Every project Syyn Labs builds is unique. Our Rube Goldberg machines are no exception. We always endeavor to explore new ground, work with different materials and types of interactions, always setting new challenges for ourselves. Whether it’s building a machine outdoors, working with elite athletes, shooting lengthy machines in one-shot, or even working with exotic materials or animals, we always try to find new and exciting ways to tell stories that both excite the viewer and satisfy our client’s messaging requirements.
For this project, Blizzard wanted a very “science-y” theme to promote the latest expansion pack for their game Hearthstone and, because the Hearthstone is, in essence, a battlefield game, it made sense to us to include physical interactions that evoke “battle” elements from the game. Right from the start of the design process, it was clear we needed sparks, fire, rockets, and fireballs. To round out the use of these elements, we added in electric bolts from a Tesla coil, electromagnets, and 25-lbs. ice blocks – both as a kinetic object sliding down a slide, and as the frozen water it is; waiting to be released but the proper application of heat. Water, ice, fire, electricity, magnets, rockets… We certainly explored new and exciting Rube Goldberg territory!
But it wasn’t enough to simply string these elements together into a chain reaction. We wanted the machine to have the back-and-fourth feel as if the interactions were effectively player “turns” in the game and to fit into the shape of the Hearthstone board when viewed from above, allowing for a nicely circular finish.
In the end, the machine contained 63 physical interactions, including our three custom-built fireball canons, two electromagnets, our propane bubble maker, and an 1800-degree flame thrower.
From the moment we began testing and construction, it took a little over two weeks to build, including all of the set dressing and floor elements to compete the game board look and feel. Once we competed filming, the machine was completely disassembled, and the materials sent off to be recycled, within a mere two hours.
In the end, although we had five standing by, we didn’t even completely use one whole fire extinguisher.