Time to start more weeks of builds! This week, we're joined by Jeremy Williams to assemble his new Porta-Pi DIY Arcade Cabinet Kit. the Porta-Pi is a desktop-sized arcade emulator that runs on either a Raspberry Pi or mini computer. Jeremy had built an earlier version, but the new model has a larger screen and more powerful computer inside. Let's get to building! (Follow along the rest of the week by joining the Tested Premium member community!)
At this year's Comic-Con, we unveiled The Rancor Project: a huge foam-fabricated costume built by effects artist Frank Ippolito. The project was inspired by a test suit made by LucasFilm for Return of the Jedi, which never made it to the film. To show you how the Rancor was created, we visit Frank's workshop and walk through the design process, starting with a maquette sculpture and patterning by foam fabricator Ben Bayouth. Using these techniques, you can build your own creature costume! (Thanks to Model-Space.com for sponsoring this project!)
Small is big. If you're in any doubt of that, check out Marvel's Ant-Man, the latest in a long line of movies in which ordinary human beings are reduced to the size of bugs.
In Ant-Man, con-artist Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) dons a special suit charged with sub-atomic particles, which causes him to shrink to near-microscopic proportions. Drastically diminished, Rudd faces the considerable challenges posed by an ordinary world magnified to extraordinary proportions. Good job the side-effects of the miniaturization process imbued him with super-strength.
You'll be able to read the complete story of the visual effects of Ant-Man in the next issue of Cinefex magazine, available to preorder now. To whet your appetite, this article includes exclusive insights from Jake Morrison, Ant-Man's visual effects supervisor, about the challenges involved in creating Marvel's latest – and littlest – screen hero.
Before hearing from Jake, however, we're going to take out our magnifying glasses and examine some of the other movies which have delighted in pitting pocket-sized heroes against teeny-tiny villains.
Adam's full Comic-Con 2015 panel, in which he's joined by a few special guests on stage. Over the course of the hour, Adam and friends talk about Mythbusters, science education, costuming, and take questions from the audience!
Woot! This week's reader mailbag is super cool, and a callback to one of our week of build projects from last year. Ben Jean from Montreal designs small-scale models made of laser-cut wood and liner board. His care package included unassembled kits as well as completed versions, one of which is inspired by the upcoming game Firewatch!
Over the past month, Punished Props' Bill Doran built a 1:1 scale replica of the alien assault rifle from District 9 to unveil with us at Comic-Con. Bill's build logs and videos will walk through his design and fabrication process, and his finished piece was unviled with a surprise at SDCC. Place your questions for Bill in the comments below! Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.
Here it is: the final part of the District 9 Gun Prop build! Fortunately, the molding process was fairly painless and yielded some very useful molds. When it comes to casting, having good molds can make or break a project, especially when you need 24 of something, as we did for this whacky alien gun.
Most of the pieces for the gun were done with simple dump molds. This means all I had to do was mix up some Smooth-Cast 300 resin, tint it with a little SO-Strong black, and pour it into the molds we made. The only fancy business we did was to tap the mold around a bit to make sure no bubbles were trapped.
This process was used for the top scope pieces, the barrel pieces, some of the side greeblies, and all 24 of the tubes that stick out the sides of the barrel length.
As promised, close-up photos of the custom cooling system used in Adam's 2001: A Space Odyssey Clavius Base spacesuits. We talked about how these worked in the most recent episode of Still Untitled!
After a week-long exhale from Comic-Con, we're back to a regular schedule and looking forward to upcoming events, product testing, and more projects! Here are some stories currently sitting my browser tabs that I thought were worth sharing. First, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced that he would be spending $100 million over the next ten years to amp out the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Steven Hawking's on board. I also enjoyed this NPR story about the research into the curious sound of screaming. Windows 10 comes out in a week, and Microsoft has released an invite-only beta of its Cortana app for Android--Arstechnica has tested it. Boingboing's exploration of vintage Star Wars clothing collecting strikes a chord. And the best custom LEGO build in recent memory may be David Szmandra's enormous RC construction crane. "Massive erection" indeed.1
This week, Norm shares a microcontroller system that's designed to run truly tiny electronics projects. Tinycircuits is an Arduino-compatible hardware platform with stackable expansion boards that allow you to make wearable lights, a simple smartwatch, or even a tiny arcade cabinet. It's really neat!
