Watch CBS News

How did OK Go make their latest optical illusion music video?

Ok Go is making music video history again, eight years after the band's first video went viral with more than 21 million views
One-take wonder: Inside OK Go's elaborate new music video 03:22

OK Go's latest video "The Writing's on the Wall" is four minutes long and was shot in a single take, reports CBS News' Carter Evans. It features the band members moving through a series of 28 optical illusions and is meant to challenge your perspective with images that only become clear when the camera hits an exact mark.

"There were a lot of moving parts in this video. Or more specifically, there were a lot of very still parts in this video," OK Go's front man Damian Kulash said.

He also helped direct the video, which they shot earlier this month in a Brooklyn warehouse.

"We wanted you to sort of feel what it was like to run through that space and witness each of those things," Kulash said.

It feels like the viewer is right there with the group members.

"We literally are carrying the camera about half the time," Kulash said.

A team of more than 50 people spent three weeks building the set, painting the images and choreographing the moves.

"The choreography off screen is way more intense than the choreography on screen," Kulash said. "There are nine costume changes in the course of the video, and all of them have to happen in 20 seconds or less."

That included bassist Tim Nordwind who shaved half of his beard to pull off the mirror shot.

"It's actually a very simple visual effect. I mean, it's just mirrors, and if you're cool with shaving half your face, then it becomes very simple," Nordwind said.

In an era dominated with computer-generated trickery, this video doesn't have any edits or post-production special effects. Once the director said "OK, go," there was no stopping until the song was over.

It's a technique the band has mastered over the past eight years with their Grammy-winning video featuring treadmills, another with trained dogs and a video with just one edit featuring a complex "Rube Goldberg" machine. But "The Writing's on the Wall" took the "degree of difficulty" to a whole new level.

"We do a lot of videos in a single take because people are so used to anything being possible on film that, to get people to feel like they're actually part of this experience, you have to make it really evident that nothing, there's no post, there's no computer graphics, this actually happened," Kulash said.

In an era of high tech and big budgets, co-director Bob Partington said this video also broke the mold. CBS News caught him at an inventor's gathering in Washington, D.C.

"This was like taking stuff from Home Depot, like castors and cheap plywood, because it was really low budget. The band was paying for it," Partington said.

They planned on having two or three days to shoot the video but production delays left them with less than nine hours.

"So once we got going, we just ran it as many times as we could until about 4:30 in the morning," Kulash said.

"Just keep rolling! Keep rolling!" Nordwind said.

"We did 61 takes, and we got through it 18 times," Kulash said.

The final video is take thirty-something. They kept going until they were sure it was okay.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.