Latest Stories
CreatureGeek: New Vs. Old: Poltergeist
On this episode of CreatureGeek, Frank and Len introduce a new segment on the show that compares the new versions of movies to the old one. This time around, we discuss the remake of Poltergeist and how it stands up to the original. (Spoiler: it doesn't). We examine the differences between the two and also make the argument that 1982 was the best summer for movies EVER. Plus, Frank teases an upcoming giveaway! Thanks for listening and if you dig the show, let us know in the comments. Also, if you have an opinion on our opinions, let us know as well!
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Designing an Ultra-Efficient Walking Robot

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.

Join Us at 'Cinephile', Our Comic-Con 2015 Party!

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!

Admission is free and the party is open to everyone age 21+, but Tested Premium Members will get priority access as well as early entry. Existing members can RSVP for the party right now!

The Best Android Smartphone for Your Network (June 2015)

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.

The Galaxy S6 and LG G4

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.

Tested Meets RoboSimian, NASA JPL's Ape-Like Robot

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!

The Enduring Story of Matte Painting in Film

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…

In Brief: John Lasseter on the Role of Technology in Storytelling

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: