Beyond RoboCop: Peacekeeping with Jamie Martin’s CRAB

Posted on July 15, 2013


In honor of the recently released film GRAVITY, I am re-posting my interview with Jamie Martin. Martin lent his talents to the crew as a 3D concept designer. “what’s that?” – read on and see!

Comic book superheroes were traditionally an advanced race of humanoid crime fighters who made futuristic cool. Now that we’re in the very same futuristic wonderland comics predicted, drawing and coloring are rarely done by hand any more. It only makes sense that the art of design itself had to change to keep up. Can we expect that our superheroes have evolved in much the same way as the art which created them? We say “yes” after checking out the work of Jamie Martin, 3D computer generated artist and designer. Jamie has satisfied our lust for super crime-fighters and high technology by designing a cop-bot which takes Robocop to a new level–sea level.

Jamie took a moment away from working on a movie set to discuss one of his inventions: The C.R.A.B. “I set out wanting to create something that could be a different take on a Police Robot, something like the ED-209 droid from Robocop (which was slow and lumbering…. and stupid).” The resulting creation is an intimidating, 12-foot-tall, crab-like, omnidirectional, armed-to-the-hilt police sentry which would scare the crap out of potential criminals and anyone who cares to consider the military implications of the design. Oh, and if this bot was real, it would seriously eff you up with its integrated arsenal! The C.R.A.B., or Cybernetic Remote Autonomous Barricade, was Jamie’s idea of “a sentry that could be used to guard places of importance or used during riots, etc.”

The C.R.A.B. has a series of tear-gas nozzles located on its underside for dispersing crowds. It also has coils of ammo by its “head” in case the crowd gets seriously out of hand. Let’s hope that never happens. Jamie’s 3D design work is so convincing that this reporter thought it was the real deal upon first look. However, a prototype has not been made and Jamie hopes it stays that way. Jamie’s C.R.A.B. is his modern answer to Robocop’s ED-209, but it wasn’t intended for any real-life application. The design was instead for use in virtual applications such as video games or films.

With game systems getting more and more realistic, and even using body-scanning technology for controller systems, this type of 3D design work may show up in our living rooms before it lands on our streets. But however harmlessly virutal Jamie’s design intentions were, there is still a corporate interest in bringing his designs to life. “I did have a weapons manufacturer contact me asking me to do the styling for their future weapons-systems, which I had to decline for ethical reasons (i.e., I don’t want to design something that could actually be used to kill people in the real world,” Jamie says. And for that we thank him for keeping the kill-bots and other weapons of e-struction firmly rooted in fiction.

It may seem contradictory that Jamie designs weapons never intended for human use, but it makes sense: Jamie is a movie and game fanatic, and as such he has always had an artistic interest in the methods behind their visual design. He also loves cars, and is a trained industrial/automotive designer. He seamlessly morphs his designs from 2D concepts through to highly detailed, photo-realistic 3D visuals. For those of you interested in seeing Jamie’s work first-hand, keep an eye out for Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Jamie describes it as a sci-fi thriller set in space which highlights Jamie’s talents with predominantly photo-realistic computer graphics while still utilizing live-action actors. Jamie works as a freelance designer and concept artist, and does work for auto and film. His 3D designs are often showcased via animated shorts, and his YouTube channel has recently reached over half a million views.

Jamie Martin has his vision of peacekeeping, but it looks like we will only be able to see it come to life on a screen… which may be for the best. After all, sometimes superheroes cross over to the dark side.

Kiped from the archives of the SyFy channel’s IdeaLab Blog for the TV show Eureka. Well kinda kiped, since I wrote it to begin with. Edited by Tiffany Lee Brown, without whom I’d be stuck in the land of curly quotes.

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