing communication tool:

It appears that Popcorn maker perfectly matches the new trends that have been observed in marketing. We have recently been shifting from mass communication to individualized communication with the new digital communication technologies, and Popcorn maker could possibly be the acumen of this phenomenon.

Indeed, the influence, in a general way, does no longer come from a leader. We are now facing an influence network where opinions flow not only from leader to follower, but  circulate in both directions. By making the public able to remix the videos with web content, Popcorn strengthens them in the role of new actors of the web, while they used to be passive when watching  videos displayed by filmmakers and developers.

Moreover, Popcorn maker can be seen as the ultimate product of the multiscreen watching trend that has recently been observed. Indeed we tend to watch several screens at the same time, and thus, by putting together web content with either video or audio content, Popcorn maker falls within the trend.

The marketing applications of Popcorn Maker can be really diverse. Regarding the growing individualized communication trend, it could be a tool to tailor messages to some specific interests of a consumer, through the access to live web content. For instance, we could imagine an advertisement for a product including a Google map window within the video. It would indicate to the consumer the closest store to buy the product in the area where he is currently watching the video, whose location would be found thanks to the live web connection. It could also have a link to the Facebook page of the product, the brand, the store, the restaurant, etc, with updates, new products, specials and reductions going on at the moment. The main strength of Popcorn is that it provides live content instead of fixed popups (although it is possible to insert fixed popups in the videos as well). While YouTube innovated with the possibility of inserting captions in the videos with links to other videos, Popcorn enhances by far the idea and the process, making any video a potential live hub to the whole web.  

By involving the public into the web communication making process, Popcorn maker matches the new communication challenges introduced by digital technologies. When promoting their products, marketing directors must understand what is at stake. They should take the network influence into consideration from now on. Thanks to Popcorn maker, clients will be able to pull ads from the internet and to add it some web content, before sharing it on social networks. This new possibility of interaction between a brand and its consumers could give a new perspective to traditional video advertising, providing it with an entire new role within the social networks.

The communication possibilities opened by Popcorn maker are almost infinite:

They’re just as numerous as the web’s pages, updates and variety of contents. The regular video tells a simple story, it has a plot and main characters or ideas. With Popcorn maker, the video “explodes” into something bigger, better and more appreciable, just like popcorn. A video won’t have one scale of viewing like it does now, it can have two, three, ten, even a hundred different scales. For instance, imagine that you are watching a regular advertisement: whatever the form is, it is mainly a presentation of the product or the service. But now imagine you’re watching an enhanced video: you can have instant access to any sources the video makers decided to add in it: Tweets, Facebook statuses and pages related to the product or service, other videos presenting it –or more detailed videos or information within the video (like a “how to use” tutorial inside the main video) -, reviews on the web, similar products, etc.

This could completely revolution the way advertisement is provided on the web: we are currently, as we said before, in a phase of individualized and precisely targeting advertisement. Imagine what the next step could be with Popcorn: group advertisement. Suppose that Facebook knows that you’re currently looking for a job in the accounting field. It will likely provide you with a company’s ad on recruitment. Now suppose that Facebook adopts Popcorn maker within its advertising system: it could provide, instead of a static shot of an ad, a small video, like a gif, with several different companies advertising for recruitments, with links, maps, reviews, newspaper articles, online articles and so on about the companies. Same could go for cleaning products, mp3 players, aesthetic products; anything can be considered.


Marketing managers should be careful when using Popcorn maker to make their ads. First of all, adding too much information within the video can strongly weaken its effectiveness, since it can break up its rhythm and trouble the art of the video. Second of all, the fact that it’s extremely simple to use and very simplified in its way of making a video interactive, it means that anyone can use it, and anyone means competitors, anti-lobbies, protestors and slanderers. Making a video opened to any link on the web means making it open to any critics, bad reviews, shocking revelations, and “why not to” videos that the Internet could possibly provide, and everyone knows it can. Just like Facebook has “like” pages, it also has “hate” pages as well: this should be taken deeply into consideration. However, this is not diminishing the learning capacity of the tool and its considerable potential to enhance videos into something bigger, smarter and more efficient.

An original example

Of how Popcorn maker could be used that we thought of would be on TripAdvisor. We thought the website could rebuild its structure to have a video for main presentation instead of several small categories. The video would be enhanced with every useful and information the user would want to see, and every possible commercial information the website would want to put in (regarding his partners especially). So, instead of browsing through all of Toronto’s aspects, you could simply sit, watch and learn: what’s Toronto like, what are the famous spots on the map, what’s the favorite attractions of the members with reviews, critics and comments popping up, what are the current events going on with specialized websites’ links and promotional ads popping, what are the cheap plans, what are the luxury spots, what partners TripAdvisor has in the city and so on, all those information running in front of a running video showing Toronto’s streets and monuments. To be more accurate, we could imagine that the video has several sections and that you can go from one another very easily just clicking on different spots of the timeline. If clicking on food, several popups show up simultaneously, all those popups being “main categories” ones (meaning it can be gourmet/cheap categories, world food categories, or even categories grouping the spots attended by certain types of population), and as you browse all those, ads, maps, reductions, reviews show up while the video goes on indefinitely until you’re done and you switch to another category, and so on.  

And that's it!

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