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    Exclusive: Kevin Tong and Tom Whalen's Info•Rama Art Prints

    Artist Kevin Tong is one of my favorite movie poster designers. If you've watched the videos shot at our office, you may have noticed his Overview print mounted on our studio set wall, as well as his Avengers Iron Man print in my garage in Tested member videos. We've also shared his design process videos on Tested before, which are fascinating for anyone who appreciates Adobe Illustrator work. I've had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at various conventions like the Renegade Craft Fair and Comic-Con, and it was at this year's SDCC that he let me know about an infographics exhibit that he had recently been working on. Called Info•Rama, it's debuting this Saturday at the Phone Booth Gallery in Long Beach. The show is a collaboration with artist Tom Whalen, whose work you may have recognized as part of the recent Gallery 1988 Ghostbusters exhibit. (I bought his awesome Stay Puft 'Kaiju' print.) Kevin and Tom have designed a dozen prints for this show, covering a range of topics from spacesuits to dinosaurs to celebrated vehicles of the 20th century. And I'm delighted to be able to show you guys two of the prints here.

    The coolest thing for me about this show is that Tested was actually able to help with some of the information for one of Kevin's pieces. For the infographic on NASA's Extravehicular Mobility Unit, Kevin told me that he sourced some of his information from our video about the EMU shot at NASA JSC. Terry Dunn, who we interviewed in that video (and now is our RC columnist on Tested) also helped fact check an early proof of the print design.

    Check out our exclusive print reveals from both Kevin and Tom, below, as well as some in-production and close-up photos!

    Adam Savage's Alien Spacesuit Replica

    Before we went to Comic-Con, we visited Adam in his shop to get an up close look at his replica 'Kane' spacesuit from Alien. At this point, Adam was just about to complete the 10-year project of building the suit in anticipation for his Incognito walk at SDCC. Here, he describes each of the unique components he obsessed over fabricating in this dream project.

    Bits to Atoms: Building the Millenbaugh Motivator, Part 3

    Progress on the Millenbaugh Motivator marches on! All the measurements have been made and a rough version has been modeled and approved by Adam. This week we take a look at modeling the final version and speccing hardware.

    I decided to tackle the ‘valve arms’ first since I wasn’t sure how to build them. They look relatively simple but on closer inspection there’s multiple compound curves, plus the forked portion at the back and I couldn’t easily build them using my regular techniques. I ended up drawing them as 2D splines (curve described by interpreting points) on top of the reference photo--if you are comfortable using the pen tool in Illustrator or Photoshop, this is the same idea. I was able to give the spline thickness by extruding it and then used planes and simple shapes to cut out the rear fork and the front slope.

    The many steps to build an arm. (click to animate)

    Early on, it was tough picturing the size of some of the parts. When you’re constantly looking at blown up pictures for reference and working in 3D where things are floating in space, you start to picture things much bigger than they really are. Adam mentions this in our video when he was convinced the motivator was too small until he actually placed it on the glove. I did a test print on my MakerBot and it looked way too small, so I printed a 1:1 reference picture to easily compare parts and they were right on. I was even able to print the pivot and if a part was printable on the MakerBot (even if it was a little rough) it should print on the high-end printer without any problems.

    Building and Testing a Custom RC Airboat

    Sometimes you seek inspiration. Sometimes inspiration smacks you in the face. As I was walking down the clearance isle at Walmart, I was smacked in the face. They had a few kid’s kickboards on clearance. With my Mini Alligator Tours airboat experiences still fresh on the brain, I immediately thought that one of these kickboards could be the starting point of a scratchbuilt airboat.

    Sitting next to the Mini Alligator Tours, the wide stance and minimalist design of my DIY airboat is apparent.

    There were a few features of this kickboard that I particularly liked, in addition to its clearance price. First of all, it has a very wide stance. That would serve to prevent tipovers--hopefully. Another appealing aspect was its slippery plastic shell. I thought that would help it slide the water, as well as grass and other surfaces. The other kickboards that I saw had a nylon mesh-type covering. That’s probably great if you are actually using it as a kickboard, but not so great in airboat mode.

