OK Go, meet Rube Goldberg for your latest video, 'This Too Shall Pass'

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OK Go are no strangers to innovative music videos done with a minimum, some might say shoestring, budget. And the band, formerly of Chicago but resettled in Los Angeles, has done it again, though this time the shoestring isn't just the budget, it might just a part of the shoot.

They tapped a group called Synn Labs to help build a Rube Goldberg machine, a device of overly complex mechanisms made to do relatively simple tasks, to not only provide a backdrop for the video or "This Too Shall Pass," off the new album "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky," but also to play part of the tune.

And the task was anything but a walk on the Treadmill:

When the rock band OK Go, famous for their viral videos including the spectacular and award winning "treadmills video", wanted to feature a 4-minute long Rube Goldberg Machine in an upcoming video, they tapped Syyn Labs to build it. The requirements were that it had to be interesting, not "overbuilt" or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow. The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on time over a 3.5 minute song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot. To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.

So, after several months of construction and planning, it all came down to less than 4 minutes of one-shot filming, some luck and a memorable premise to give OK Go another viral video effort. Amazing, there's even a blooper reel of sorts according to the band's Twitter stream, though how any mistakes could be squeezed into that production is a miracle.

And as for that treadmill video for "Here It Goes Again," there are two reasons you won't find it embedded on this post: A) If you haven't seen it yet, you're one of the three people left in the world with that distinction, so consider this an effort to preserve your unique status and B) Record companies are evil. But don't take our word for it - OK Go's Damian Kulash Jr. breaks it down nicely in this New York Times op/ed piece on the homemade delivery of their famous video onto then upstart YouTube and the ensuing scrum label EMI began over the unsanctioned posting of the work.

As the age of viral video dawned, "Here It Goes Again" was viewed millions, then tens of millions of times. It brought big crowds to our concerts on five continents, and by the time we returned to the studio, 700 shows, one Grammy and nearly three years later, EMI's ledger had a black number in our column. To the band, "Here It Goes Again" was a successful creative project. To the record company, it was a successful, completely free advertisement.

Now we've released a new album and a couple of new videos. But the fans and bloggers who helped spread "Here It Goes Again" across the Internet can no longer do what they did before, because our record company has blocked them from embedding our video on their sites. Believe it or not, in the four years since our treadmill dance got such attention, YouTube and EMI have actually made it harder to share our videos.

It went further. The original version of "This Too Shall Pass," shot with members of the Notre Dame marching band, also had embedding disabled by YouTube and EMU - you can see that effort here. The new video is embeddable only because a sponsorship deal was worked out with State Farm Insurance, reports Mashable.com.

UPDATE, MARCH 10: The creative tensions seem to have boiled over - OK Go has split ways with EMI, which released the following statement:

"OK Go, the band whose inventive internet campaigns and self-directed music videos have set records and won the band a GRAMMY® Award, and EMI Music's Capitol Records, the band's label since 2001, have agreed to part ways by mutual agreement. OK Go has formed their own independent label, Paracadute Recordings. They will take on all distribution and promotion functions for their latest album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, which was released in January. 'We'd like to thank the people at EMI Music who have worked so hard on our behalf,' said OK Go singer Damian Kulash. EMI Music said: 'We've really enjoyed our relationship with OK Go. They've always pushed creative boundaries and have broken new ground, particularly with their videos. We wish them the greatest success for the future.'"

But enough of sticking it to The Man. This is about the work. Enjoy the video - gloriously embedded here. And if you're so inclined, the boys will be back in Chicago for a show at the Metro on April 17 - and come ready to Tweet, pic and post.

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    This page contains a single entry by Craig Newman published on March 3, 2010 1:13 AM.

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