Whatever you think of OK Go (AKA That Band That Got Famous Dancing On Treadmills On YouTube), you can't say they're not faithful to their own brand: The One-Shot Wow. Their latest video, for the song "This Too Shall Pass," features the band members lipsyncing amongst the largest Rube Goldberg perpetual motion machine ever constructed. A piano is dropped, a TV is smashed, and (spoiler alert) each OK GOer ends up with paint on their face. We talked to the video's executive producer AJ Schnack (also the director of the They Might Be Giants doc Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns and Kurt Cobain: About a Son) about how it all happened.
Why perpetual motion?
The band wanted to do a video featuring a huge, Rube Goldberg machine - it reflects their general ethos of wanting to make videos that people could try to do themselves (or some variation thereof). I think they really like the idea of people watching the video and wanting to create their own machines (just as they liked kids doing the choreography of their previous videos for talent shows, marching bands, etc).
How did you put it together--was there a perpetual motion consultant?
The band put the word out to the creative nerd community that they wanted to make this RGM and asked for people to submit ideas and that's how they got connected with Adam Sadowsky of Synn Labs. (WIRED has a story on Synn's involvement, with links to behind-the-scenes videos).
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Where did you shoot? How long did it take to get the single shot that ended up as the video?
They started putting everything together back in November and moved into the warehouse space (it's in Echo Park on Glendale Blvd.), with the core action of building really kicking in during the last couple weeks prior to the shoot (which was the week of February 8). Took them 3 days of shooting to get it.
If people do want to try this at home, how much did this version cost?
I'm not sure of the exact cost but, to me, it's really interesting that the band had to find a sponsor to be able to make it (in this case, State Farm) rather than have it funded by their label (Capitol).