For his final cosplay incognito walk through this year's Comic-Con, Adam suits up as a Judge from the 2012 Dredd film. His helmet, tactical vest, Lawgiver pistol, and all the other pieces of the uniform are painstaking reproductions, weathered to look like they've seen some combat. Watch as Judge Savage meets up with a group of other Dredd cosplayers to patrol Comic-Con!
We stop by the Chronicle Collectibles booth at Comic-Con to check out their upcoming maquettes and prop replicas from franchises like Terminator and Ghostbusters. We learn about new molding and casting techniques that allow for them to easily scale their models, as well as get our hands on a prototype Syd Mead-designed concept blaster from Blade Runner!
We visit the Sideshow Collectibles booth at this year's Comic-Con to check out what new statues, figures, and other collectibles they have on display. Their Superman: Red Son figures stood out, as well as partner Hot Toys' ridiculous Star Wars vehicle prototypes. A full-sized Millennium Falcon cockpit for sixth-scale figures!
This April, an opera was performed in L.A. to the sixties movie Hercules in the Haunted World. Yes, you usually don't equate a sword and sandal flick with opera, but this was no mere gladiator movie, it was directed by legendary Italian director Mario Bava. Primarily known for the horror classics Black Sunday, Black Sabbath (where the heavy metal band took their name), and Planet of the Vampires, Bava also worked in many different genres, and his movies were never run of the mill.
Bava originally studied to be a painter, and fans of his work clearly noted his movies were a step above the usual grindhouse fare. These movies were the work of an artist, not a B-movie hack. Not to mention that Bava was a master at delivering clever special effects for practically nothing.
Bava's fans include Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, and Tim Burton, among other top filmmakers. In his native homeland, Bava was also respected by the Italian masters Fellini, Visconti, and De Sica.
As Scorsese once said in an interview, "I like Mario Bava's films very much. Hardly any story, just atmosphere with all that fog and ladies walking down corridors – a kind of Italian gothic. I would just put them on loops and have one going in one room in my house, one going on in another…creating a whole mood." (The Bava film Kill Baby Kill was a big influence on Scorsese, as well as Fellini, and both used Bava's metaphor of Satan appearing as young girl in The Last Temptation of Christ and Spirits of the Dead.)
At Comic-Con, io9 asked celebrities their opinions on a classic geek question: which would win in a battle, Star Trek's USS Enterprise or Star Wars' Millennium Falcon? On the red carpet for the EW party, Adam settles the debate with the most thoughtful answer, referencing the Next Generation episode "The Outrageous Okona" (coincidentally, the Star Trek episode featuring a Han Solo-like rogue). Lasers do call for a yellow alert!
Adam invites Alton Brown to join him on an Incognito walk through Comic-Con and check out the exhibit hall. For their disguises, the two choose to portray the Twins from The Matrix Reloaded, coordinating intentionally low-grade costumes to throw off fans. How long will it be before they're recognized?
Phiew, that sure was a Comic-Con. First of all, my apologies to everyone who's been waiting for a cosplay gallery this year. Between, hosting a party, three Adam Incognito walks, two new Tested projects (one of which we revealed today--The Rancor), and all of our other videos, I just didn't have the time on the floor last week to shoot enough photos for a proper gallery. Promise to make it up to you at Dragon*Con. But that doesn't mean I didn't take any photos. So in lieu of a full cosplay gallery, here's a selection of my photos showing you my SDCC 2015 experience. A mix of costumes, events, props, panels, and collectibles from Comic-Con, along with my commentary in the captions.
We're extremely excited to reveal our big creature project at San Diego Comic-Con: The Rancor! Effects artist Frank Ippolito designed and built this incredibly-detailed foam costume in less than a month, based on references from an original test costume used for the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi production team. In the coming weeks, we'll show you how this Rancor was built, and teach you some of the processes Frank and his team used to make a wearable foam creature costume! (Thanks to Model-Space.com for supporting this project. Check out the Millennium Falcon model kit here.)