rube goldberg car commercial

This is a neat (Flash) clip of some crazy gravity-contraption made out of car parts. Or at least I think it would be very cool, if it wasn't in a non-resizable postage stamp. As it is, I can't tell whether it was done with editing tricks or CGI, since I can barely see what's going on at all. It always baffles me why web "designers" go out of their way to make it so that you are forced to watch movies in postage stamps that can't be enlarged. Are they designing exclusively for WebTV or what?
Scene missing! A video that used to be embedded in this post has disappeared. If you know of a copy of this video that is still accessible, please mail me so that I can update the link.
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19 Responses:

  1. substitute says:

    I grabbed the flash file out of my cache and looked at it on its own, and it's much larger and easier to see when it's playing its movie without being strapped into the dumb little box.

    And you're right about that feature of web "design". It's like tiny little fonts and rollover popups, a piece of apparently permanent bad taste.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, I dug out the URL from Page Info, but their idiotic web server returns Content-Type: application/octet-stream instead of something useful, since all the world is MICROS~.

      It plays ok in gflashplayer, but without sound.

      Now that I've seen it zoomed in, I think they cheated on the physics of quite a few of those collisions (even if you assume everything was positioned perfectly.)

      I want to see the Making-Of!

  2. mactavish says:

    It looks like it's "real" -- not cgi or editing tricks. But it does look like the contraption had some invisible mechanical help. There's a point at which a muffler rolls horizontally, which it could do given a hard shove, but it rolls several times, and it just didn't get a hard enough whack to warrant that. There are other very clever bits, some of which are possible or even probable, but some must have required a little string or other help.

    • baconmonkey says:

      Muffler: it has a weight in it on one side, the side that was up higher.

    • nothings says:

      The most obviously "wrong" behavior to me is the tires rolling uphill--you can see them accelerate upwards.

      Anyway, I'd guess CGI. We can almost do people in CGI now; computers do a hugely better job rendering mechanical objects and simulating basic physics.

      But I don't have any evidence for this, other than the nature of the continuous camera movement tracking everything so perfectly and so smoothly. Not that a professional cameraman with the right dolly setup couldn't do it with a lot of practice, but now you've got so many things that have to go right in a single take (ignoring the editing possibility), and the tediousness involved in resetting everything seems much more expensive than just doing it in the computer. With modern CAD/CAM, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the data is already handy anyway. (Also, the room looks kind of obscenely long and perfect, but eh, could be a huge ballroom somewhere I guess.)

      • baconmonkey says:

        Tires uphill:
        that's easy.

        take a tire, insert a heavy weight on one side.
        Ballance the tire with that weight at the top.
        nudge the tire uphill, and the weight pulls the tire forward as it moves down. The tire will come to rest with it's geometric cener higher than before, but with it's center-of-mass lower than before.

        hell, take a large soup can a duct tape a roll of quarters in it and you'll get the same effect.

  3. gfish says:

    I looks a lot like The Way Things Go. That definitely predated CGI trickery of any realism, so I don't have trouble believing the commercial is real.

  4. exoskeleton says:

    This is based on a 1987 art film by Fischli and Weiss, a pair of Swiss artists, called 'The Way Things Go'. It's half an hour long and completely captivating. It was playing in RNM, a local resturant, while I was there with <lj user="silveryblu">, and neither of us said a word while it was on.

    Artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss buildeth and taketh away in this video of an artistic chaos extravaganza. During 30 full-color minutes, they create an enormous,precarious structure out of common household items, including teakettles, tires, and old shoes. Then, with fire, water, gravity, and chemistry, they start a spectacular chain reaction, a self-destructing performance piece that makes Rube Goldberg look rudimentary.

    There's a slightly higher res version here.

  5. crackmonkey says:

    Don't ask me where I found it, but I have the QT file behind it. Be gentle. I'll either throttle it tomorrow or remove it, as I'm sharing that link.

  6. flipzagging says:

    Thanks for the link! My guess is that it all happened for real, but not all in the same pass. With a motion-control camera they can redo parts over and over.

    You can right-click on a Flash doohickey to get a menu which allows you to zoom in. (might be ctrl-click on Mac OS, or something similar.)

    I don't understand what you mean about resizing. If you zoom in on a compressed movie, it just gets fuzzier. Maybe, like most hackers, you have a very high monitor resolution setting, so the absolute size is way too small?

    But (you ask) why place it inline in an HTML page? It's an ad. They only put that stuff on the web to draw you to the site and predispose you to click around. A secondary window would cover the rest of the site, and increase the chance the user will wander away.

  7. cetan says:

    For me at least, was starting to get very slow. However, the 300K ad has been mirrored here:

  8. gurlgenius says:

    I found your journal by clicking on someone's link on their "remake" of the honda commercial who had you to thank for showing the link to him. I'd have to say that's the one of the coolest commercials I've seen in awhile.
    By the way, someone mentioned wanting to see a "making of" the commercial. I found this link. Hope this is proof enough for some of you skeptics out there. =)

  9. ladxdvine says:

    awesome. :)

    oh...i think what baconmonkey said about the tires uphill is right...b/c while i was watching it...i could hear things dropping as the tires went up :)