    The one thing that I did not like about the kickboard was its very pronounced curvature (as viewed from the side). Most airboats use flat-bottomed hulls. I figured I would give it a try anyway and see what happened.

    Keeping It Simple

    Early on, I decided that my focus with this project would be to make the simplest airboat that I possibly could. That proved to be a surprisingly elusive goal. I discarded numerous design sketches over the course of an afternoon before I felt that I had shaved my concept down to the bare essentials.

    Matchbox Car Factory, Circa 1962

    From British Pathe, a YouTube channel repository of 20th century archival footage, this awesome behind-the-scenes look at the design and production of matchbox cars. It's like the show How It's Made, circa the 60s (cheesy narration, music and all). A 1965 follow-up to the corporate film is just as delightful, and takes a different voice and look to reflect the swing of the decade. (h/t Paul Francis)

    Zoidberg Jesus at Comic-Con!

    We love going to Comic-Con, but have noticed that every year there are some picketers outside that take a little bit of the fun away from going to these fan events. We decided to bring the fun back by introducing them to our friend, Zoidberg Jesus.

    The Zoidberg Project, Part 12 (Finale and Recap!)

    Even though The Zoidberg Project has been wrapped up for a while now, it’s not over. I got sidetracked back in May with the Gore Magala build for Capcom's Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate display, and I still owe you all one more article!

    So let's back track a bit….back to early April. Leading up to the debut at WonderCon, I had a ton of finishing to do on the Zoidberg costume. The feet that Carson and I sculpted and molded needed to be cast up and painted. We opted for a simple latex and polyfoam casting. To make this cast, we brushed in about four or five good coats of latex into the mold, giving plenty of time for them to dry between layers. If you don't let the previous layer dry enough, you will end up with wet layers sandwiched between dry layers, which will make the skin too soft and prone to stretching out of shape.

    Since this mold for the feet are stone, I could have just filled it up with latex and let it set for an hour to form a "skin" around the outer edge, then dump the excess latex back out into the bucket and let it dry. But I felt that manually brushing in a few layers and drying them with a hair dryer between layers would be the fastest route. Once this layer of latex skin is set up, I mixed up a batch of Flex Foam 3 from Smooth-On and just rolled it on the surface until it started foaming up. I didn't need it to be a solid foam casting because I still need room for my food and ankle inside.

    This finishes the casting, which could then be demolded and trimmed up while the second foot was being done. I like to use an electric turkey cutter sometimes when I'm trimming foam, and it helps to hog out big sections quickly. Once I find the right fit for my foot, I used a little Barge glue to tack the latex down to the foam, as sometimes it can delaminate. That was it for the feet, but we all know that Zoidberg doesn't walk barefoot.

    Soviet Moon Colonization Dreams, Circa 1965

    Produced in 1965, this Soviet documentary was produced to educate citizens about Soviet rocket technology and what astronomers knew back then about the Moon. Its second half is a fantastic imagination of how humans might colonize the Moon in the distant future. Just great retrofuturist fodder, even if you can't understand the Russian. "The film consists of two parts: popular scientific and science-fiction. In the first part in the popular form the modern (1965) scientific convergence on the Moon are stated. In the second part the director and the artist create a picture of the future of the Moon." More context about the production of this video on The NewStatesman. (h/t io9)

    In Brief: How Glass Lenses are Made

    Adam shared this awesome photo gallery documenting every step an Optician takes to make corrective lenses to fit custom glasses. Every step is described in captions, showing the transformation from a hockey puck-sized lens to something that fits in the customer's glasses. My favorite tool used is the "edger" a machine that takes a scan of the glasses bezel shape and cuts the glass to fit into that specific frame. I love that the whole process takes less than an hour, and even as quickly as 35 minutes, according to the technician who posted the photos. (And here's an old How It's Made video showing the manufacturing process for lenses, from raw slabs of glass.)

