Arcade Fire, Google Chrome / Reflektor
Indie band launches new single with interactive two-screen experience
Grammy Award-winning Canadian band Arcade Fire has partnered with Google Chrome for its latest single, Reflektor. An interactive video, directed by Vincent Morriset, lets viewers control the action by using their Chrome web browser and either a smartphone or tablet.
To experience the film, users must visit the microsite on their computer, and then connect their handset by heading to g.co/af in the Chrome mobile app. Participants can then choose to control the action using either their webcam or their mouse (tip: the webcam option provides a much richer experience).
Filmed in Haiti, 'the story follows a young woman who travels between her world and our own', according to the description on the website. Whilst following the story, viewers can control how rays of light reflect on the various characters. The action also skips onto the smartphone/tablet, and the webcam incorporates a 'selfie' of the viewer into the video towards the end.
The video relies on the gyroscope, accelerometer and camera in the connected handset to deliver the experience. The film (above) shows how Google's Aaron Koblin and production company Unit 9 created the video.
We've grown accustomed to Arcade Fire producing impressive digital executions to support their latest singles, and this one hasn't disappointed.
Controlling what's on your computer with a handset is nothing new, and has been used in a number of Google Chrome Experiments before, but this one seems to go further. Just a Reflektor doesn't just let you control (reflect) the light, it also plays parts of the song from the speakers in the connected phone, and incorporates the viewer at the end (if using a webcam). This provides a smart bit of personalisation to each experience, and means that participants remain interested throughout the seven minute song.
Arcade Fire wowed us back in 2010 with a similar Chrome Experiment for the single Wilderness Downtown. Users followed a journey using Google Street View that ended up with them returning to the home where they grew up as kids. Since then, we've seen a number of artists using web-based experiences to complement more traditional (non-interactive) music videos. This year, prog-rock band Light Light asked viewers to follow the action using their cursor for the single Kilo, and French musician ALB devised an ecommerce-enabled video in which he sold his possessions to fans to help fund the album.
All three examples show the capacity of digital to drive awareness, experience and dwell-time around a song launch. Crucially, web-based projects like these offer bands and labels new ways of engaging audiences by reaching out to both music lovers and those simply looking for an innovative online experience.