November 23, 2016

How OK GO Stretched a 4.2-Second Shot into a 4-Minute Music Video

Known for their innovative music videos, the band one-ups themselves again with an insane new clip for 'The One Moment.'

With an ever-growing and increasingly impressive cannon of shorts to their name, we find ourselves wondering if it's high time for the members of OK GO to drop the mics and focus their efforts exclusively on cameras. In their last video, they took to parabolic flight on Russian airliner S7 Airlines, which we're pretty sure will be the only music video to be ever shot entirely in zero-gravity.

Their latest short for the song "The One Moment" takes a pretty simple premise we've seen before in music videos and literally blows it up. In past efforts, Spike Jonze and Matt Yoka have both used slow motion to create an illusion where other characters move slowly while the artist moves in real time. With this technique, you shoot things four times faster, so when you play it back in 24 frames, it displays in slow motion. You then multiply the speed of the film by four and multiply the speed of the song by four, so when you play it back, you return it to the actual speed at which the song plays.

"The One Moment" is a different beast entirely.

At the beginning of the video, we get a glimpse of the shot in real-time, which—from the beginning of the song until frontman and director Damian Kulash picks up the umbrella at the a cappella breakdown—unfolds over 4.2 seconds. It doesn't look like much but a series of rapid-fire explosions. Slowed down, however, we are treated to a stunning display of technical wizardry. 

What's perhaps most impressive is how well they managed to sync up the song with the incredibly fast "events," of which there are exactly 318. So how did they do it?

"We used very precise digital triggers to set off several hundred events in extremely quick succession. The triggers were synchronized to high speed robotic arms which whipped the cameras along the path of the action," Kulash explains on the band's official website.  "Though the routine was planned as a single event, currently no camera control systems exist which could move fast enough (or for many sections, change direction fast enough) to capture a movement this long and complex with a single camera, so the video you see connects seven camera movements."

Those events and explosions were plotted out prior to the big shot using simple mathematics. (Okay...maybe not so simple.)

Courtesy of OK GO.

This spreadsheet consists of  dozens of connected worksheets feeding off of a master sheet 25 columns wide and nearly 400 rows long. In Kulash's words, it "calculates the exact timing of each event from a variety of data that related the events to one another and to the time scale in which they were being shot."

On top of this intricate web of events, many were shot at different speeds. Each section was shot at a constant rate, but between the events they toggled from one speed to another.

Kulash breaks it down further: "When the guitars explode, we are 200x slower than reality (6,000 frames per second), but Tim and Andy’s short bursts of lip sync (Tim twice and Andy once) are only 3x slower than real life (90 frames per second). The watermelons are around 150x, and the spray paint cans are a little over 60x."

For more information on how Kulash and OK GO pulled this whole thing off, check out their behind the scenes video below.

Your Comment

11 Comments

WOW!!! Just wow! thanks for sharing :)

November 23, 2016 at 12:59PM

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Kevin Davidson
Director / Cinematographer / Editor
137

It's unbelievable, right?!

November 23, 2016 at 1:40PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Cool!

But: DAMN!
I was joking about shooting my next 48 Hour Film Project in a 10 second slowmo. Now everyone will think I stole the idea from OK Go...

November 23, 2016 at 1:50PM, Edited November 23, 1:50PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9026

Hi Walter
joke or no joke, still I would like to see your 48 hour film project in 10 second. I will not say that you stole the idea.... so... Ok.... Go.... do your staff and surprise us.... :-)

November 24, 2016 at 1:46AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
744

Insane!!!! The sheer collaboration between arts and maths is astounding!!!!!! Just beautiful!!!

November 23, 2016 at 2:26PM

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I had the great pleasure of creating the making of on this project. Thanks for checking it out. More in depth bts about the math and science behind it going up soon.

