Friday, May 05, 2006

Rube Goldberg Would Have Driven a Honda

My dad used to collect these incredible little books with catchy titles like Amazing Little Gadgets and Fantastic Machines and the like. I loved perusing them myself and always suspected that, had my father opted not to go into dentistry, he would have been immensely happy as an inventor. Family legend has it that my Uncle Charlie (my dad's brother) was so good at fixing things for his neighbors that he ended up hanging a sign outside his house saying, "Please take a number and wait".

It's no surprise, then, that my Dad was a huge fan of Rube Goldberg's delightfully silly inventions in the Saturday funnies:

Today, Mike sends me a link for a brilliant Honda Accord commercial based on a Rube Goldberg-type invention. As I watch this commercial, I can't help but think how my father would have been tickled pink to watch over and over and over again:

I can't believe which is more amazing to me—the fact that the creators of this ad designed an actual Rube Goldberg contraption... or that it really worked and that they successfully filmed it. Both are staggering achievements no matter how you slice it.

Check out this post I found about it:

There are no computer graphics or digital tricks in the film. Everything you see really happened in real time exactly as you see it. The film took 606 takes. On the first 605 takes, something, usually very minor, didn't work. They would then have to set the whole thing up again. The crew spent weeks shooting night and day. The film cost six million dollars and took three months to complete, including a full engineering the sequence. In addition, it's two minutes long so every time Honda airs the film on British television, they're shelling out enough dough to keep any one of us in clover for a lifetime. However, it is fast becoming the most downloaded advertisement in Internet history. Honda executives figure the ad will soon pay for itself simply in "free" viewings (Honda isn't paying a dime to have you watch this commercial!). When the ad was pitched to senior executives, they signed off on it immediately without any hesitation-including the costs. There are six and only six handmade Accords in the world. To the horror of Honda engineers, the filmmakers disassembled two of them to make the film. Everything you see in the film (aside from the walls, floor, ramp, and complete Honda Accord) are parts from those two cars. The voice-over is Garrison Keillor. When the ad was shown to Honda executives, they liked it and commented on how amazing computer graphics have gotten. They fell off their chairs when they found out it was for real. Oh! And about those funky windshield wipers. On the new Accords, the windshield wipers have water sensors and are designed to start doing their thing automatically as soon as they become wet. It looks a bit weird in the commercial. Just one-second of computer generation is used to link the two halves-when an exhaust pipe rolls across the floor. At one point, three tires roll uphill because they have been weighted inside with bolts and screws.
Posted by KymBuchanan at April 29, 2004 02:16 PM

What I love most about this ad is how it tries at every turn to highlight Honda's features. The windshield wipers having water sensors, for instance, is so very very cool. For some reason, I really like how the oil slows down those ballbearings...

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