CMU School of Drama

Monday, April 03, 2017

11 Brilliant Rube Goldberg Machines

Cool Material: We normally like to keep things simple and do things the easy way, but we’re completely fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines. They require a level of skill and patience we doubt we’ll ever posses and they’re the ultimate expression of doing something just because you can, as the trademark of the machine is using complication to complete a simple task.

7 comments:

Katherine Sharpless said...

I'm not entirely sure why I watched all of these. I'm already living it. When I look up from my laptop, I can see in front of me the hot hell of building one of these things ourselves. I love this project, every hour I work on it I can tell how much I'm learning about materials, consistency, collaboration, communication, documentation and all those wonderful applicable things: but man is it hard. It's so wonderful to hear about the sophomores and juniors who were so proud and elated when their machines worked. But every now and then the fear of God that this won't work, whether by poor design, poor teamwork, or poor luck, runs through me. One summer many years ago when I was particularly bored I developed the hobby of making houses of cards. I got them to be 7 stories tall which isn't that bad for a 13 year old working from the kitchen table. I could see how, especially with the first machine in this video, how soothing and satisfying making a little machine around your bedroom one free afternoon could be, just like that house of cards. It's like the feeling of playing with legos or turning a potato into a battery. So satisfying when it works out. Until then, I have to pick some marbles up off of the floor.

Delaney Johnson said...

These videos both terrify me as well as light a fire within me to push forward and finish our own Freshman Rube project. I can admit that the Rube project up too this point has been a combination of the most terrible time I have had this year, as I witness something fail repeatedly, and the highest highs as I engineer something that actually works consistently. I think there is a part of these Rube videos that my portion of the Rube machine lacks so far: FUN. Every single machine in this article utilizes ridiculous behaviors, eclectic materials and physical comedy to create a machine that is not only unbelievable but also entertaining to watch. That entertainment video is so important to the Rube project, because what is the point of making a ridiculously easy task incredibly too difficult if it is not even fun to watch. So, after we secure the stability and consistency of our Rube's function, I hope to be able to incorporate a fun and playful aesthetic to the project just like these videos.

Annie Scheuermann said...

Other than for a school project or TV show, why do people go through all this effort? I really do think all the machines are cool, but it seems like a lot of work for little reward - and I know that is how the idea started, a simple action done in a complex way. I have to say that I am skeptical of the videos that cut to different parts of the machine. They may just of had a couple cameras set up to capture different moments, but it is much more entertaining and interesting to follow it with the camera and then the audience knows that editing parts together for a complete run didn't happen. I guess this is just one of the hobbies people have that they do for themselves and some make their way online. I wish the freshmen class luck, because I know we were testing our machine for many many hours until it finally worked, and I think we just got lucky that it finally worked. I wonder if this project is in any other school syllabus?

Kelly Simons said...

I’ve always loved Rube Goldberg Machines, probably since before I even knew what they were. I love seeing the thought and creativity and overall understanding of how every discreet piece works into the whole. After watching these videos, I think my favorite is the OK GO music video. At first I was leaning towards the Accord commercial, but it looked to clean, too synthetic. I did like that they used all car parts to make their machine, but it looks animated. I would not be surprised if it was. Animating a Rube Goldberg Machine is a thousand easier than making one in real life. In real life if something makes a mistake you have to redo everything. In an animation you can pause it, or animate a ball to roll just a bit father to hit a switch, no one would know the difference. I liked OK Go’s because of how genuine it feels.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

Whenever I see stuff like OK Go's music videos or Joseph Herscher's, I don't even know what to say. Rube Goldberg machines are pretty damn impressive already but when they're at that level, it's absolutely incredible. While actively going through the process of actually building one, I now know just how hard even the simplest steps can be. Also, the fact that some of these steps that are executed in their designs are permanent and can't be reset really makes you think about the true difficulty of their machines. At that point, there has to be some serious material sciences going on or maybe hiring a professional...or maybe just doing things over and over and over again. Granted, as in Honda's example, it's probably A LOT easier to do a digital rendering of a rube goldberg machine than to physically build one in real life but I give them credit nonetheless.

William N. Lowe said...

It is truly incredible what can happen with unlimited time and resources. I would be interested to see how many people worked on each of these Rube Goldberg machines, how long it took them, and how much they spent on it. I would then like to compare that to what we had and did and see what the differences are. Kevin talks about how constraint breeds creativity, so if there is no constraint, how had was it for them to build these huge machines? How long did it take and how much harder was it than what we had to do. I personally expected the construction to be much worse and did not feel as stressed about this as I thought I was going to be, and I am wondering what constraint put me into that position and if that constraint was removed, what would our class’s project have turned into. Let’s say, unlimited budget?

Ali Whyte said...

Hats off to these people. I cannot imagine the sheer amount of time it takes to build one of those things. It's been quite the process even with a, compared to these, simple 30ft long, 75 step, relatively small machine.I can only image the number of pianos, televisions, vases, and more that all of those people went through to create an actual working machine. I question a little bit why the Honda video made the cut, only because it seems to be digitally rendered and not physically built like the others. I have no doubt it took a lot to create that video, but there's certain things you can fudge in the digital world that the laws of physics simply will not allow. I was especially amazed by all of the little steps, and even more especially the science-y complex steps like boiling water to fill a sponge or creating a chemical reaction.

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