Thanks so much for LEGO product designer Carl Merriam for hanging out with us this week and building LEGO! His freeform builds will live on the Tested set for future videos. Follow along with us for next week's build by signing up for a Tested Premium Membership here!
Bipedal robots expend a lot of energy standing up and walking, but new humanoid architectures hope to be 20 to 30 times as efficient. We chat with robotics professor Aaron Ames about how his team at SRI International has designed a walking system that maximizes battery efficiency, allowing a robot to walk on a treadmill for hours while using less than 400 watts of power.
Editor's note: Bumping up this announcement as a reminder that our Comic-Con party is next Friday! Members can RSVP now!
We're thrilled to announce that we're throwing another party at this year's San Diego Comic-Con! Last year's Incognito party was a wonderful opportunity to meet Tested readers and showcase Adam's costumes in a celebration of cosplay. This year, the party is called Cinephile, a celebration of our love for film and cinema. If there are fifty movies in your top ten list of favorite films, this event is for you. The party is on Friday, July 10th, and will be held at the Fluxx nightclub on 4th in San Diego (very close to the convention center). We'll be bringing props, costumes, and projects from the cave to the party, as well as unveiling a few surprises!
Special guest Carl Merriam blows our mind with a spontaneous custom build using the LEGO Architecture set--we couldn't believe what he was able to build in today's episode. Follow along with us by signing up for a Tested Premium Membership here!
There are a ton of Android phones available for purchase, and new ones are coming out all the time. You don't want to get the wrong thing and regret it on a daily basis. What's a phone nerd to do? Well, let's try to figure that out.
This month is still a close call between the LG G4 and the Galaxy S6, but there are a few options beyond these two flagships for the discerning buyer.
Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 are available on all four major US carriers, so I'm breaking these two out for a direct comparison. After laying all this out, we'll figure out an alternative for each carrier, just in case neither of these is the right fit for you.
Samsung is using a new version of its Super AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge) and the company has reason to gloat a little. It's a stunningly beautiful screen. It gets very bright, very dim, the colors are good, and it's extremely crisp. It's really impossible to find fault with. Perhaps down the line it will develop some burn-in as AMOLEDs sometimes do, but Samsung has been working on that. It does consume a lot of power, but that's what you get with a 5-inch 1440p AMOLED.
LG has stuck with an LCD for the G4 as its AMOLED efforts are still lacking compared to Samsung. The only unique thing about this panel is the slight top to bottom curve it has. I don't know that there's any usability advantage here, but there you go. It's 5.5-inches and 1440p in resolution. LG has bumped up the brightness and colors compared to the LCD on the G3, which is a good thing.
NASA JPL's RoboSimian stood out at the DARPA Robotics Challenge as one of the few non-humanoid robot designs. The use of four versatile limbs allows it to adapt to the test scenario in ways that would be difficult for a bipedal robot. We chat with Katie Byl of the UC Santa Barbara Robotics Lab, whose team programmed RoboSimian, to learn about the advantages of a quadruped design and how RoboSimian may be utilized in complex environments like being underground or even in space!
Editor's note: This story by Cinefex's Graham Edwards is part of the 'VFX ABC' series exploring the lexicon of special effects. It's republished here with permission. In the VFX ABC, the letter "M" stands for "Matte Painting".
Take any film aficionado's top ten list of favorite movie tricks, and the chances are you'll find the venerable art of matte painting near the top. But what actually is matte painting, and what makes it so special?
To put it in a nutshell, a matte painting is a piece of artwork used to fill in part of a scene that can't otherwise be photographed. Take a cathedral interior, for example. Assuming you can't find a real cathedral to shoot in, do you really want to shell out half your precious budget on constructing that mile-high vaulted ceiling? Wouldn't you prefer to build your set up to a convenient height of, say, ten feet, then use a painting to patch in the rest?
Or, let's say you want to photograph Count Dracula's castle perched precipitously on top of a mountain. Are you prepared to ship a construction crew all the way out to the Bavarian Alps? Are you ready to face a mob of locals with torches and pitchforks protesting about how you're defacing the landscape? Doesn't it make more sense to photograph a suitably rugged portion of rocky terrain, then hire a skilled artist to paint in the vampire's looming lair?
In short, isn't the most straightforward solution to use a matte painting? Of course it is.
Unfortunately, matte painting isn't quite as simple as that…
On Medium, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has recently been posting transcripts of speeches given at its events, such as tributes to filmmakers from directors Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. The latest is a wonderful speech by Pixar's John Lasseter, given at "The New Audience" panel discussion in May. It's about his approach to storytelling, and the relationship filmmakers and audiences have with technology. Well worth the 10-minute read, or you can watch the video of Lasseter's talk, embedded below: