Latest StoriesArt
    Shop Tips: Respirators vs. Dust Masks

    This week, Frank explains the difference between a dust mask and a respirator, and shows us the proper way to put them on. It's a simple yet essential tip--safety never takes a vacation! Post your own shop tips in the comments below!

    Browning It Up With Doug Stewart - Episode 42 - 6/17/16
    We welcome SFX special costume designer Doug Stewart to this episode of Creaturegeek. We chat about adding brown to a costume and how to age a garment to look realistic. It's a fascinating discussion with another seasoned pro! If you are enjoying the show, head over to http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek and support us with a few bucks. We are short of our monthly goal that brings you an extra show every month. So head on over to our Patreon, pledge a few bucks and help us get to three or more shows per month. Thanks for listening!
    00:00:00 / 58:46
    The Graboid Puppets of Tremors 4

    When writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock came up with the original concept for Tremors they never dreamed they'd still be talking about Graboids fifteen years later. "Universal said that we'd never do another Tremors after the first one," recalled Wilson. "Then the video division pushed for Tremors 2. After that, we said, 'Okay, so now we're done.'"

    But fans couldn't get enough of Perfection, Nevada, and the tale of a small group of citizens banding together to fight an uncommon foe. Tremors 3 followed, and a successful television franchise emerged as well. Each time, Stampede Entertainment – with Wilson, Maddock and producer Nancy Roberts at the creative helm – rose to the challenge of reinventing the Graboid, the underground creature that was the story's reason for being. When talk ofTremors 4 began to surface, Wilson met with Universal executive Patti Jackson to discuss the project. "I told Patti that we were really in a corner," Wilson recalled. "The fans were going to want a new creature, but we had no idea where to go. We couldn't just keep doing the same movie over and over." Off-handedly, Wilson added, "We'd have to do something wacky this time, like set it in the Old West." To his surprise, Jackson's response was, "That's fine."

    Full-size mechanical puppet Graboids were built by KNB EFX Group for above-ground scenes, while shots of the creatures bursting from the earth were built and photographed in quarter scale by 4-Ward Productions.

    Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, directed by Wilson from a script by Scott Buck, was released early in 2004 as part of a direct-to-DVD package with the original Tremors. Set in 1889, the story follows Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross), the great-grandfather of survivalist Burt Gummer and owner of a silver mine that has been faced with a series of mysterious deaths among the miners. Joining forces with other townsfolk – ancestors of characters who populate 1989 Perfection – Hiram sets out to determine what is killing the miners, and faces the underground enemy for the first time.

    How To Create Custom Fasteners for RC Projects

    My time as an engineer in the aerospace business taught me that using the right fasteners can have a huge impact to the functionality and serviceability of an item. Sure, a common pan head machine screw will work to hold an access panel in place. But using a custom screw with an oversized Rosette head allows an astronaut in a spacesuit to quickly remove the panel without tools. I'm sure you can imagine what a tremendous advantage that is.

    I often find that specialized hardware can provide similar benefits with my RC projects. The main difference boils down to a question of availability. If the specialty fastener that I want is even manufactured, it is usually prohibitively expensive or is only sold in large quantities. Other times, I need a special fastener "right now". Ordering online or even driving to the hardware store just won't cut it. More often than not, I end up making my own specialty fasteners by modifying common nuts and bolts that I already have in my workshop.

    Making a thumb screw out of a Phillips head screw requires purposeful cutting of a plastic tab.

    In this article, I will illustrate my techniques for creating three different types of custom fasteners.

    Thumb Screws

    Whether I'm going on a week-long vacation or just an afternoon trip to the flying field, I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to packing. I take only the bare essentials and try not to weigh myself down with accoutrements to deal with "what if" scenarios. This probably means that I'll be among the first to succumb to a zombie apocalypse. Until that brain-eating day, I'll live happily unencumbered.

    Translating my streamlined packing approach to RC means that I aim to carry very few tools with me. If a specialty fastener lets me do a job without tools, then I'm game. That's why I often find myself turning normal screws into thumb screws. If you're not familiar with thumb screws, they are fasteners that are designed to be turned by hand rather than with tools. Thumbs screws are super-convenient as long as you don't have high torque requirements…which I almost never do for RC applications.

    Transforming a slotted screw into a thumb screw is often as easy as gluing a scrap piece of plastic into the slot.

    Converting a common slotted machine screw into a thumb screw is very easy. You just make an appropriately-sized tab out of scrap material and glue it into the slot of the screw. The tab becomes your grip for turning the screw. I have a sheet of 1/32"-thick Kydex plastic that I typically use to make tabs. I have also used craft sticks, thin plywood and scrap aluminum for the same job. You're bound to have something that will work. GOOP adhesive is great for gluing the tab to the slot.

    Making a Mad Max R/C Car Part 1: Building a Custom Body Shell

    I'm sure I'm not the only member of the Tested community who grew up with an R/C controller firmly planted in my hands. At one point or another, we had every manner of radio controlled vehicle under the sun on our workbench. It's been a good 20 years for me, but I figured it was high time I got back into the hobby and let me tell you, it's never been a better time to start playing with R/C vehicles!

