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Summary:

It’s almost the end of 2010, and the best way I can figure to recognize yet another inspiring year in web video is to individually honor the stand-alone projects, followed tomorrow by the serialized ones, which really stood out since January. For me, anyway.

Screen shot 2010-12-29 at 5.55.35 PM

Every year since joining NewTeeVee, I spend the last days of the year figuring out what my favorite videos and shows of the previous 12 months were, and every year, I choose a new distinction to make between two categories of video content. For 2010, the best way I can figure to recognize yet another inspiring year in web video is to individually honor the stand-alone projects, followed tomorrow by the serialized ones, which really stood out since January. For me, anyway.

Project Rant: “Fake and Gay”

One of the cooler things that happened in 2010 was that NewTeeVee was asked to curate the front page of YouTube for a day. One of the less cool side effects was that the ten shows we featured all received an influx of, shall we say, less than supportive comments from the general Internet public.

One of those shows, Project Rant, chose to celebrate with a funny salute to those comments. And now the bullies… Well, they continued to call things “fake and gay.” But at least we can watch this, and laugh.

Jason Reitman: Lost In the Air

From earlier in the year comes a video by a guy who usually directs things on a much larger scale, but Jason Reitman’s video recreation of a three-month press tour, compressed to two and a half minutes, really captured the manic nature of the experience. Currently, this is the only video on Reitman’s Vimeo account — hopefully, we’ll see more such experiments from him in 2011.

Lost In The Air: The Jason Reitman Press Tour Simulator from Jason Reitman on Vimeo.

Keyboard Cat Redux

This is Ron Livingstone paying tribute to Keyboard Cat. It represents all the great viral videos that ever were or will be. It is magnificent.

Funny or Die: The 1982 Tron Christmas Special

Funny or Die has had a great year of producing stand-alone content with a topical edge, and director Scott Gairdner’s ode to the Star Wars Christmas Special and Tron represents only one of the hilarious shorts it gifted us in 2010. Lightcycles, a fake Dom Deluise, and the real Rip Taylor: Simply magical.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Interactive Trailer

This was just flat-out cool. Thanks to the folks at i-Trailers, the two-minute trailer for the nerdtastic Scott Pilgrim was transformed into an interactive video experience, one that included over an hour of original audio commentary provided by director Edgar Wright and engaged users for way more than two minutes. This concept isn’t necessarily the best way to introduce a film to a wide audience — Pilgrim was a box office flop — but as a reward for fans, not to mention a demonstration of what’s possible with Flash video, it was a winner.

Arcade Fire: The Wilderness Below

Meanwhile, one of the other great music videos of the year was a demonstration of what’s possible with HTML5 video. The Wilderness Downtown, a collaboration between Google, filmmaker Chris Milk and the Canadian band Arcade Fire (which also worked with YouTube on a Terry Gilliam-directed live concert this year), took no shortage of components and Google Chrome browser windows to illustrate the single We Used To Wait. I had some issues with this when it first debuted, but having tried it again, I’ve found that it’s true: You just have to sit back and let things happen.

Auto-Tune the News: Double Rainbow

Okay, yes, if you’re picking just one Auto-Tune the News viral remix to feature on a top 10 list, it would make more sense to pick the Billboard Top 100-placing single Bed Intruder. But Double Rainbow is the one that gets stuck in my head. So deal with it.

Crackle’s The Bannen Way

So I know you’re like, “Um, Liz, the first episodes of The Bannen Way came out in (very) late 2009, and also, um, it was episodic?”  But while it’s true The Bannen Way originally premiered as a web series, and was honored at the Streamys accordingly, its double identity as a low-budget independent film has me recognizing it as a stand-alone (something Crackle itself doing right now, by the way).

That’s because, while I do wish that there were fewer lingerie models and racial stereotypes, The Bannen Way feels like a complete whole when assembled as a feature: sleek, stylish and fast-paced. Bannen‘s success over the last year has made it an indelible part of web video history, and when people want to check it out, I’ll recommend they watch it as a whole.

Star Wars Uncut

While this project took months to complete, the finished product is a testament to clever engineering and crowd-sourced creativity (see also: Our Footloose Remake). Being on this list isn’t as good as winning an Emmy, but I’m doing the best I can here.

Star Wars: Uncut Trailer from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

OK Go — This Too Shall Pass

It was a big year for long-time viral video favorites OK Go, in which, fed up with EMI blocking embeds of its videos, they ditched their label to go independent. Before they left EMI, though, they proved the power of embedding with a second music video for the single This Too Shall Pass, a viral hit thanks to the visually dazzling spectacle of a massive Rube Goldberg machine. (Fun fact learned at SXSW 2010: There are two hidden cuts in what appears to be one continuous take.)

On a business level, This Too Shall Pass represents not only the power of the music video online, but also the growing inclusion of brand placement to fund increasingly lavish productions (see also: Lady Gaga and Beyonce in Telephone). But on a creative level, it’s just a delight.

What would you have put on your list? What am I an idiot for omitting? Please feel free to exposit in the comments. And look out for tomorrow’s Top 10 Serialized Favorites of 2010!

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  1. Though he’s been around for a while, I recently discovered Julian Smith (http://www.youtube.com/user/juliansmith87) and he has quickly become one of my favorites.

    The video he has created this year that I would include on my top 10 list would be Racist Coffee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APyr48GACzc While the title may instantly ruffle feathers, the song has a really good message plus a high-energy techno beat guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

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