You've surely seen stop-motion music videos that come with stats listing the number of paper cut-outs or photos that it took to create the final product. Leave it to OK Go to go way beyond what anyone else would, using 567 synchronized printers to spit out colored paper prints and create something that's the equivalent to the most complex video wall. In fact, the colorful effects are so insane, that it apparently goes beyond the bit rates limitations of YouTube's compression algorithm, so it comes with a warning to manually select something above the usual 1080p HD for the best experience.
Damien Kulash, Jr., OK Go: "This song is about how our most intense and complicated emotions are also our simplest and most universal. Obsession is so overwhelming and perplexing, but it's also so binary and basic - everything's normal and then suddenly it's not. For the video, we wanted that same idea: take the simplest thing and just revel in how powerful and not-simple it really is. And animation is that - it's just one picture on one piece of paper, then another, and then another, and somehow that progression turns into a whole universe. So we tried to create the physical version of that universe, a room where the walls can change into anything you imagine, but everything is made of just one piece of paper following the last."
Why spend all day shooting a video when you can get what you need in 4.2 seconds. That's the trick of this latest ingenious OK Go clip, where they carefully choreographed what becomes a full, proper music video to the length of the song when displayed in super slo-mo.
How'd they do it? Luckily, frontman and video director Damian Kulash, Jr. cares to share, providing a Background Notes page breaking down the intricate plotting needed to make sure the 318 seperate "events" got captured correctly via seven highspeed cameras controlled by robotic arms. Shit, he even shares his spreadsheet to see how detailed you need to be.
To go where no video has gone before? Not quite, since Commander Chris Hadley did that version of "Space Oddity" from an actual space station in orbit, but leave it to OK Go to seriously up the complexity. "Upside Down & Inside Out" is another one-take wonder, this time shot in zero gravity aboard an S7 airlines plane.
Also of note: Does the fact that S7 aka Russia's Siberia Airlines just made the greatest aviation viral video mean that the US is losing this space race?? We really do need to make America great again, at least in terms of corporate-funded works of fun art like this.
Well, here they go again... OK Go delivery yet another one-take video that showcases all the hallmarks you've come to expect, but with twists a'plenty. This time they're on Honda UNI-CUB Scooter Seats, cruising magically through Chiba, Japan, with a drone-mounted camera staying one step ahead of them until it cruises thousands of feet into the air to capture a troupe of dancers and strategic umbrellas to create a sort of dot matrix stop-animation.
What if Obama called OK Go and said, "OK guys, we need a viral video for The Star-Spangled Banner. Make it patriotic. Spend whatever you need, but it's gotta go viral."
This is not that video. But, it's a fun, even if not entirely accurate, insight into the OK Go creative process and how they maximize virality potential. PS: Their idea involves Jimi Hendrix with a cat head and giant bosoms, which does sound like Internet gold.
“We don’t view [music videos] as promotional materials for the ‘real’ thing, the song. To us the song is the real thing when you’re listening to the song and the music video is the real thing when you’re watching the music video.” - Damien Kulash, OK Go [source]
I moderated a panel the other week at the New Music Seminar where a big part of the discussion was about how in an era where people are consuming music via devices with screens attached — computers, mobile devices, TVs — there needs to be a visual for every song. And ideally that visual should be a video, and it should be compelling. It should either reinforce the meaning and appeal of the song, and it should inspire you to stay tuned, rewatch and share it with others. That's a lot to accomplish, especially if you're deaing with the typical budget and timeline of a music video production.
OK Go have certain luxuries and attributes that should make other bands envious — none more so than a relentless commitment to creativity — but it's still awe-inspiring that "The Writing's On The Wall" checks off every need from my usual video wishlist. It's the kind of video that you can appreciate without knowing anything on the "how'd they do that" tip, but becomes all the more impressive the more you see the moving parts behind it all (some of which are provided in this Making Of)...
The writing is indeed on the wall. You need a video for every song. Nielsen may proudly boast that radio is still the primary means by which people "discover" music, but even they also note that the #1 source for teens is YouTube. And just watch those numbers continue to flip over the next few years... If your potential fans are initially experiencing your music through a visual platform, then shouldn't the visual be prioritized?
OK, go watch this video right now. Don't read my nonsense. Just watch it, because OK Go have made all their previous videos look like mere sketches compared to this utter brainteaser. "The Writings On The Wall" us filled enough illusions and perspective gags to carry many music videos, let alone just one masterpiece like this.