    Norman
    How To Mold and Cast Resin Copies of 3D-Printed Figures

    We do a lot of 3D printing at Tested, but it's a time-consuming process best used for prototyping, not mass production. To replicate our 3D prints, we invited Frank Ippolito up to Adam's shop to teach us how to make simple rubber molds and cast awesome resin copies. It's really not difficult to get started! (This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Learn more about memberships here!)

    Real-Time Face Tracking and Projection Mapping

    This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. PICS, a Japanese video production company, experimented with face tracking and projection mapping to animate and transform the face of a model in real-time. The model's face was marked with tracking dots and painted in reflective make-up, which allowed a computer system to match an 3D animation with her head movements. From afar, the positional matching and low latency of the projection create a mesmerizing and surreal illusion. It's the kind of effect that I would love to see used in movies, shot in-camera instead of done in post with CGI.

    Adam Tour Diaries #7: A Whirlwind Weekend
    I got this shot heading into our first TV station. (Or was it radio? It’s all a blur.)

    We had a busy weekend prepping and performing our first three shows in Oz.

    We are in the lovely and awesomely foodie town of Melbourne, where the crowds are incredible. I’ve been furiously adding and modifying and refining bits of the show (an endless process, I’m afraid), and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that when I’m putting a ton of creative energy in one place, I don’t have much left for other places.

    But it’s been awesome. Like I said, the Aussie crowds are excellent.

    So what has gone on? Well, we arrived in Melbourne on Thursday night, and woke up bright and early Friday for a bunch of press. I love cities at dawn. When I first moved to Manhattan a lifetime ago, I became addicted to the city as the sun came up.

    Adam Tour Diaries #6: Whoops and Whew

    Thursday and Friday are all press days. Jamie and I did some TV, we did a crap-ton of radio, and then we did more of both. Taken around by the awesome Lucy and G, we found that everyone we dealt with was amazingly nice. I know I'm supposed to say that, but it's frigging true!

    People we run into continue to be very enthusiastic about MythBusters, and they have run from ages 7 to 70 (well, he looked 70). It's also great to be hearing so many versions of the Aussie accent. I'm getting a crash-course in speaking like a true native of "Straya.”

    This is a short post because I have a splitting headache, having just gotten back from the dentist. Get this: I bit into a mint yesterday (one of those awesome oversized Life-Saver mints) and it KNOCKED MY DAMN MOLAR FILLING OUT.

    So I’m off to the dentist today to get a new temporary filling.

    SDCC 2014: Sideshow Collectibles Booth Tour

    We stop by Sideshow Collectibles' booth at Comic-Con to check out their new Premium Format Figures, sixth-scale posable figures, and chat with their Creative Director about the company's approach to new product designs and their new original characters.

    Adam Tour Diaries #5: Graffiti and Graves

    Can it be diary #5 already? Going strong!

    Today we rode Sydney’s awesome public-transit trains. They’re clean, silent and comfortable, and they show you a city that, like my home city of San Francisco, offers a new experience around every corner. It’s not one city, but hundreds of different environments that just happen to be near each other.

    I love taking the train; it’s my FAVORITE way to travel. Seriously. I’ve even taken the train with Mrs. Donttrythis from Oakland to Chicago (with a stop in Aspen for some food and friends)! Sydney’s trains make me wish I could commute like this every day.

    These MythBusters fans missed their train to take this photo.

    Ran into these MythBusters fans. They actually missed their train to take this photo. Those backpacks? Apparently full of Red Bull. No kidding. They’re participating in a contest to make it completely across Oz using only the salty Kool-Aid-flavored drink as their currency. They were so sweet and gracious. I hope they win!

    Our destination today was the hipster center of Newtown. Having lived in NYC’s East Village during the ‘80s and now living in SF’s Mission District, I felt right at home among the antique shops, clothing and art stores, and the good food and piercings and neck tattoos.

