Watch 318 things happen in 4.2 seconds, all timed and executed to perfection.
OK Go have achieved much more notoriety for their inventive music videos than for the actual music that accompanies them, but that’s hardly a criticism – they’ve just managed to take the medium of music videos to fascinating new places over the life of their band.
To their credit, the array of videos they’ve released have been so varied that there’s no common genetic that serves as the hallmark of an OK Go video. Their first and most popular outing saw them choreographing their entire song “Here It Goes Again” (in one take!) using treadmills. Since that auspicious debut, they’ve incorporated Rube Goldberg machines, zero gravity, and cars as instruments into their videos.
This time around, for their newest song, the aptly-named “The One Moment,” the video is an exercise in speed, explosion, and intricate planning. If you married the sensibilities of Martin Scorsese, Bobby Fisher, Bill Belichick, and a demolition expert, you’ll start to get the idea of what went into this video:
The entire video was shot in 4.2 seconds. The song lasts three and a half minutes. That huge disparity exists because OK Go managed to choreograph the video to within an inch of its life so that the 4.2-second clip, when slowed down, plays perfectly in sync with the song. Explosions go off on drum beats, band members turn in time, and the cameras catch it all just as they should.
Adding a degree of complexity to an already absurdly complex concept, a band member kicks off the video by offering a flip book, with each page featuring the singer mouthing along in time with the lyrics. Bear in mind that this aspect of the video is less than a second long, so coordinating the visual with the audio requires an effort that goes far beyond “precise.”
To even further disrupt the viewer, the video does switch to real time for a scant 16 seconds before returning to slow-motion as a conclusion. It’s a pretty amazing little dance these guys perform for us.
It’s a lot to take in, but fortunately, they took almost as much effort in documenting the production as they did in the video itself:
In fact, the orchestration here goes so far beyond the realms of conventional editing and cinematography, that even calling it “art” seems to neglect the seemingly athletic nature of getting so much to happen so precisely in such an eye-blinkingly short period of time. If you’re looking for metrics and stats (Does anyone have OK Go on their avant-garde music video fantasy team?) singer/director Damian Kulash has them in spades. He says in the notes for the video:
[T]here are 318 events (54 colored salt bursts behind Tim, 23 exploding paint buckets, 128 gold water balloons, etc.) that were synchronized to the music before the breakdown.
Then there’s the matter of coordinating frame rates, the mere discussion of which could give laypeople like us a nosebleed:
It is not all one speed, but each section is at a constant rate, meaning that time does not “ramp” (accelerate or decelerate). We just toggle from one speed to another. 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.
So while I’m not sure I’d line these guys up next to Michael Phelps or Kyrie Irving, it’s not a stretch to think of these guys in the same category as hyper-prepared coaches managing every conceivable factor to get off that one perfect play. And if anyone, in any career, has achieved more in 4.2 seconds, we’d love to see it.