on Mar 6, 2010
As soon as I saw this on Monday, I knew it was going to be the Saturday morning video for this week.
(For context: These are the same guys who did the treadmills video that was such a huge sensation a couple of years back.)
I’ve mentioned before that I hate DIAS videogames where you have to overcome a series of obstacles and any failure whatsoever means you have to do the entire thing again. And again. I don’t feel excitement when I’m playing. I feel a mounting sense of stress. I don’t feel exhilaration when I win. Just a grudging sense of relief.
I actually get that same panicky feeling when watching this video. Look at how complex and destructive this mess is. And how many places it could go wrong. This would take ages to reset. They made things even harder on themselves by integrating the timing of the song into the sequence, so that the gap in the song needs to line up with the glass-of-water “chimes”. Any alteration in speed before that point would ruin the take, even if the chain reaction wasn’t broken. And then you have the camera work: I still can’t figure out how the camera operator did his job. Look at how often he has to step over rails and tracks and possible debris. In some places – like the transition from the second floor to the ground floor – it’s not at all clear how a human being is doing this unless it’s someone who can fly. Or at least hover. So while this entire contraption is playing out, it’s pitted against whatever convolutions they’re going through to move the camera around smoothly.
They leave so much to chance. At the 3:15 mark, it would be easy for one of those little yellow balls to be in the way of the basketball, which would foil the entire take. And this is just seconds from the end! I would want to make sure the chancy stuff was at the beginning. I wouldn’t want anything doubtful going on in the later bits. Particularly after those destructive later steps.
As the video plays, I can’t help trying to calculate the odds of failure and multiplying that with the odds of failure from all previous steps and trying to deduce how long they spent in this Rube Goldberg purgatory. According to this article, it was 60 takes. The entire project took months.
How many TV’s were smashed? Did they patch the same piano up for every take, or did they have to get a new piano at some point? How long would a reset take if it failed near the end?
Much love to OK Go for bringing us so much entertainment.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.