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.”)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Notre Dame March­ing Band Per­forms “This Too Shall Pass”

Michel Gondry’s Finest Music Videos for Björk, Radio­head & More: The Last of the Music Video Gods

David Fincher’s Five Finest Music Videos: From Madon­na to Aero­smith

Derek Jar­man Cre­ates Pio­neer­ing Music Videos for The Smiths, Mar­i­anne Faith­full & the Pet Shop Boys

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

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