OK Go The One Moment

Today I wanted to share with you something I watched over the weekend, the music video for OK Go‘s “The One Moment,” from their album Hungry Ghosts. We don’t typically cover music videos on /Film, but I thought this one was worth our focus. If you watch one music video this year, make it this one.

OK Go The One Moment Music Video

The music video was captured in 4.2 seconds but slowed down to 4 minutes presenting 318 events (54 colored salt bursts behind Tim, 23 exploding paint buckets, 128 gold water balloons, etc.), each triggered digitally to set off several hundred events in extremely quick succession, and presented in super slow motion. The video is not just slowed down to one speed, but each section has its own constant rate. For instance, when the guitars explode we are watching 200x slower than reality (6,000 frames per second), but Tim and Andy’s short bursts of lip sync 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.

You might think this is a nightmare to plan, and you’d be right.The events were synchronized to the music. OK Go explains:

The whole point of the video is to explore a time scale that we can’t normally experience, but because it’s so inaccessible to us, our tools for dealing with it are indirect. The only way we can really communicate with that realm is through math. The choreography for this video was a big web of numbers — I made a motherfucker of a spreadsheet. It had dozens of connected worksheets feeding off of a master sheet 25 columns wide and nearly 400 rows long. It calculated 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. Here’s a screen shot of just the first few lines, to give you a sense.

Planning all of this is not easy, and looks like this Google spreadsheet:

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I grew up as a cinephile in an age where some of the most visionary filmmakers came out of the world of music videos. Names like Michael Bay, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Zack Snyder, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Tarsem Singh, Alex Proyas and Gore Verbinski. I haven’t been as impressed by the inventive visuals of the format as much the last decade, but this might be because MTV shed its skin and the videos have less money to play with, or it may just be that I am aged-out of watching the new music videos which now live on YouTube.

The music video for OK Go’s “The One Moment” definitely reminds me of Gondry and Jonze’s early work, as does their earlier viral music videos. All of them are so smart, inventive, visual and wonderful. Most interesting is that the videos are directed by Damian Kulash, not the traditional aspiring filmmaker, but the guitarist and lead singer for the band. You’ve probably seen the bands many other music videos, which have all gone viral. But in case you haven’t, I’ve included them below:

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