Ah, digital photography and videos--my old, er, new friends. And powerful tools too: Good for capturing the passing moment. Or for documenting the passing year. Here are four videos that do just that, in very very different ways.
YouTube's Most Popular Clips of 2009
This was a big year for YouTube, with some innovations and a rising audience. But the most surprising thing about its most popular videos of 2009 was that the list was so music act-heavy that YouTube had to break it into two lists--one for music, one for everything else. As noted over at AllThingsD it's because otherwise "people like you and me, who have only a vague idea who Pitbull and Keri Hilson are, would have been totally baffled."
The music top ten crown went to Pitbull with I know you want me raking in over 88 million views, beating Miley Cyrus's The Climb into second place with just 64 million peeps. But the non-music list is topped by the winner of UK TV show "Britain's Got Talent" Susan Boyle...somewhat making a mockery of Google's list-splitting tactics. To that end, here's YouTube's third most popular non-music clip globally (which does have music in, but it's sweet and at least trying to raise money for charity.)
China's 2009 WebClips
Over at Shanghaiist, Elaine Chow has done a fab job of rounding up a slew of Internet videos and pics that you mightn't have seen. Unless you're a Chinese Netizen, that is. Among the gems are Obama Girl (an attractive student sitting behind President Obama at a speech, who paid to become a minor net celeb), Michael Jackson Face Boy (youngster doing amusing lip synchs to MJ songs) and Long Legs Girl (a volunteer at the Olympics opening ceremony, famous after people noticed her astonishingly long legs.)
Check out the list--it'll remind you that the Internet is not exclusively a U.S. phenomenon, or even one belonging to us here in what we deem the Western half of the globe. China too has its net crazies, and bad reality/talent TV shows: Here's a clip of Zeng Ki Ye. She was a contestant in the Happy Girls show, and though she didn't win, her mind-bogglingly bad singing somehow got her 15 minutes of fame.
Gawker's Top 100 Web Videos of 2009
The always lateral-thinking, nose-thumbing publication Gawker has crafted it's own slant on the webclips that helped defined this year online. And by webclips, I really do mean webclips: Funny dogs, cats, freakouts, fat kids, giant seagulls. Yes, it's what some might deem the dregs of this year's Internet video, while others (between snorts of laughter) will argue they're a perfect way to cheer up a boring day of work with some lunchtime *ahem* clip-viewing.
Gawker's list is topped by "The Amazing Beat Box Kid" and proceeds through "Kick to the Face #1," "Jesus Pwn3d U" and 96 others before arriving at "Keyboard cat." Check it out below. It's less than three minutes, and I guarantee you'll laugh, sob and snigger at least once each, before crashing into a blue funk and worrying about the state of the world you're living in.
Terrapin Gardens Farm
No idea what that sub-headline is going to lead to? Good. Watch this: It's long, at around 16 minutes, but it's the antidote to the clips above. And it's just calmly beautiful.
Something of a labor of love by editor/director Rick Scully, this is a time lapse masterpiece of snaps taken every two minutes for 365 days--ending on May 11th this year--of Terrapin Gardens Farm in Tunbridge, Vermont. Look closely and you'll see weather, the seasons, and the comings and goings of people, vehicles, animals and vegetation.
And aside from the fascination offered by that, the way Scully made the thing is novel all by itself: This was no super-expensive high tech deal. He hacked a very old JVC analog video camera together with a $75 video-capture card hooked up over USB 1.1 to an aging eMac that could only snag low-res (320 by 240 pixels) images, which he then compiled in iMove'09. This low-tech setup is a big part of the charm of the video. "A year goes by fast enough" as Scully notes, and technology presses ever forwards--in 2010 there will be a whole bunch more. And that makes it satisfying that there's still a place for low-fi solutions to artistic problems.