It was shot using about 50 gopro cameras, as well as the ultimate arm, which was the same mercedes-mounted rig that was used to shoot the James Bond and Batman films, among others.
It was really gratifying to be able to work with such skilled people. At every level, we were working with some of the best people in their fields in the world, and I think it showcased the machine very well.
The El Toro Marine Base was at one point the largest lima bean field in the world.
Tom Jennings and I designed and built this calligraphy robot for director Chris Milk and Radical Media, as part of “The Wilderness Downtown”, an interactive music video for the band Arcade Fire. The machine uses a custom pen plotter to print postcards generated by viewers, and it is intended to travel with the band. Tom wrote the software and designed the electronics. More documentation of this machine can be found on Tom’sWorld Power Systems website.
Here’s a Rube Goldberg machine that I built for Syynlabs for the Disney XD channel. I built and designed about 90% of this (didn’t build the pneumatic cannons at the end, these were repurposed from the OK Go video. I did work out the wiring and the trigger mechanism. Also I didn’t do the part which knocked kick drum, which was done by Hector Alvarez). Jonah Kagan was an intern on this project, and spent a lot of time working out the trajectory of the softball launch, so he deserves a special nod.
I built this Rube Goldberg Machine for the Colbert Report, and set it off in front of a live audience to begin the show.
Some things that may not be clear: The book dominoes close a switch which activates the little music box toy piano. This plays out the opening notes of the Colbert Report theme song (which was, incidentally, written by Cheap Trick, but is arranged and performed here by OK Go).
The drum of the music box releases a weight that drops and releases a stuffed eagle that flies down a string, crashing into the pyramid of ice cream containers.
Viewers have assumed that somehow the ice cream pyramid triggers the little car- it doesn’t. The eagle continues and knocks over a hammer which closes a switch, activating the remote-controlled car (with custom paint job, naturally).
The car rolls along a kind of treadmill, that takes up fabric. The fabric then pulls a stick out from beneath a ramp, and the ramp drops.
A hot dog (originally a ball park frank, but the hot dog rolled unpredictably. Ultimately it was a thick dowel rod painted to look like a sausage) rolls down the ramp, landing in a bun, which is in a little red wagon. There’s a little catch that the hot dog triggers, to allow the wagon to roll down another ramp.
The hot dog wagon rolls down the ramp and through a life-size cutout of Ronald Reagan, who has just put an apple pie on a windowsill to cool. The hot dog passes through Ronald Reagan’s crotch, crashing into the pie, which falls off the window sill, tripping a lever.
The lever releases an Eagle paperweight which drops and causes a Jesus Christ Action Figure to rotate on a lazy susan to trip another lever, which drops a cage over a customized “Godless Killing Machine” teddy bear.
This releases Stephen Colbert’s Emmy Award Statuette, which is mounted on a hinge, and has a razor blade attached to the wingtip (the original plan was for the Emmy to be skewering a hot dog on the wing, and drop the hot dog in a bun, but as mentioned before, hot dogs are unpredictable).
The razor blade on the emmy wing pops a balloon, which releases a hammer. The hammer swings down, knocking a big “C” backwards.
The C rolls off the table, but just before doing so, snags a metal loop. The C drops off the table pulling the loop with it, and unfurls the “Colbert Report” banner, also triggering a cutout of Stephen Colbert to swing into view.
The machine was built in pieces in my studio in Irvine CA, and shipped to New York City. It was assembled there the night before the show. You are watching the second take (the first one that Mr. Colbert initiated).
Here’s a short “behind the scenes” video shot by Thoma Kikis while setting up the night before:
Also a special thanks to the crew of The Colbert Report, particularly prop master Brendan Hurley, supervising producer Tanya Bracco, and talent coordinator Emily Lazar and director Jim Hoskinson. There are also a number of crew members whose names I never quite got, but these were some of the most generous and supportive people I’ve ever met!
I was a primary engineer on this video. I worked out the majority of triggers on the upper level, as well as designed and built several of the individual modules, including the Sunrise, the flags, the typewriter mechanism, and the rolling ball/kabuki screen theater. I also contributed the “Make: magazine” race car that rolls down the ramp.
Posted: June 13th, 2008 | Author:admin | Filed under:artwork | Tags:robot | Comments Off
The bronco table is an autonomous robot, controlled by an arduino microcontroller. The legs are actuated by 12vdc automotive motors (I think they might be windshield wiper motors), and they are powered by a lead acid battery that has been recessed into the tabletop. Its primary sensor is a piezo-electric disc, the kind commonly used as buzzers or speakers. The piezo disc senses vibrations in the tabletop, and it’s essentially a “knock” sensor, so rather than sensing pressure or weight on the table, it “hears” you put something on it. This leads to a surprising variety of things to respond to- you can yell at it, it will respond to a particularly echoey floor, or you can scratch or tap the surface with your fingertip, as well as putting something on the surface.
Speed is controlled by a mercury switch. There are also magnetic reed switches which turn the LED’s on and off. Additionally there is a hand-cut ratchet at the top, which causes a hammer to strike the bell every third revolution.
The frame of this is galvanized “plumber’s tape”, wire hangers and paperclips. The skin is handsewn leather, with rooster feathers. When it was built, it walked forward, but for some reason, after the skin was fitted it only walked backwards. I’m not really sure why. Its eyes are made out of christmas tree lights.