Ok Go is a rock band whose videos are phenomenally creative and a phenomenon on the web. They are famous for making intricate, amusing music videos done in one continuous take.


When OkGo told Roland Sonnenburg at the Talented Animals training company they wanted to make a video with dogs that was “magical and charming” AND they wanted to film it in one continuous take, they were told that sounded impossible.

“Working with animals we use cuts and optimal camera angles for everything. Without cuts, the animals would have to all work at the same time with their trainers far away, and we would need to get each dog and trainer and bandmember and crewmember to nail every single behavior all in the same take,”  according to Sonnenburg.

This is how they did it: 12 trainers, two furniture movers, 12 dogs, one goat, 38 buckets, a bunch of furniture, spreadsheets, flow-charts, and recorded audio instruction, four weeks, 124 takes and practice, practice, practice.

They rehearsed the routines with each dog practicing their own moves with their trainer. When things started looking good the band came in and got integrated with the dogs. They started practicing at half speed. The last four days they began filming. Around take 49 things started clicking. Around take 60 a new problem arose: the dogs were getting so good and enjoying it so much they starting doing it faster than the music. Finally they settled on take 72.

Thanks to Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo for this info and more.

OK Go – White Knuckles – Official Video from licked on Vimeo.


The video for this song showcases a Rube Goldberg machine with moving parts that take exactly the length of the 3.5 minute song to unfurl.   The machine rolls metal balls down tracks, swings sledgehammers, pours water, unfurls flags and drops a flock of umbrellas from the second story, all perfectly synchronized with the song.

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 the same moment as the 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.

“We wanted to make a video where we have essentially a giant machine that we dance with,” said the band’s Damian Kulash, Jr., in a short “making-of” video posted on YouTube.  Synn Labs, a Los Angeles-based arts and technology collective was hired to dream up the most outlandish and elaborate mechanism they could to “dance” along with the music.

It took about 55 – 60 people about a month and a half of very intense work.

This includes eight “core builders” who did the balk of the design and building and another 12 part-time builders.  Additionally Synn Labs recruited 30 or more people to help reset the machine after each trial run. Because of the machine’s size and complexity, even with all those people helping, it took close to an hour to re-set it.

It took more than 60 takes, over the course of two days, to get it right. Many of those takes lasted about 30 seconds,  getting no further than the spot in the video where the car tire rolls down a ramp.  “The most fiddly stuff, you always want to put that at the front, because you don’t want to be resetting the whole thing,”  says Adam Sadowsky  president of Syyn Labs.

Below is the music video, followed by a short video about making it.

Here’s a short video about making the Rube Goldberg machine.

If you want to see an interactive map of the floor plan in the Rube Goldberg machine, go here.


This video was choreographed and directed by Trish Sie, the sister of OkGo lead vocalist Damien Kulash.  It took a total of seventeen attempts to complete.  According to Kulash, “We were really lucky that my sister had this great idea to do this dance on treadmills and we had a week off so we could actually do the whole thing and it didn’t cost too much money.”  This video too was made in one continuous take and is the first that went viral.

To see more OkGo videos go here.

2 thoughts on “Ok Go: behind the clever, whimsical videos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *