The Story Behind OK Go's 'The One Moment' Music Video

Over a decade ago, OK Go first made waves in the music video scene with a synchronized treadmill routine to their single, "Here It Goes Again." The quirky and coordinated performance earned the band a Grammy in 2007 for Best Music Video, and since then, OK Go has continually managed to top themselves, with ever-more-intricate and jaw-dropping music videos, proving that they are the masters of the viral music video.

Now they're back with one of their most ambitious projects yet—a slow-motion music video for "The One Moment." Even when compared to their previous awesome videos, the mind-blowing masterpiece they've created for "The One Moment" doesn't disappoint. Let's take a look inside this amazing music video to see exactly how they did it.

The entire video uses only about 24 seconds of footage

As explained during the opening shot, the main sequence of the video consists of 4.2 seconds of high-speed camera footage. From the opening salt "flowers" to the exploding guitars, those 4.2 seconds make up the majority of the four-minute video, when slowed down. This is followed by lead singer Damian Kulash Jr. lip-synching for about 16 real-time seconds. As OK Go explain on their website, "we thought it was important to have a moment of human contact at this point in the song, so we returned to the realm of human experience."

Finally, the video returns to slow motion, with another three seconds of high-speed footage as Kulash's bandmates fly through fountains of splattering paint—which fans of the band will recognize as a trademark of their videos.

Faster than the eye can see

The "One Moment" video features a lot of action too fast for the human eye to discern, but when slowed down, it becomes obvious that many of the events were intricately timed to the music. Blooming salt "flowers," bursting buckets of paint, singing photo flip books, falling balls of color, a shattering aquarium, ballistic watermelons, popping water balloons, and exploding guitars are all timed to match specific notes or beats of the song. Altogether, the shoot required 325 events, all digitally synchronized and triggered to match exact points in the music.

And if you're wondering about those poor guitars: OK Go would also like to make it clear that no playable guitars were harmed during the making of "The One Moment"—all the guitars blown up were defects straight from the Fender factory.

How fast did they go, exactly?

The seven high-speed sequences are all played back at different speeds, depending on the type of motion being captured. In one of the fastest sequences, we see the exploding guitars at 6000 frames per second, roughly 200 times slower than real-life, while the bullets striking the watermelons were shown 150 times slower than reality. In both of these sections, the action was actually occurring faster than the speed of sound in real-life, so if you were chilling outside their studio and heard an unexpected sonic boom (as most sonic booms are, we would assume), that's why.

As for speeds not normally reserved for outer space, the lip-synching sections are played back at 90 frames per second, and we get a terrifying saw slicing through spray paint cans like butter at 60 frames per second, or roughly twice as slow as reality.

Even the robots couldn't keep up

While lead singer Kulash—who also directed the video—initially wanted that amazing slow-motion sequence filmed in one shot, apparently there are no robotic camera arms fast or agile enough to track all the shots they planned on using. So instead, the band had to film the high-speed parts in seven different sections, which were then edited together to create the final 4.2 seconds used for the majority of "The One Moment."

You know you're doing something right with your art when it pushes the boundaries of what's actually physically possible with modern technology. Plus, they definitely proved to Skynet that they its a long way to go before it can even think of a mechanical revolution.

It involved lots of practice

Perhaps even more impressive than the filming wizardry was the coordination displayed by the band. Bassist Tim Nordwind and keyboardist Andy Ross are lip-synching at 90 frames per second—which means they had to sing snatches of the song at three times the normal speed—and they had to do it perfectly while also flipping through photo flip-books of Kulash singing. Each sequence in the video is shown at a single speed, which means there was no cheating to "match" the lip synching up by ramping or adjusting the speed frame-by-frame.

Naturally, all this requires a ton of preparation, set-up, and practice. In addition to the practice that Nordwind and Ross did for their sections, the production crew involved over 100 crew members, two solid weeks of filming, and another five weeks of planning and editing before arriving at the incredible final product. Sorry, budding rock stars — there's no such thing as a 24-second work day.

It involved lots of math, too

How did they manage to synchronize each "event" so perfectly, even with the aid of computerized triggers? The answer is simple: a whole lot of math.

As Kulash explained to Mashable, "I have this spreadsheet that is massive that I was working on for a month, and sometimes I would look at it and it would not be numbers anymore, it was just squiggles. There were times that my brain just cracked." Kulash expounded on the problems involved during an interview with Rolling Stone, "Choreography just turns into math. Things have to be perfectly accurate two milliseconds apart and they have to be perfectly accurate two milliseconds apart after they've fallen from eight feet up in the air. So, you wind up with a lot, a lot, a lot of math." Even for the most savvy Excel users, a spreadsheet planning each frame and explosion of "The One Moment" down to the millisecond must sound like a complete nightmare. Thankfully, all of that intricate planning paid off in a big way.

Why go to all this trouble?

For several members of OK Go, creating amazing visual performance art to go along with their music has become an integral part of their process. It's obvious that their methods and filmmaking skills have grown by leaps and bounds since the simple treadmill days of "Here it Goes Again." As Kulash told Rolling Stone, "We're always trying to think of something that feels just on the other side of impossible to us...The line between possible and impossible is a hairline, and if we can get a tip of a finger over that line for just three minutes, awesome."

Their relentless pursuit of that line clearly paid off, especially in cases like when won the 2016 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in visual arts for their "Upside Down and Inside Out" music video, where they floated in zero-gravity like Major Toms who made it home. After "The One Moment," it's clear the band isn't done being rewarded any time soon.

Did we all just watch a four-minute salt commercial?

Well, yes and no. No, because every OK Go video is ultimately about the art, and they create them for the same reason people climb Mount Everest: because they can.

Yes, however, because OK Go did create the video to accompany a new ad campaign for Morton Salt, who helped finance the video's production. Morton's Walk Her Walk campaign focuses on getting people to help change the lives of others through our own "moments." Morton's even started the initiative, with five inspiring leaders who are making a difference in the areas of music education, the global water crisis, free art classes for youth, child nutrition, and mentorship and educational programs for adolescent female refugees.

What does this have to do with a rock band addicted to being more creative than a thousand art classes combined? Well, as the band so poignantly puts it, "Humans are not equipped to understand our own temporariness; It will never stop being deeply beautiful, deeply confusing, and deeply sad that our lives and our world are so fleeting. We have only these few moments. Luckily, among them there are a few that really matter, and it's our job to find them."

In short, so much can happen in a single moment, and any one moment can change a life forever. Morton Salt is embracing that idea, as is OK GO, and they hope you will too. After you've watched their video, mouth agape, for the hundredth time, that is.