Recently, a three-minute video has been circulating online showing a young man doing the impossible. He disappears in the blink of an eye at the Oscars, floats high into the air with the help of Coca-Cola bottles, and jumps through closed doors on a moving train.
The video, posted to Facebook by the Turkish newspaper Mavi Kocaeli, has garnered over 93 million views and 1.7 million shares. But this is no ordinary video. It’s a compilation of Vine illusionist Zach King’s greatest hits.
The 23-year-old has hit viral gold through his awe-inspiring videos that defy the laws of physics. Starting off as a filmmaker on YouTube, King has now taken the six-second video app Vine by storm. He has 2.9 million followers and over 760 million loops on his incredible shorts.
“It’s a hundred takes to get that right one,” King told The Daily Beast about filming his videos. “A lot of people try to overcomplicate things, but it’s just straight cuts.”
While it looks like his videos employ lofty special effects programs to create the magic, King notes that he and his team don’t typically depend on software like Adobe After Effects. It’s more about finding the right place in the video footage to splice the change in motion wherever the change is. Essentially, they’re so meticulous about matching the video frames together that the editing and splicing is most of the work.
The Biola University graduate got his start in filmmaking at the age of 7 when his parents gave him an old Canon camera. He later upgraded, toying with various mini DVD cameras and teaching himself about the craft.
“I remember reading all the manuals over and over, learning what aperture and ISO meant and all the different buttons,” King says. “I was definitely using those buttons wrong until very recently.”
And when he was 16, King’s grandpa planned on getting him an old beater car. Instead, the ambitious teen asked for a Mac computer and got Final Cut to learn how to edit film. He learned the program via online tutorials.
While at Biola, King got a scholarship at the music school to study classical piano. He grew up playing the instrument three to five hours a day. But eventually he began enrolling in film classes, unable to shake his love for the camera. He wasn’t officially a film major until his last week at the university.
As for his team, it’s made up of two guys he met in film school along with two guys he knew from his past life as a musician. When creating his videos that border on the line of sorcery, the team starts off with brainstorming.
“I’ll bring up an idea or theme like, ‘Hey, guys, let’s work on a video about a childhood fear.’ That’s where we got those ideas like getting sucked up into a vacuum or cracking open an egg and there being a chick inside,” he says.
“It starts with brainstorming, honing in on the idea, and then my favorite part is how we’ll shoot it,” the video wizard says. “‘How are we going to pull this off?’ We’ll have to reshoot something, going back and setting up.”
His team is constantly creating videos, turning the house they live in into a studio. According to King, it has turned into a playhouse of sorts, keeping the creative juices flowing.
And their Vines have caught the attention of more than just the hordes of teens on the video-sharing platform. King made a couple of Vines with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who flew him up to Seattle. He recently did a partnership with Red Bull and is working with other brands to help conjure up dazzling videos. He has even appeared on The Ellen Show—and that’s when you know you’ve made it.
King and his sister, who helped film the Vines at the time, got to run around the Warner Bros. Studio lot with a show producer and shoot whatever they wanted.
The Vine magician’s videos are so popular that they’re often freebooted, the practice where someone takes online media and rehosts it on their website without permission. Videos posted on Facebook and Tumblr without his permission have garnered hundreds of millions of views.
“Sometimes we’ll reach out and ask them to credit and they usually do it,” he says. “I don’t mind it because it actually ended up helping us because my face is in the videos. I do feel bad for people that do awesome stuff and it gets ripped off.”
As for other famous Viners he’d love to work with? King would love to collaborate with “professional fatty” Brandon Bowen. Maybe they can work some hilarious magic out between the two of them.