Make: now has a great interview online with the makers of this video. The machine does run all the way through, although it took them something like 70 (!) tries to get the whole thing to work. One of the impressive things to me, from a control geekery perspective, is that not only does this contraption have to work, but it has to be more or less in sync with the pre-recorded sound track:
enGreener: There seems like there is a lot of mechanisms in this machine that could throw off the timing by a fraction of a second here and there. Was this a problem when incorporating the elements that made noises to go along with the song?
DB: Timing was critical, as you can imagine. We spent a lot of time practicing and measuring things with stop watches. Mostly with a "Hot Wheels" stop watch that came with a toy set we bought. In reality we had to be within one percent or so. The video can be sped up or slowed down by as much without any visual artifacts. Although there are a couple of times where it's just barely noticeable.Brett Doar: There was really only one part where the audio dropped out and the machine played part of the song, and that was the guitar/glass thing (built and designed by Brady Spindel). But the band also had to be lip synching, so yes it was important to have the machine be synched up to the song. The audio playback was broken up into sections, to make sure that when we got to a certain point in the machine, the corresponding part of the song was playing, so that stuff could match up. Even without that though, especially on the top floor, parts of the machine had to be timed internally. One member of our team, Dick Whitney, built up some laser gates for timing (naturally housed in an altoids tin), but we realized that we could just go by feel. For instance, leading up to Brady's glasses, the little lego car was just rolling down that ramp too fast, and for some reason it was just too tricky to be messing around with slope. We used this sticky foam to make speed bumps and it was just like "I dunno play the song and see if it's going slow enough. still too fast add another bump". I think we were all expecting timing issues to be in the milli/micro second range, but it turned out that we didn't really need to deal with more than 1/2 - 1/4 second kinda concerns
Apparently there is one cut:
HA:We were initially unsure of what the selected take for the final video would be, since we managed to go all the way through in only 3 takes, but they all had "something" that made it less than ideal (crew members showing up on camera, TV not exploding, music going out of sync, etc). In the end the band decided to make a splice right there when the curtain opens in order to have a better video. We weren't involved in the post-production, so I'm unsure whether it's a merging from two different takes, or a single take with a second or two removed in that section to allow the song to sync back up.
All in all a great video!