November 23, 2016 at 11:48PM

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Ross Harris
Director / Dp / Editor
74

Hi,
am dying to see that... please make it in 4 seconds... and we will play that in normal FPS.... so that will save your time of making and ours for waiting..... :-)

November 24, 2016 at 1:49AM, Edited November 24, 1:49AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
744

I applaud the effort and vision this took, but I do think it suffers a bit from a modern 'look what we can do' syndrome that promotes spectacle over meaning.
I was completely pushed away from any connection with the song, to the point where it could have been anybody singing about anything.

November 24, 2016 at 8:24AM, Edited November 24, 8:24AM

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I'm glad you said that, but I'd want to ask, as general questions:

-- Is there anything wrong with appreciating or enjoying something purely on the basis of the skill involved, or purely as spectacle? Does a sporting event or a fast drum solo need to be "meaningful"?

-- How do you create images that are meaning over spectacle? I mean, what's the general recipe? Pretty much all art is to some extent fake and in that respect not meaningful, right? That's part of what makes it art and not nature.

-- Could two people disagree over how "meaningful" something is? Could a Beatles song be meaningful to one person and shallow pop to another?

November 24, 2016 at 12:34PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
1027

No, there isn't anything wrong with appreciating craftsmanship in itself; and there is a lot on display here. It's also to be expected at a site populated by filmmakers that it's the production itself that is the focus of people's comments.
But music videos have a purpose and a tradition, and for me, they really don't work unless they seek to enhance the impact and resonance of the track itself.
I get that there is a 'moment in time' link to the lyrics, but from an emotional point of view I felt no real connect between what I was watching and what I was hearing. Lip-sync aside, you could probably play any song with a similar tempo behind these visuals and the effect to the viewer would be pretty much the same.

You would also like me to comment on 'meaningfulness' - but this song is *full* of meaning! It deals with the biggest themes of all - the inevitability of death, and the possibility of love offering a kind of fleeting consolation. While I'm not going to pretend it's my favourite track ever (not really my type of music), it's full of powerful and dark imagery ("the overgrowth is swallowing the path..."), and striking juxtapositions, like the brightness of the sound versus the subject matter's echoing void.

I disagree completely that fake = not meaningful. We search for meaning in our stories and sketches because we know that our knowledge of the world (both as individuals and collectively) is incomplete. When we connect with a movie character's fall from grace, we know that what we are watching is a construct, but we also know that there is the possibility of learning about the human condition through the work of a clever director, an insightful writer, a nuanced actor, etc.

There's no recipe for creating meaningful work except being honest with yourself and your audience about what you want to communicate. I find Chaplin meaningful, Studio Ghibli, Ken Loach too - but none of them use the same recipe.

Yes, two people can *and should* disagree over meaning; but you've got to give them something to disagree about in the first place! I think everybody can agree that explosions and paint bombs look cool, but beyond that I'm not greatly motivated to revisit the themes of the video (I am aware that there are oblique links going on here between entropy and the 'lives' of the objects depicted, etc. but it really wasn't resonating in any real way with me).

I don't need all art to be heavy and loaded with symbolism and testimony by any means, but at the same time it seems like we are living in quite a visually superficial age, just when we need it the least.
YouTube and Vimeo are full of showreels with technically striking showreels from shooters who are not making the connection with story and the human spirit, which is ultimately the whole point of making and watching films!

Finally, yes, I believe sporting events become so compelling because we invest them with meaning; we elect a hero, just like in the movies; we watch them overcome the odds, or slay all-comers; we admire their poise, their ingenuity, their daring; we gain inspiration; we share their victory and embody it; 'We won the pennant!'; we rehearse life's triumphs and upsets.

I could make a similar case for drum solos, but it would be a little tenuous.

November 25, 2016 at 6:12AM

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When you say it was 7 separate camera shots pieced together was this done as 7 takes (one for each section). I notice after the guitars when time returns to normal you can see the other sets in the background and the glass tank is not there and the paint and confetti from the spray cans and large dropped balls are not there. Plus you don't see any robotic cameras in those areas. So this makes me assume that the takes were indeed separate.

March 17, 2017 at 11:39AM, Edited March 17, 11:41AM

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