Magnificent men and their flying (and rolling and riding and shooting) machine: How Red Bull made the world's most elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption
18:30 GMT, 13 December 2012
It's a perfect example of man and machine working in perfect harmony to achieve, well, not all that much actually.
But the way in which this elaborate chain reaction reaches its convoluted endgame is truly mesmerising.
As Brett Doar, from Synn Labs, the man behind the machine, said: 'It's an athlete-mediated chain reaction machine. A Rube Goldberg machine. Actually a bunch of little Rube Goldberg machines linked together by a bunch of athletes.'
Scroll down for video of the epic contraption
Off we go: Skydiver Sean MacCormac lands on a target then steps onto a plate that starts the five-minute chain reaction
Wheels up: Joey Brezinski and his skateboard are an integral part of the early stages of the process
He is referring to the American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg, whose name has become a byword for a deliberately over-engineered or overdone machine or device that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction.
In this instance Brett Doar has taken seemingly the entire contents of a sporting goods store, some top-level extreme sportsmen, an athlete, a golfer, some heavy machinery and mixed in a bit of gravity to great effect.
It even incorporates a drop tank from a WWII era Corsair fighter.
It was filmed over five acres of what used to be El Toro Marine Base, where the US Top Gear has been filmed.
The 'machine', which takes five-and-half minutes to run, starts and ends in the air – firstly with skydiver Sean MacCormac tumbling backwards out of a helicopter, while the video closes with snowboarder Pat Moore heading for the mountains in the aircraft.
In between, there are chainsaws chopping through wood, footballs fired from a cannon and electrical reactions sparked by a falling screwdriver.
Hole in one: The mechanism allows a golf ball to pop up at Rickie Fowler's feet, which he then strikes onto this green
On a roll: The ball then continues on its way to the next stage of the chain reaction
Dangerous: Some parts of the machine are more lethal than others, namely this chainsaw which goes through several blocks of wood to release a BMX bike for the next stage
Riding high: Extreme sportsmen such as Drew Bezanson and his BMX are the human parts to the smooth process
HUMAN PARTS OF THE ULTIMATE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE
Sean MacCormac Parachute
Joey Brezinski Skateboard
Rickie Fowler Golfer
Danny Macaskill BMX
Ryan Sheckler Skateboard
Drew Bezanson BMX
Bryce Menzies Driver
Rhys Millen Driver
Robbie Maddison Dirtbike
Lolo Jones Sprinter
Pat Moore Snowboard
These take place alongside some breath-taking stunts performed by BMX riders, sprinters, drivers and even Rickie Fowler, the Ryder Cup golfer. And look out for some spectacular leaps by dirtbike rider Robbie Maddison.
Doar told the Jalopnik website: 'I think the most dangerous thing was actually Robbie Maddison's jump(s), but he hit it every single time. I think he does that when he goes to the store to buy milk.'
As you might expect drom such a daring enterprise, Red Bull are involved. But they gave Doar and pals licence to do as they saw fit.
Their initial shopping trip saw them return withj a fishing pole, some barbells, various balls, a machete, fishing nets, an inflatable kiddie pool, rifle ammunition, airsoft pellets and paintballs, a couple of skateboards, a kid's archery set and exercise trampolines.
The guy at the counter told them: 'You guys are gonna have a weird weekend', remembers Doar.
In a spin: Rhys Millen drifts round a tight spiral before tagging in Robbie Maddison on his dirtbike
Rhys's car opens the barriers for Robbie Maddison to ride through
Ramping it up: Robbie Maddison performs the most dangerous part of the stunt
He admits that some initial ideas
don't get off the ground while others just came about from what was
lying around. 'You don't really know if it's going to work until you've
got it built,' he says. 'You can spend lots of time designing, and for
me at least, it all ends up being improvised at the end anyway.'
he says the weather also hampered the preparations, with the cold
mornings giving way to hot days, making some surfaces stick and parts of
the machine swell in the heat.
Bull themselves – for contractual reasons – made the decisions on the
sportsmen involved, which made for added frustration as some had to pull
out when filming didn't fit with their schedules.
said: 'That was really frustrating until I realised, “Oh, yeah, this
isn't the Justice League”, Danny Macaskill and Robbie Maddison are not
hanging out with Lolo Jones at Red Bull HQ playing pool and waiting for
red phone to ring.'
The creators were fully away of the dangers on set. Doar said: 'The day before the shoot, they brought an ambulance on set and a garbage truck was parked beside it, and we were joking about how those were your choices of how you left if you got injured.'
Fortunately no one did.
His company's skillset has seen them branded 'The League of Extraordinary Nerds' by Fast Company Magazine.
Their website describes them as 'a Los Angeles-based creative collective that fuses the worlds of technology and interactive sciences with artistic mediums to design and construct visually dynamic spectacles that inspire thought and provoke conversation'.
It is certainly an apt assessment of their latest project for Red Bull.
Flight of fancy: A rocket and the drop tank from a Second World War plane both have a role to play
Plane crazy: It is not just real airmen with a role to play
Lift off: The last shot is snowboarder Pat Moore heading for the hills
THE ORIGINAL RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE
Rube Goldberg's cartoons became known for depicting over-elaborate devices that performed simple tasks in convoluted ways.
One example is 'Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin' (above), which was later reprinted in the postcard book Rube Goldberg's Inventions.
The 'self-operating napkin' is activated when soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.
In 1931, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defined 'Rube Goldberg' as accomplishing something simple through complex means.
Watch Brett Doar's handiwork…
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