174. 10 Commandments to Making an Award-Winning Viral Music Video

15 takeaways from this talk:

00:00:41 Dubbed the kings of viral music, OK Go has a history of creating one-take music videos where they interact with machines. Music videos which have a tendency to go viral, such as:

(*Official views on Youtube as of 28 February 2016)

00:01:16 OK Go’s viral music video This too shall pass (2010) was the band dancing with a Rube Goldberg machine: “a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction.”

OK Go’s 10 Commandments to creating viral videos:

  1. No magic. Similar to the laws of product and website UI/UX interface design, everything in your video must be intuitive; easily understood by a typical viewer.
  2. Band integration. Contrary to modern use of technology, the machine interacts with and upon the band members, not the band members interacting upon the machine.
  3. Emotional consistency. As the mood in the music video changes, so to must the band’s interaction with the Rube Goldberg machine.
  4. Use all available space. The Rube Goldberg machine filled a 10,000 square foot, 2-story warehouse plus exterior loading dock in Los Angeles.
  5. Make it messy.
  6. Machine provokes the interaction. At 0:23 seconds a lever falls and pushes the play button on an iPod, thus beginning the music video.
  7. Music and machine beats synchronised.
  8. End precisely on time.
  9. At the end of the music video the music fades and the machine itself plays part of the song.
  10. One take.

00:03:47 The application of OK Go’s 10 commandments resulted in:

  • Months of filming and 85 takes to get that one, perfect video, of which only 3 takes successfully made it to the end of the video.
  • 89 distinct interactions between the machine and the band members
  • 2 pianos and 10 televisions were destroyed
  • +100 Home Depot runs
  • 14th Annual Webby Special Achievement Award
  • “Video of the Year” and “Best Rock Video” at the 3rd annual UK Music Video Awards

00:04:35 Lessons learned from filming This too shall pass:

  • When orchestrating millions of tiny pieces that must all work together for the success of a final project, it is the small, seemingly insignificant stuff that causes the most problems.
  • Project planning is imperative, and ideation, prototyping, troubleshooting, and testing is the best way to limit mistakes. But regardless the amount of planning and preparation, nothing is ever 100% foolproof.
  • Put your must consistently reliable steps at the end of the project, that way if things go wrong they can be corrected at the beginning without wastng too much time and money.
  • Be prepared for disagreement and opposition.
ok go viral music video

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