Shooting in Zero-G in a Single Take: Behind the Scenes of OK Go's New Music Video
Four words: Zero. Gravity. Music. Video.
The alt rock band OK Go is known for their unusual music videos, like the one in which they performed a choreographed dance on treadmills, but the one for their latest single "Upside Down & Inside Out" really takes the cake -- mostly because it was filmed during a parabolic flight with Russian airliner S7 Airlines -- that means zero-g, people!
Check out the highly choreographed video below, and continue on for some behind the scenes goodness.
A few behind-the-scenes materials have made their way onto the internet, including a blog post from travel blogger Alex Cheban (which is in Russian, so you might want to click that translate button if you're not fluent), which shares a bunch of great BTS photos, as well as a few interesting (though not cine-centric) details about the shoot.
And then there's this BTS featurette from Stereogum:
But the band has put in some extra effort to give fans and curious cats a glimpse inside the shoot (a great way to get a lot of press), providing a few teaser videos and a FAQ page on their official site that gives a ton of details about what went on during shooting, like how directors Damian Kulash, Jr. (the band's frontman) and Trish Sie, as well as DP Evgeniy Ermolenko planned to pull off a meticulously choreographed piece in such uncontrollable conditions:
It took months plan and set up, but we were actually on site near the Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia for 3 weeks. During that time we did 21 flights, with 15 zero gravity parabolas per flight, for a total of about two hours and fifteen minutes in weightlessness. For the first week we did test flights to figure out which ideas would work and which wouldn’t. How hard is it to control yourself? If you do a really cool flip once, can you repeat it? What looks cooler in zero gravity: a chain of a string of beads? Toothpaste or a shaken can of soda? How hard is it to place place a tablet in the air and just have it stay still? By the second week, we’d chosen our favorite ideas; we had our bag of tricks, and we assembled them into a routine and rehearsed it. The third week was proper shooting, we just ran the routine 8 times over 8 flights.
They also explain how the crew of 60 managed to shoot the video in a single take even though weightlessness on a parabolic flight only lasts about 27 seconds.
The video is a single take, but there is some time removed to make that possible.
The longest period of weightlessness that it is possible to achieve in these circumstances is about 27 seconds, and after each period of weightlessness, it takes about five minutes for the plane to recover and prepare for then next round. Because we wanted the video to be a single, uninterrupted routine, we shot continuously over the course of 8 consecutive weightless periods, which took about 45 minutes, total. We paused our actions, and the music, during the non-weightless periods, and then cut out these sections and smoothed over each transition with a morph.
It also mentions how they were able to synch up the song with the moments of weightlessness to get the timing of the choreography right:
You might notice that these moments [weightlessness] aren’t 27 seconds apart. That’s because the song moves in musical sections that are a little less than 21 seconds long, and it was important to us that the punctuations of gravity in our routine work musically with the song. To fit the 27-second periods weightlessness into 21-second sections of music, we performed our routine slightly slower than what you see here (the song is normally 92.5 BPM, and we performed it at 72 BPM), and later sped up the footage (28.47%) to bring it back up to normal speed.