One Millionth Tower

The design for One Millionth Tower is inspired - the main interface of the project places the viewer in the grounds of the towers, able to walk around and explore. Six short videos cover different aspects of the towers that the group addressed, with animations laid over the areas transforming the drab surrounds into colourful meccas of community. Simple and practical ideas are suggested - a vegetable garden here, a brightened thoroughfare there. Of course every idea needs money to make it happen, but when demonstrated in such a unique way I would imagine it works to not only garner outside interest but also to inspire the residents to get involved and take ownership.

There’s also a video showing changes that have been made to tower blocks in other parts of the world, and the impact they’ve had on the local community - just putting a simple cafe in the bottom of a tower in Germany for example has made it a much more convivial environment. An interactive segment allowing the viewer to look at tower blocks around the world is a little clunkier. I can see it would have looked like a great idea on paper to have Google Street View and satellite images showing any country you choose, but the actual purpose is less clear - the maps start to merge into a melange of blocks and lines after a few and you can’t get close enough in most to pick out much detail.

One Millionth Tower has been built using Mozilla’s Popcorn, one of the latest tools in a clutch slowly emerging for making online documentaries. There are a couple of ‘making of’ videos, one in which the filmmakers talk about the importance of using open source technology as part of the essence of the project, and they’ve made the code for One Millionth Tower available to anyone who wants to play with it.

It’s a totally different experience from Out My Window - also an exciting project with oodles of content but a bit less of a central focus. One Millionth Tower is a shorter and more specific experience; it’s put together beautifully and holds the viewer all the way through. At its core it contains some really simple and transformative ideas about not just documentary design, but community engagement and change.

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About this Blog

One Millionth Tower, the next instalment in the ambitious NFB project Highrise, has just launched. Continuing on the central theme of highrise living, One Millionth Tower shifts focus from the global spread of the previous Highrise release Out My Window, and goes hyper-local, to a highrise housing block on the outskirts of Toronto. Subject to the same decay as many similar tower blocks around the world, the Toronto tower is windswept and unwelcoming. The filmmakers brought together residents, architects and animators to discuss their hopes for the precinct, and then to visualise these ideas.