A Rube Goldberg Machine Reveals the Secret to Virtual Reality

You'll want to take notes.

by Beckett Mufson
Nov 6 2015, 4:00pm

Screencaps via

YouTube rolled out a 360-degree video in March, but the internet is still trying to catch up. Aside from the odd music video, most of the "immersive" content taking advantage of that platform is either experimental or unsubstantial. A new short from Peter Spence at Putty Studios called DO NOT Push The Red Button nails the emerging visual language of VR with a Pixar-esque Rube Goldberg Machine that packs a punch.

The video itself is cool. Spence and the Putty team put it together in MassFX physics simulator, so everything is bouncing and falling more or less as it would in real life. It was created in 3ds Max, rendered using the Redshift 3D render engine, and put together in After Effects for that big-budget animation sheen. The red, cylindrical protagonist is a good object of physical comedy, but the real treasure is how Spence uses the new medium to control the audience.

One of the most difficult things to do when we lose the flat rectangles of film is to tell people where to put their eyes. In film it's easy—just point the camera in that direction. Yet, when the camera is pointing in every direction, the content has to dictate where the eye moves. Masters of cinema already accomplish this within their frame, but within the VR orb the challenge is greater and more necessary.

Spence uses the Rube Goldberg Machine trope to guide the audience through a complete 360 degrees. It doesn't matter if they're spinning around in an office chair or bumping into stuff with their VR headsets, that's the magic of virtual reality.

See more of Putty Studios' work on their website.


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virtual reality
3D animation
360 degree video
DO NOT Push The Red Button
Peter Spence
putty studios
rube goldberg mashine