The Science Behind the Making of Ok-Go’s New Zero Gravity Music Video

There are a number of well known perks to being a rock star. One of the more obscure ones is sustained access to zero gravity, the condition of relative near weightlessness achievable in a state of free fall.

The band OK Go put their privilege to good use in the new video for their song “Upside Down & Inside Out.”

Access should not be equated with ease, however, as singer Damien Kulash and his sister, director and choreographer Trish Sie, explain above. The band’s website goes into further detail about the science of the shoot inside an industrial Russian military aircraft flying parabolic maneuvers:

The longest period of weightlessness that it is possible to achieve in these circumstances is about 27 seconds, and after each period of weightlessness, it takes about five minutes for the plane to recover and prepare for the next round. Because we wanted the video to be a single, uninterrupted routine, we shot continuously over the course of 8 consecutive weightless periods, which took about 45 minutes, total. We paused our actions, and the music, during the non-weightless periods, and then cut out these sections and smoothed over each transition with a morph.

The Russian flight crew collaborated with the non-Russian-speaking film crew and band on a mutually comprehensible countdown system that ensured everyone was ready to rumble each time the plane hit zero gravity.

Simulated overhead bins, bus seats, and dummy windows lit from with LEDs provided the illusion of a commercial flight.

The copious offscreen air sickness was not faked (58 regurgitations by Tim Nordwind’s reckoning.)

The finished product, right above, is the crowning achievement for a band long celebrated for tasking itself with one-take video challenges involving treadmills, Ikea furniture, and trained animals. (That’s director Sie in front of the camera with tango partner Moti Buchboot for “Skyscrapers.”)

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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