OK, Go's Live Action Comic

By | Wednesday, March 10, 2010 1 comment
I've been watching OK, Go's latest video ad nauseum, in part because of the insane amount of cool engineering that went into it, but also because I've been enjoying the song and it's messages.

Obligatory video linkage, in case you haven't seen this yet...

But there's some interesting things going on in the video beyond just the "Oh, wow" factor. What's readily apparent is that there's more and larger destruction going on as the video progresses. The ball bearings give way to Legos. To a shopping cart. To a dining room set. To a raised platform with band members on it. To a car. To room full of trash cans. This, of course, follows the pattern of the music, which gets louder and more raucous in the last half of the song.


Every bit of it was engineered. It looks very chaotic, with the falling pails and ping pong balls, the paper airplane barrage, the flying mannequin, the avalanche of umbrellas and balloons... But it was, by necessity, very choreographed. Every element had to be in a specific place at a specific time, or the whole thing doesn't work. Keep in mind that it was NOT just one action leading to another, in a typical Rube Goldberg like fashion, but it was one action leading to another IN TIME WITH THE SONG.

The thinking that went into this is actually quite similar to creating a comic! Even moreso than an actual Rube Goldberg cartoon!

One action/sequence leads to the next, but it's the pacing of all the combined events that really help determine if the overall project is successful. If one sequence goes on too long, or not long enough, everything afterwards is a mis-fire.

Which, as long as you keep working at it, isn't a bad thing.

The guys in the video start it covered in paint. They'd run through their machine -- or at least good chunks of it -- several times before the version that's ultimately being presented. They had at least a few mis-fires, as evidenced by the destroyed piano sitting behind the falling one, the pile of smashed televisions, and the paint-splatter outlines of the band on the walls. It doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. I suspect that each time they ran through things, they learned a little more about the contraption that was just built. And once they got things "right", they passed that sequential art message on to us.

And, like all art, the message is subject to the interpreter. Some people will simply walk away with the song's lyrics ("Let it go, this too shall pass.") while others may come away with a notion of just how frickin' awesome physics can be. What about fans who know something of the legal battle OK, Go undertook to get this video online? There's the ideas of creativity, recycling, perseverance, teamwork... You can take storytelling ideas from the images, as I did.

There's certainly a lot to be said for studying how to create a comic book. You can study the works of Will Eisner and Jack Kirby, you can take courses on writing and drawing, you can be in touch with other creators and get tips from them...

But look at something like this, too. The song itself is pretty simple, not a whole lot in the way of lyrics or story. It's not particularly complex musically either. But there's still plenty to take away from it, if you just pay a little attention.
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DanielBT said...

This reminds me a lot of the Honda Cog commercial. I remember reading it took over 500 takes before they got it right.