The band OK Go has made a name for themselves with their catchy songs and visually stunning music videos. Fans have come to expect awe-inspiring stunts, intricate dance routines, and elaborate stop-motion animation. “We don’t view [music videos] as promotional materials for the ‘real’ thing, the song,” frontman Damian Kulash said to Time. “To us the song is the real thing when you’re listening to the song and the music video is the real thing when you’re watching the music video.” Their first commercial ever—a collaboration with Red Star Macalline (think IKEA of China)—was no exception.
In this exclusive behind-the-scenes video for KitSplit, the DP for this video Luke Geissbuhlerdiscusses how he and a crew of over 200 reinvented the laws of physics. In classic OK GO fashion, the video includes optical illusions and people walking on walls. It’s a fascinating watch for any cinematographers interested in shooting music videos and creating illusions. See how it all came to life in our 3 minute video:
WATCH: Behind the Scenes of an OK Go Video
Creating the impossible
The video was co-directed by OK Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash and their longtime collaborator Mary Fagot. The talented duo dreamed up optical illusions that were incredibly technically difficult—requiring the camera to land within two-inch accuracy in all dimensions.
Luke explains that the video, which was revisiting the song “I Won’t Let You Down” (remixed by the band’s drummer, Dan Konopka) took about a month and a half of prep, with one day of shooting. “So if we got it wrong, it would be very bad…that day had to go off well! We did a boatload of testing and pre-visualization.”
The video was shot in 6k on a RED Dragon, with the Canon 17-120 lens used for the “crush zoom” shot. The crew relied heavily on a Steadicam. To get the walking-on-walls effect, the team build a spinning hallway where two members of the band (Damian and Tim) navigated moving furniture and light fixtures as the walls around them spun. The camera had to spin at the same speed as the room so it appeared the band was defying gravity.
“The crew was gargantuan….and this was the hardest steadycam shot we’ve ever designed…it had to hit various spots within 2 inches. That wasn’t easy, so we had all these sort of lasers and little pins and things like that, and tape on the floor,” Luke explains. He adds, “the Stedicam operator, Alec Jernigan, did such a fantastic job. He came to China and practiced this thing for about two weeks….He asked what what happen if he got hurt and I was like, we considered getting an understudy for you but it didn’t really make sense. Don’t get hurt!”
Neither Alec nor Luke got hurt; the shoot went off without a hitch; and the video has almost 2 million views! If you haven’t seen the original video, or want to re-watch it after seeing the BTS, watch it here:
WATCH: Original Red Star Macalline Video
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Luke Geissbühler cinematographer and KitSplitter who has over 25 feature films and over 20 documentaries to his name—not to mention the many commercials and web videos. You can check out and rent Geissbühler’s camera gear on KitSplit!