    Thing2 chilling because we overshot our stop and had to go back. The maps were slightly confusing on first blush

    After lunch Thing1 went off to find a cool jacket with the budget I’d given him, and the rest of us wandered the back streets of Newtown. We came across many lovely sights.

    Also in Newton there’s an old cemetery in Newtown called Camperdown. Founded in 1848, it gave us some stunning opportunities for the photographs. A few are below.

    Filming The Light and Dark Side of The Godfather

    Gordon Willis, who passed away on May 18, 2014, will always be best known as the cinematographer of The Godfather films. At least one recent poll ranked The Godfather as Hollywood's top movie of all time, and it’s not surprising Coppola's epic crime drama is still revered after all this time. The incredible scope and power of the story still holds up, and it gave a generation of new actors like Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan their career breakthroughs. Not to mention it was one of Marlon Brando’s best roles, and the movie that revived his career.

    The Godfather also made cinema history by introducing a new style of cinematography.

    Before Willis shot The Godfather, movies were vastly overlit so they could be seen in the drive-ins and not disappear into the dark of the night. But Willis’ cinematography was a bold step forward, changing the look of movies forever. Because of The Godfather, studios actually had to make two sets of prints, a lighter one for drive-ins, and a darker one for theaters.

    It’s easy to take this for granted today because dark cinematography is an accepted norm, and with the latest digital cinema cameras you can shoot with almost no available light. But for the time, Willis’ approach was very groundbreaking, and many cinematographers followed his lead into the dark.

    Willis had shot several films before The Godfather, including Loving, which was directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), and The Landlord, which was directed by Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude). The Godfather was going to be filmed in New York, which meant that Coppola had to hire a cinematographer from the New York unions. Willis was recommended to Coppola by Matthew Robbins, a friend from the Bay Area who went on to write The Sugarland Express for Spielberg, as well as direct the fantasy Dragonslayer. (Robbins knew Kershner from USC, where the latter taught film.) Willis was also picked for the job because Coppola wanted a cinematographer that could capture a period look.

    In interviews, Willis made it clear there was no master plan to change cinema with his approach to the film.

    How To Make A Replica Hybrid Mercury IV Pressure Suit

    (Editor's note: One of Adam's favorite costumes is his Mercury program spacesuit, which we've previously featured here on Tested. It's one of the costumes he wore at this year's Comic-Con. Elizabeth Galeria of The Magic Wardrobe, who made the costume in collaboration with Adam, reached out to us to share the process of designing and patterning this suit to meet Adam's specific needs and requests. This is the first in a series of articles in which Elizabeth and her partner explain their fabrication process fort his project. Feel free to ask Elizabeth--Tested user "antylyz"--questions directly in the comments section below.)

    An accurate replica of any costume or prop is only as good as the source images and what budget a “detail enthusiast” is willing to spend to get what’s envisioned. When Adam approached me to make him a Mercury suit, his celebrity factored into my quote. I really wanted to do this project having been a fan of MythBusters for many years.

    Adam had no shortage of images to show me so quoting him was pretty easy. It’s not often you get 100+ high-res images of the actual suits from the Smithsonian so I was able to count stitches-per-inch as is often the case needed for detail enthusiasts.

    Adam was very specific that all he wanted was someone to do the “soft parts” and he would provide all the “hard parts,” which made the project easy. Adam was also very specific about what details he liked about the various iterations of suits used by NASA in the Mercury space program, and he focused on the following image in particular.

    The biggest challenge in almost any replica costume or prop is finding the same or similar fabrics and materials used to make the original. Adam was very specific in describing the fabric he thought the original suit was made of. It's something he has described in his videos about the suit.

    Adam Savage Incognito at Comic-Con 2014: Mercury Spacesuit

    For Adam's second Incognito walk through Comic-Con (which was actually done before the Alien spacesuit), Adam donned his Mercury program spacesuit replica and explored the convention hall. His use of a polarized helmet visor shielded his identity, but fans still managed to pick him out in the cosplay crowd!