Here's how OK Go made that zero-G music video

Science Friday

The band members took heavy anti-nausea medication, but many others on their 60-person production crew got motion sickness. 

OK Go and their crew shot the more than three-minute-long video for "Upside Down & Inside Out" while on a parabolic flight just outside Moscow, Russia.

It was a monumental logistic feat. The band worked with cosmonauts from Russia’s space program, a Russian airline, a large crew, and several aerialist acrobats.

Their parabolic flight — often called “the vomit comet” — gave the band and their crew thirty seconds of weightlessness during each flight. 

“We had I think 58 separate regurgitations,” says lead singer Damian Kulash says. 

The band is known for its geeked-out videos, featuring a NASA-built Rube Goldberg machine and lyrics played through optical illusions.

But the zero-G flight was "definitely the most adventurous thing I've ever done,” says bassist Tim Nordwind. “I think I can safely say it's the most adventurous thing the band has ever done.”

The idea for shooting a music video in zero gravity was born when Kulash began hearing about private space ventures in the mid-2000s.

“I remember thinking to myself, 'Someone's going to get to make art in space soon … I really want to do that,'" he says.

So they started chasing the idea and finally got to production. They shot one long take, falling back into gravity in intervals, and editing those shots out.

“We'd pause the music at that point and restart the music when zero-G came back," he says, "so that we basically did each section sequentially but with these long periods of waiting in between that we later pulled out."

The band used floating disco balls, piñatas, and popped paint balloons to illustrate their story. At the end, they pop paint balloons.

“And we just have paint everywhere,” Kulash says. “I mean liquids … are one of the things that really does the best job of describing zero-G. Because most things in zero-G actually look like they're just in slow motion … when you see us moving at a real speed and liquids actually hanging in the air around us, you really really get the [feeling that], 'Wow, this is something different.'”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI's Science Friday.