Today’s kind of a big day. Lots of things happening. The online video world is waiting to see if there will be any word on the possible sale of Hulu, as final bids are reportedly due today. Along the east coast of the U.S., a hurricane is about to make a lot of people’s lives miserable (here’s hoping everyone stays safe). It’s also the last day of your work week, and many of you are no doubt scrambling to finish some project or report before the weekend. But I hope you saved a little time for some videos.

This week was full of viral gems, with the usual suspects finding success: short films, branded social video, eye-witness video, and camera tricks. As far as what we can learn from these videos, some may be more helpful than others… but all of them are entertaining.

Short Films

I think I’m going to have to break down and find a way to play this Portal video game. In addition to being very popular as a video game, it keeps creeping into the online video world. This week saw the release of Portal: No Escape, a live-action fan film from creator Dan Trachtenberg. It’s moody, has great effects, and actually makes me want to play the video game. Take a look:

YouTube channel “EranAmir” brought us an outstanding short film called 500 People in 100 Seconds. He uses stop-motion in a very clever way, employing 500 people in Israel holding 1,500 still photographs to create a music video. It’s trippy and very cool:

Tempest Milky Way is one of my favorite videos of the week. It’s a short film paying homage to starry skies and storms. It’s somehow creepy and beautiful all at once:

Eye-Witness Video

Every week we see viral videos that simply wouldn’t exist if people weren’t in the right place at the exact right time–oh, and it doesn’t hurt that everyone’s cell phone has a video camera on it now.

Sometimes these are home movies. Sometimes they’re eye-witness video accounts of news and current events. But they’re all a result of our culture’s increased tendency to push “record.”

This first example is an incredible video of a car exploding right in a fireman’s face. To his credit, the man doesn’t seem to miss a beat, and they get the fire put out. The video description says this is shot from an apartment balcony in L.A. Again… not to belabor the point, but if cell-phone cameras aren’t so dominant, and if people weren’t pushing “record” at the first sign of something interesting… then this explosion is never captured on film:

Here’s a cute home-movie video of a little boy who is both falling asleep and eating an ice cream cone. Somehow this video sat unnoticed for two years before getting picked up this week by sites like Huffington Post and The Daily What.

Another video that sat for a while (three months) before going viral (again, thanks partly to The Daily What) is this ComiCon video. Are you a Star Trek fan? If so, you’ll probably love this video of Brent Spiner (Data) doing an impression of Patrick Stewart. If you’re not a Star Trek fan… it’s still a pretty good impression:

This week I learned something new. I learned that there were crumping contests for kids. Like… elementary school kids. And while the video definitely has some appeal as an oddity… these dancers are actually pretty darn good:

Branded Viral Success

Brands continue to discover unique ways to appeal to viewers with video, and this week was no exception.

Duck Brand duct tape put out an ad that leverages two pop-culture icons: the movie Tron, and the Internet’s infamous “Tron Guy.” It’s short, funny, and even includes some clever stop-motion work. Check it out:

A very popular trend in social video campaigns is to take the short film route, typically in documentary form. Here’s a great video about Wefi Surfboards, using high quality video to tell the story of the company’s workmanship and artistry:

Freddiew is a brand at this point, making a living on his videos and continuing to add subscribers and grow in popularity. Pretty much every video he puts out goes viral, and with good reason… his charm, humor, and special effects abilities make for a lethal combination. Here’s his latest hit, Bodycount, another military-shooter style video that actually plays things more straight and serious than usual… for the most part. He just keeps getting better and better as a filmmaker:

Grab Bag

Loved this video that gives a pretty great overview and explanation of copyright law:

One of my favorite clips of the whole week is one involving another very unique musical talent: the ability to beat box while also playing the flute:

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good re-cut video–where someone takes a well-known piece of entertainment and re-edits it to make it look like it has an entirely different tone–like The Shining re-cut as a trailer for a comedy film. This week’s version takes Seinfeld and gives it a Brokeback Mountain treatment:

Honorable Mention

Some of you aren’t ready to go back to work just yet, so here are a few more great videos from this past week: