Chances are if you spend much time on the Internet at all, you saw OK Go’s video for “This Too Shall Pass.” Er, there were actually about four different videos for the song, each decidedly different. But I’m talking about the Rube Goldberg Machine version—the one with 31M+ views. This one. (If you don’t want to click on it now, the video is at the end of the TED Talk embedded at the end of the blog.)
Oh, did I say TED Talk? Yes, TED Talk. I watched one of them for this blog. The talk was by Adam Sadowsky. You might not know him from Adam (get it? Ha!), but he’s the guy who oversaw the engineering in this intricate and elaborate music video. He explains what the experience was like.
This isn’t the band’s first viral video. They made the one with the treadmill dancing, too. So they’re not clueless on the matter. Thus, they gave Adam a list of Ten Commandments:
- No “magic”
- Band integration
- Machine action should follow song
- Make use of the space
- Machine starts the music
- Synched to rhythm & hit specific beats
- End precisely on time
- Machine should PLAY part of the song
- All in one shot
A daunting task, yes? After 85 run-throughs (with only three that successfully made it to the end), they got it to their liking. And needless to say, it was a hit.
I’ve discussed with friends that OK Go are better at making videos than music. But today, that’s almost what’s necessary for a band to get a following. As I mentioned in my previous blog, these days an artist almost has to be a promoter first to interest people, then an artist second. I’m not sure about the attendance of OK Go concerts, but I do know that they’re great at marketing themselves. And sometimes that’s what it takes.
Here’s the TED Talk, which was enjoyable, informative, and brief: