Weekend Vid Picks: Life in Slow-Motion

“Jesus is magic,” says Sarah Silverman, but for those who have a hard time believing in Jesus or magic, Easter weekend is pretty much just an excuse to eat egg-shaped chocolate. But how to capture that feeling of religious wonder on your own secular terms? By taking unremarkable items and moments and slowing them down a little. By utilizing one of the oldest techniques in cinema history, these shorts take ordinary objects and make their movement into something extraordinary.

The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build a House” gives this commercial an ethereal quality, which Schweppes tries to brand as “Schweppervescence.” But even fake buzz words can’t detract from the awe of watching a water balloon fall to Earth, rippling on impact, exploding into ether. Created by Australian ad agency George Patterson Y&R, “Burst” makes a water balloon fight into a work of art.

Here, a bullet moves from left to right, tearing through objects like an apple, a bottle of water, and a raw egg, the splatter of destruction taking on a Pollack-esque quality. While the images of this video are violent, there’s a grace to them, making its last beat all the more jarring. Set to Maria Callas’s performance of “Casta Diva” (from Bellini’s Norma), this PSA from Choice FM is meant to be an attack on gun violence in the UK, and it’s more than effective.

If you have ten minutes to spare and want to zone out to some beautiful imagery, this compilation of high FPS slow-motion action contains video of, among other moments, popcorn popping in a hot pan, a beer glass being subjected to high-frequency noise, and a pencil skewering a tomato. It proves that it’s possible to overdose on wonder.

This list would be incomplete without one of the first and most famous slow-motion ads to go viral — Sony Bravia’s legendary San Francisco bouncy balls spot. If it’s been a while since you last saw this, indulge in a repeat viewing. And if you’ve seen it recently, you owe it to yourself to watch the high-res version, as well as the behind-the-scenes footage (watching the crew duck behind riot shields as the balls descend upon them in no way detracts from the beauty of this spot).

I don’t mean to say that a video of bouncy balls is a substitute for organized religion. But a religious experience is finding that sense of the extraordinary in one’s ordinary life. And sometimes, one can find awe in the oddest places. Including YouTube.