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[Best of 2014] The Year in Film

2014 was an immersive year for film.

In 2014, film escaped its 2D confines on the silver screen, becoming more malleable a medium so that audiences could interact within their worlds. Not only did technology become a recurring character in many of this year’s blockbusters, innovative techniques and tools allowed filmmakers, VFX directors, and animators to push their creativity in new directions: we saw the rise of virtual reality and multimedia experiments in cinema, which hint at the ever evolving future of film, and at the same time observed a return back to celluloid's analog roots. Massive world-building, never-before-possible visuals from CGI and 3D, and immersive, enhanced cinematic experiences were 2014’s greatest hits in the film world.

This is the Year in Film:

+ The first feature film was released for Oculus Rift, an immersive horror flick.

+ In a documentary inspired by Spike Jonze’s Her, creatives including LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and actress Olivia Wilde described their personal experiences with love and the impact of technology.

+ Robot film Construct made CGI look even more realistic using a new technique of combining ray tracing software with motion capture techniques.

A still from 'Eye Know'

+ Tokyo night lights turned into a kaleidoscopic symphony of light in Hiroshi Kondo’s short film, Eye Know.

+ The fate of star-crossed lovers was in our hands for interactive filmPossibilia, which was this year’s Future of Storytelling Prize winner.

+ We spoke with Factory Fifteen about creating the disintegrating apocalyptic universe for their short film for The Bug's "Function / Void."

+ A Google Glass-donning FKA twigs danced and digitally multiplied in a film for Google Glass. 

From Tobias Stretch's music video for Christopher Bono's "Unity" via

+ A new animation star was born in Tobias Stretch, who walked us through the process of creating entropy for his stop-motion music video masterpiece for Christopher Bono's song, "Unity." 

+ Jean Luc Godard made this year’s most surprising 3D film, and we took a look behind-the-scenes with his longtime cinematographer, Fabrice D’Aragno.

+ We stared at a movie that stared back at us, and peered into Imogen Heap’s life through a documentary made from her social media.

Image via The Movie Bit

+ For its first reboot in a decade, the newest incarnation of Godzilla would have taken 450 years to design on a single computer.

+ In May, we premiered the video centerpiece for the Sónar Festival, “a mixture between Jaws, God Save the Queen and The Exorcist” as director Sergio Caballero describes.

+ Interactive film Leviathan revealed the massive potential for video games intertwined with augmented reality to create new forms of cinema.

+ We digested short films that deconstructed interplanetary relationships and transformed greenhouses into a surreal jungle.

+ Journalist Nonny de la Peña, a pioneer of “immersive journalism,” showed how reporting could be revolutionized with virtual reality.

Thjorsá River #1, Iceland, 2012, Edward Burtynsky.

+ Canadian filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier documented photographer Edward Burtynsky’s journey to capture massive panoramas of the world’s bodies of water -- both natural and manufactured.

+ The directors of Obvious Child and Fishing Without Nets shared what they learned from working on their first feature films.

A sketch of a car in 'Snowpiercer.'

Snowpiercer’s production designer took us aboard the train, and Ernest and Celestine’s animators invited us into the drawing room.

+ In June, MoMA acquired Bjork’s Biophilia project, a visual experience of music and the first app to be added to their permanent collection. During the summer, Bjork’s documentary premiered.

+ Production house Bot & Dolly used robot-powered projection mapping on moving objects to tell a story in their film, Box.

+ We debated the best electronic film soundtracks, dissected future technologies in films, and watched a movie from the perspective of a computer.

Michael Fassbender as the artificially-intelligent David interacts with Dr. Shaw's cryopod in Prometheus. © 2012 - Twentieth Century Fox

+ Creative director David Sheldon Hicks, who worked on the motion, digital, and graphic design for Guardians of the Galaxy and Prometheuswrote an article for us about how graphic interfaces could be a powerful tools for storytelling.

+ Immersive documentaries took us from Los Sures, Brooklyn to Gaza.

+ We looked inside the mind of a Gulf War vet through a first-person digital novella, experienced cyberwarfare in multimedia formats, and walked through a year of someone else’s life through an interactive diary.

Different camera angles employed in 'Internet Machine.'

+ “The Cloud” became tangible in Timo Arnall’s documentary, Internet Machine.

+ We examined the VFX of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Cosmos, the Physics series, I Origins, The Amazing Spider Man 2, and The Double.

+ The film’s technical supervisor showed us how Disney built their biggest world ever for Big Hero 6.

A GIF from Ishtar, via

+ We descended into the underworld with Kinect-based filmIshtar.

+ Master Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki created the illusion of a single massive tracking shot for Birdman, and we rewinded back to his previous work on Gravity to Y Tu Mamá También.

Still from New Nosthetics

+ In short film New Nosthetics, virtual objects emerged and floated within a pastel landscape.

+ Filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker turned four minutes of traffic footage into an infographic of color patterns.

«Relief», Julien Maire

+ In October, we watched a film without film, a zoetropic animation made of 85 3D-printed figurines.

+ Artist Yorgo Alexopoulos transformed still images into cinematic 2.5d works.

+ We learned the secret to sound in movie trailers, and met the crowd-sourced cast of the Banksy documentary.

+ And finally, we dived into a spacescape dreamed up by Danger Mouse and Broken Bells, a short film broken up into parts one and two.

This is the part eleven of our end-of-the-year series. Stay tuned as we continue to look back on 2014 and collect all of our favorite examples of modern creativity, fantastic innovations, and important trends.

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