Was Honda’s OK Go Video Real? Absolutely. Here’s Why

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If you’ve been on the Internet this week, you’ve probably seen a lot of links about an incredible single-take music video featuring a band named OK Go. Courtesy of Honda’s UNI-CUB personal mobility vehicles, about 2,400 trained dancers, and an astonishingly mobile flying camera, everyone seems to love this video for “I Won’t Let You Down” because it’s so creative and free-spirited.

The question is…

Is it real? Head to a movie theater and it’s almost impossible to see anything without computer-generated effects. Watching OK Go’s video, the umbrella work at the end is happening so skillfully and with so many people that it’s hard to maintain a child-like sense of wonder. Is something so wonderful even possible?

For starters, yes.

First of all, OK Go has made a name for itself by creating amazing music videos all shot in one-take (which means the camera never cuts away). If anyone makes a mistake, the whole video is ruined, so the band has to do several exhausting takes in a row to get everything perfect. Somehow, OK Go’s videos have managed to top themselves every single time in imagination and creativity. Consider their previous video for “The Writing’s On The Wall”:

Here’s who they worked with this time around

To make this video, OK Go enlisted the help of Creative Director Morihiro Harano. Harano has created several jaw-dropping videos of his own before, which made him perfect to work with the larger-than-life band. For example, you might remember this Harano video where a single wooden ball travels a 44 meter wooden xylophone in the forests of Japan to perform Bach’s Cantata 147, ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

But weren’t the changes happening too fast at the end?

The band set up giant loudspeakers during filming to play the song at one half the regular speed. This had two effects:

  • It made it easier to synchronize quick changes
  • The video had to be played back at twice the speed, which gives it an unnaturally smooth quality

This took about 50 takes and followed a month of rehearsals including several weeks’ practice on Honda’s UNI-CUBs. As the giant blocks of colored umbrellas move into place, you can see some dancers rearrange themselves into position.

Plus, they used computers

OK Go typically uses something called pre-visualization software to walk through every frame of the video before they shoot it. This lets them run into a lot of problems in the computer world instead of in real life. The advantage is time saved that would have been encountered via trial-and-error. Thus, OK Go can keep their creativity and ideas fresh instead of mired in long production cycles, just like how Honda makes its vehicles.

That camera though

One of the spell-binding things about this video is the camera; if it really was shot in one take, how does the camera move like that? This particular camera is called an octocopter, which means it’s like a helicopter except with eight rotors instead of two. This allows it to act like a fixed camera, Steadicam or drone; it has the capabilities of three cameras (at least) in one.

Behind the scenes videos are coming

For the “Writing’s On The Wall” video, OK Go released 32 behind the scenes videos to show how they created various effects, so we can expect something similar this time around. That video has reached upwards of 11 million views since its mid-June release. “I Won’t Let You Down” so far has more than 7 million views and it was released on Monday.

Was Honda’s OK Go Video Real? Absolutely. Here’s Why was last modified: December 30th, 2014 by Leith Honda

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