It’s time for a holiday edition of our column of new and noteworthy video essays! Granted, none of these videos are holiday themed; it’s just coming out in mid-December. This time around we have a lot of essays about tech-related subjects and history. As always, if you have a recommendation for an essay to feature in this series, or want to submit your own video for consideration, reach out to

Why Did Davy Jones Look SO Realistic?” by CGY

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This is a great look at how and why we perceive computer-generated effects as convincing, using the supernatural captain Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean films as a case study. Why does this early all-CGI character look so much better than many similar creations that have been made since? This video highlights all the subtle (often thoroughly mundane and lower-tech) aspects that helped sell the visual. Did you ever realize that because Jones is so moist, his skin didn’t have to react as realistically to light? I hadn’t!

Eclipse – The Demo That Sold 3D to Nintendo” by The Video Game History Foundation

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I had never heard of this early experiment in 3D video game graphics before. Despite the fact that video games have been around for less than half a century, the field already faces a dire preservation issue. For this reason, I’m glad that entities like the Video Game History Foundation exist. You don’t have to be technically minded to understand or appreciate this explanation of how incredibly simple tools conjured rudimentary three-dimensional visuals, and how a 17-year-old used them to demonstrate where graphics could go next. 

You’re Not Wrong, The Internet Is Different Now” by Garbage Day

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Ryan Broderick’s Garbage Day is one of the best tech-related newsletters out there, and I greatly appreciate his regular video supplement. This is fairly basic, as far as an essay goes — much of it is simply Broderick speaking to the camera. But his points are compelling and well-articulated. Why does the experience of using and being on the internet feel so qualitatively different now from what it used to be? The answer, as he sees it, is the evolution from peer-to-peer communication to a kind of “broadcast model” brought on by the rise of video-based and streaming social media apps.

The History of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out World Records” by Summoning Salt

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Summoning Salt covers speedrunning, the art/sport/pastime of trying to complete a video game as quickly as possible. There are competitive speedrunning scenes for every type of game you can think of, and this channel has produced fascinating and in-depth videos about many of those scenes. This installment covers the Nintendo classic Mike Tysons Punch-Out!!, and the evolving tricks that players have figured out over the years to find faster ways to beat it. This may mean shaving fractions of a second off one’s time — but that can make all the difference.

The Life on Lost Landmasses” by The Budget Museum

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This is a fun invitation to dive into further research. The lost island of Atlantis may not be real, but there were actual landforms that vanished beneath the sea — such as Doggerland, which long ago connected Britain to the European mainland, or the Bering land bridge that was once between Russia and Alaska. What kinds of creatures lived in these places? What kinds of humans lived there? Find out!

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.

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