Pop quiz:  How many viral video creators are so good at what they do, and so popular, that every single video release garners widespread media attention and goes viral?  Answer:  I can only think of one, and it's the band OK Go.

Every time OK Go unveils another music video, it's a newsworthy event.  A quick Google News search for their latest music video, entitled "Last Leaf" and released only yesterday, reveals news sources as prominent as Wired Magazine, Time Magazine, cnet, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and more.   Their videos are more than just videos… they're events.

A large portion of the credit for this goes to the band itself, for consistently putting out edgy, clever, and enjoyable music videos—they're like the Pixar of online video, with an unblemished track record.  Beginning with their treadmill-based classic, on through the Rube Goldberg machine, the time-lapse in the park, and the dogs… every OK Go video goes viral.

Their latest is another bit of stop-motion animation—a series of "paintings" using lasers as paint and toast as the canvass.  Check it out:

The video is very well done, from concept to execution.  And as usual, it's clear they've spent a ton of time crafting this piece—and viral audiences love to see such dedication evident in the finished product.

Thinking Outside The Box - Creative Expression

But I think the key to their success—and the one main lesson we can learn from OK Go—is in how open they are to creative expression.  We all learned in school that true brainstorming sessions are open to every idea, that no suggestion is a bad one when throwing ideas at the wall.  But in adulthood, most of us don't practice that approach.  We're too quick to dismiss ideas.  Imagine the pitch meetings for OK Go videos:

  • "Hey, I've got an idea, how about we set up treadmills and incorporate them into a coordinated dance routine."
  • "Oh, here's one… let's get a few dozen dogs together, each with their own handler, and film a one-take circus-act video."
  • "I know, I know—we'll make drawings on hundreds of pieces of toast with a laser and then string them together in a time-consuming stop-motion movie!"
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On the surface, those suggestions are insane.  Not one of those ideas would be given any credence in the creative brainstorming meetings I've been a part of.  Instead, they'd be dismissed as too "out there.”  But maybe "out there" is exactly what viral video creators need to do more of.  If you want to go viral, you have to grab people's attention… it's vital.

Maybe the best lesson we can learn from OK Go has nothing to do with specific video styles or formats, but is more about attitude, openness, and boldness.  Maybe the best takeaway from their success is the resolve we might now have to give a little more time to the off-the-wall ideas thrown out at our next brainstorming session.

  • Some

    Reminds me of a piece by Frederic Back (Canadian animator) called 'All/Nothing'.

  • Christophor Rick

    and it's entirely possible that there's only like 20 pieces of toast and one great, extremely-well-done CG-animated overlay hehe:)

    • Jeremy Scott

      That would almost take more work and time than just using hundreds of pieces of toast. :)

      • Asma

        I was there... believe me, a CG overlay would have been *WAY* easier. I agree entirely with this article. I signed my soul away, so I can't really talk too much about the project, but the band was really open to new ideas and to discussing the details of the production.

        • Christophor Rick

          woo! right from the proverbial horse's mouth.... Now, if we could just get the band to email me for an interview... that would ROCK :D Hmm... maybe I need to do some digging.

  • Christophor Rick

    you totally didn't mention that their music ROCKS as well :D

    • Jeremy Scott

      Interesting. I've always been a much bigger fan of their videos than their music, though I certainly don't hate it.

      • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

        Im with Jeremy on that.... Actually, a few videos of theirs I could care
        less about as well. BUT - the masses have spoken, and my opinion is
        worthless :-)

        • Christophor Rick

          You Guys suck! Here it Goes Again is the best Rock Band song ever :) Jeremy just knows it as "treadmill video" hehe...actually it's the best song in almost every rhythm game