SkillCrane Machine Design

  • At iStrategyLabs, we were approached by Nickelodeon about making something really unique for their first annual SpongeBob SquarePants Fan Shellabration (a celebration of everything Spongebob, of course!). 
    We came up with this whole interactive experience, where a real skillcrane machine is controlled over the internet by thousands of fans, and then the real crane is shipped to Hollywood for fans to play it in person at the Shellabration.

    My role in the project was modelling the real-world machine, and concepting with the rest of the team. I'll walk through that process here, and the project is recapped in its entirety here on iStrategyLabs' blog—check it out, the process was so much fun!
  • We sketched a lot of concepts for the machine, including a giant 6 foot cube, and a round orb-like shape. But when we really thought about what we wanted to make, we came back to the episode of SpongeBob where the SkillCrane is introduced—bringing a cartoon object to life is such a fun experience, and the fans went crazy for the real life machine.
  • The shape ended up deviating from the design in the episode (mostly because of real-world considerations, like a really low, uncomfortable joystick height and a giant header area). Drawing from retro arcade games and exaggerating the lines of the machine, we had a shape ready to go. 
  • After mocking up the shape in Sketchup, we sent the model to a set design company to have the frame built.
    It arrived in our office ready to be vinyl wrapped, with real light bulbs for the title area, and 3D letters for the "Skill Crane".
  • After the plain white machine was assembled in our lab, Mike O'Brien drew the machine texture, drawing from the style of the machine in the TV show. It was printed on vinyl, wrapped onto the machine, and once we screwed in the light bulbs it was ready to go.
  • At the Shellabration, the machine was a huge hit. There were long lines the whole weekend, and it worked beautifully (thanks to our amazing engineering team!).
  • The team also made this brief recap video to explain the whole Nickelodeon project and process: