Most Ingenious: Obsolete Gadgets Play 'House of the Rising Sun'
Most Beautiful: Iceland's Midnight Sun
Photographer Joe Capra spent 17 sleepless nights traveling across Iceland in June, shooting stunning time-lapse videos of the never-ending sunsets that occur in the summer months at northern latitudes. At night, the sun actually travels horizontally across the sky, as you can see at 00:51 in this video.
Most Experimental: Soap Bubbles Become Terrifying Magnetic Ooze
Kim Pimmel is a designer, filmmaker, and inventor whose Compressed series taps the science of magnetism, capillary action, and fluid dynamics to create gorgeous cinematic time-lapse videos that look out of this world. This video transforms ordinary soap and water into an ominous, alien bubblescape.
"I wanted the images to be unflinching in their detail," Isa Leshko explains in this short documentary about her work by Mark and Angela Walley. "I'm looking at mortality and aging, and that's not easy subject material." Leshko began the project after she spent a year caring for her mother who has Alzheimer's disease. Instead of photographing her family, she found an outlet for her experience in a series of portraits of aging farm animals. Her luminous photographs are a moving expression of empathy, but also a celebration of life.
Most Insightful: Everything Is a Remix
Spanning the light bulb, Led Zeppelin, Apple's first computer and Star Wars, Kirby Ferguson's sweeping, four-part documentary series asserts that all creative work is a recombination and transformation of existing elements. Full of juicy examples from pop culture over the decades, the series traces the evolution of remix culture through music, cinema, and technology. Watch the full series here.
Most Coordinated: Visualizing the Complexity of Electronic Music
Most Revealing: The Hidden Infrastructure of the Internet
Most Terrifying: Firefighter Helmet Cam Footage From 'Burn'
See a blazing house through the eyes of a firefighter in this helmet cam footage from Burn, a documentary about a fire company in Detroit, a city with one of the highest arson rates in the country. You can watch the trailer for the film here and read an interview with the filmmakers, Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez, here.
Most Surreal: Inside the Twisted World of an IKEA Catalog
The genre: sci-fi. The prop: glasses. The line of dialogue: "Amazingly beautiful, yet hopelessly impractical." These were the mandatory ingredients for this short film, created by Jeroen Houben, Tim Arts and Stefan van den Boogaard in just two days for a 48 hour film contest in the Netherlands. The result was Page 23, a brilliant satire of an IKEA-style domestic fantasy.
Casey Neistat filmed the scene at Zuccotti Park between 1am and 6pm on November 15, when police emptied the park and arrested protesters. Here, he pairs the footage with Sinatra's "New York, New York" for an ironic twist.
Most Inspiring: A Toy Robot's Cross-Country Road Trip, via Google Street View
Tom Jenkins's short film Address Is Approximate tells the whimsical story of one toy's journey to the California coast, using stop-motion animation to bring an office space to life.
Most Entertaining: A Montage of Astronauts Falling on the Moon
YouTube user SaturnApollo has compiled a blooper reel of astronauts tripping over Moon rocks and generally struggling to stay vertical, even though the Moon's gravity is only about one-sixth as strong as Earth's.
Most Suspenseful: 'The Gift': A Russian Sci-Fi Mini Thriller With a Twist
A mysterious box sparks mayhem among men and robots in The Gift, a short film directed by Carl Erik Rinsch. The film was made for Philips Cinema's Parallel Lines film series, but it transcends the limitations of branded content and short fiction in general -- not to mention the usual sci-fi clichés.
Scott Benson's animated music video for Rendezvous's head-bobbing track "The Murf" packs the entire evolution of our little species into three and a half minutes. From our first attempts at crushing each other with rocks to future intergalactic exploration, it's a gorgeous meditation on who we are and where we're going.
Andy Baio synchronizes four YouTube videos of the now-infamous UC Davis protest on November 18, so one can watch events unfold from multiple, side-by-side perspectives. The credits for the source footage can be found here.
Most Nostalgic: The Cinematic Cameos of the Twin Towers
Cartoonist Dan Meth created this epic mashup of movie scenes featuring the Twin Towers. Spanning 1969 to 2001 with a perfect, decade-by-decade soundtrack, it's a love letter to New York, and the towers that once defined its skyline.
Most Awe-Inspiring: Time-Lapse of the Earth From Space
NASA recently released these spectacular time-lapse videos of Earth, created from thousands of photographs taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station. We've edited together the highlights, which include soaring over the Mediterranean, North America, the Middle East, and Africa. Keep an eye out for the red and green aurora borealis and australis over the poles, as well as bursts of lighting in the clouds. All the videos are courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
In July, 24-year-old Seanna Sharpe scaled the Williamsburg Bridge to perform a jaw-dropping, and totally illegal, acrobatics show. Shortly thereafter, she was arrested and handcuffed. According to this short documentary, she was charged with a felony, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor. Fans raised her bail in under an hour, via Twitter. Filmmaker and artist Ronen V captures the whole amazing story in this video, incorporating footage shot by the crowd on cell phones and cameras.
Most Quirky : The Mysterious Life of Jerry's Map
Before Sim City or FarmVille, there was Jerry's map. In the 1960s, Jerry Gretzinger began drawing a fantastical, growing map of unbelievable scope. It began with just a doodle, but now it takes up almost 2,000 8" x 10" frames. His meticulous, iterative process intrigued documentary filmmaker Gregory Whitmore, who created this portrait of Gretzinger about two years ago.
Most Adorable: Cats in Zero Gravity
The audience choice award has to go to this gem from the Internet Archive. Michelle Legro submitted it soon after I promised there would be no cat videos on the Atlantic Video channel. Now see how far we've come!
This list is just the tip of the iceberg, and of course many amazing videos didn't quite make it. If you don't see one of your favorites, let us know in the comments. Thanks for watching, and happy new year!