    As a way to justify dumping money back into this hobby, I decided it would be fun to modify an R/C car to look like something that pulled off the Fury Road. That's right, I'll be making my little car look like something Max Rockatansky would be proud to drive through the wasteland. The victim for my little experiment is the LaTrax Teton 1/18 scale truck. As an entry level vehicle, this little fella is a really impressive beast!

    This build will be a multi-article adventure over the next couple of months, as there are many facets to the project. I'm starting with the body shell, since it'll be the platform on which the rest of the build is constructed. Most R/C car bodies are vacuum formed plastic shells that are perched on the chassis using pegs. I figured I'd build my new body in the same way.

    Tested at the Star Trek Beyond Fan Event

    Recently, Adam hosted Paramount's Star Trek fan event, which brought us up close with some of the costumes and props from the upcoming Star Trek Beyond film. Adam and Norm talk about the new costumes and what it's like to sit in the new Captain's Chair. Plus, a bonus interview with three of the cast!

    Photo Gallery: Creative Workspaces of the Tested.com Community

    In my 2016 Maker Faire talk, I mentioned wanting to visit someone's tiny bedroom desk shop because you can do the most amazing things in the smallest spaces. After that people started to send me photos of their tiny workshops on social media. I love it. Here are some of my favorites so far.

    Tested Tours Theo Jansen's Strandbeest Exhibit

    We tour the new Strandbeest at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco and get up close to Theo Jansen's magnificent creatures. We also chat with Theo about his evolutionary philosophy and build process, and what's next for the Strandbeest.

    Rebooting and Remaking It - Episode 41 - 6/10/16
    On this episode of CreatureGeek, Frank and I talk about a variety of topics first and foremost the argument to reboot and remake in Hollywood. We chat about the trend of making costumes cosplayable. And how editing can make or break a trailer. If you are enjoying the show, head over to http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek and support us with a few bucks. Thanks for listening!
    00:00:00 / 47:01
    My Shop When I Was 20

    This is me at 20, in my small studio on Carroll St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn, right off of Prospect Park. I was single for much of the time I lived here, and I remember getting a lot done. I learned about alginate about this time from a special effects company a friend was working for.

    I also learned that New York Central Art Supply sold plaster bandages in bulk. So I bought 20 pounds. I made castings with alginate and plaster all over the place. I cast my face, my ears, props I'd made. I remember pulling a lot of hair out getting myself out of my various molds.

    I was living there for free, illegally warehousing the place for the landlord, who was a collector of my father's paintings. I finally got kicked out over an incident involving an escaped snake, but I'd rather not discuss that.

    How to Paint a Latex Zombie Mask!

    Frank walks us through the painting of this great latex zombie mask made by his friend Tim Shea. There are many different ways to paint it, and Frank shows us how to use rubber cement paint to bring out the sculpture's details and layer on a fun color scheme. (This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Thanks to our members who've supported us. Learn more about memberships here.)

    Sweet Revenge: Kill Bill, Vol. 2's Special Effects

    It took more than 400 gallons of fake blood and hundreds of severed limb and decapitation gags to supply the grist for Quentin Tarantino's stylish revenge tale Kill Bill Vol. 1 and its sequel Kill Bill Vol. 2. KNB EFX Group, frequent contributors to Tarantino's films, accepted the grisly assignment with enthusiasm and delight.
    Though six months separated the releases of the original Kill Bill and its sequel, both movies were shot simultaneously – Tarantino having initially envisioned them as one before deciding, in the eleventh hour, to split the story into two parts. For KNB, that translated into a monumental effort, begun in June 2002 after just a few weeks of prep, when KNB supervisor and co-founder Howard Berger, along with Chris Nelson and Jake McKinnon, joined the production in Beijing, China.

    The five-week location shoot soon turned into fourteen, followed by six months of filming on soundstages in Los Angeles, during which time Berger found himself on set nearly every day. "We handled all of the gore and body chops in the first film, which involved hundreds and hundreds of gags – and none of them were digital," Berger recalled. "Quentin said: 'I don't want to do any computer animation stuff. I want it all to be live, in-camera.' That was a huge task for us. We'd walk on the set, and the stunt team, the actors and Quentin would run through the action for that morning. We'd watch it, and from that learn what we had to do. 'OK, this guy gets his arm cut off, these five guys get their legs cut off, and there's a decapitation.' Then we would have to chop-chop and put together whatever we could."

    Electromagnet technology, adapted by Berger, proved especially useful whenever the action called for limbs and heads to be severed during the bloody swordfights. Berger and his crew made fiberglass cup sections that attached to the actors. These held magnets that were hooked to a power source, with a battery and trigger switch. They then fashioned fake limbs containing metal pieces that would bond to the magnets when the electricity was turned on. When the crew killed the power, the limbs would fall off. "We did a lot of those gags," recalled Berger. "Everything was a magnet – legs, arms, head, torso. We even did some full standing bodies with electromagnets – we'd hit the button, and the thing would collapse realistically."

    Adam Savage Meets Theo Jansen's Strandbeest!

    Dutch artist Theo Jansen brings his Strandbeest creatures to San Francisco to walk along our coast! Adam has been fascinated by these giant PVC-constructed machines for a long time, and finally gets up close to meet one in person and chat with its creator. Watch how the Strandbeest strolls across the sand!