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    Painting and Airbrushing The Zoidberg Project

    Just a few weeks before the unveiling of the finished Zoidberg Project costume, effects artist Frank Ippolito begins painting Zoidberg's foam latex mask to bring him to life. Watch as Frank explains his airbrush technique and how he approaches the painting process. Thanks to Iwata-Medea and Smooth-On for providing materials and sponsoring this project.

    What Evil Drove The Car?

    Last year, I had the privilege of visiting the North Hollywood shop of custom car builder George Barris. Barris created the ‘60’s Batmobile, the Munsters coach, the jalopy from the Beverly Hillbillies, and many other legendary vehicles. He also was very proud of the black Lincoln Continental he created for The Car.

    For many years, The Car was a long forgotten horror film from the ‘70’s that was roasted by the critics, and it quickly came and went in the theaters. But many fans like myself grew up enjoying it on television, and Guillermo Del Toro is known to drive a replica of the Lincoln from the film. When Del Toro produced last year’s Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, he even had The Car chasing down Millhouse in the opening couch gag (driven by Maggie, natch).

    John Landis saw The Car when it first came out in 1977, and in an episode of Trailers From Hell, he said, “This is a picture that is truly dumb, and I really enjoy it, but I enjoy it because I think it’s bad…I enjoyed it tremendously in the theater. Some people quite like it. It’s well photographed by Gerald Hirschfeld in Panavision.” (Hirschfeld was also the cinematographer for Young Frankenstein.) Ultimately Landis concluded, “The Car…dumb, but fun.”

    The seventies were a big time for rip-off films. There were tons of movies that ripped off The Exorcist, Jaws and Star Wars, and The Car was essentially Jaws on wheels. The eponymous sedan is all black, and it’s possessed by something evil because there’s no driver. James Brolin took on the Chief Brody role as a sheriff in New Mexico, looking like Burt Reynolds when he was at his sex symbol peak, and had to destroy the car before it claimed too many victims. Classic B-movie stuff.

    Screenwriter Michael Butler came up with the idea when Jaws was all the rage at America’s theaters. One day in his study he thought, Why not do a movie that treats and automobile the way Jaws treats a great white shark? Butler called his writing partner, Dennis Shryack, who loved the idea, but he had an ethical problem with it because he didn’t want to make a movie that showed people how to kill other human beings with their car. Butler and Shryack discussed their idea with their agent, and the moral quandary they had with the story. Then their agent gave them a great idea: “Why does there have to be a driver in the car?”

    Students Invent New Ketchup Cap to Solve Squirt Problem

    Looks like pretty good week for condiment innovation. "High school seniors Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson have spent a lot of time thinking about ketchup. As students in the Project Lead the Way program at North Liberty High School, Richards and Thompson have researched and developed a bottle cap that prevents that first squirt of ketchup from being a watery mess." (h/t LaughingSquid)

    WonderCon 2014: Todd Coyle's Costume Replicas

    Remember Adam's Gladiator armor that we saw at the Cave? It was made by Todd Coyle, a costume fabricator who has created stunning replicas of costumes and accessories from shows like Xena and movies like Indiana Jones. We met up with Todd at WonderCon to learn about his costume building process and to see some of his new work.

    The WonderCon 2014 Cosplay Gallery (580 Photos)

    This year’s Wondercon was another great convention. We met a ton of great makers, saw some incredible prototypes of collectible props in development, and even found some new comics to read. It’s also where we finally unveiled the completed Zoidberg project and costume—more of that in the coming days. But for now, here’s our annual gallery of the great costumes and makeups we saw in the exhibit hall. Hope you enjoy them, and post your favorites in the comments below! (Know who any of these people are? Email norman@tested.com with "Wondercon Cosplay" along with the photo number in the subject line and help me name all of these characters and cosplayers!)

    Jamie Hyneman's High-Pressure Air Gun

    We stop by Jamie's shop to learn about his newest tool: a high-pressure air gun that can fire less-than-lethal rubber shots for riot control. It's like a really powerful paintball gun. Jamie demonstrates the cannon's various settings, and then tests it with a different kind of ammunition.

    Papercraft Formula 1 Scale Model Builder

    This guy is my hero. Paul Bischof, a UK-based modelmaker and Formula 1 enthusiast, painstakingly builds 1/10th scale model race cars out of nothing more than cut and painted pieces of cereal boxes and biscuit wrappers. One of his scale models can be composed of over 6,000 pieces of paper, detailing everything from oil pumps in the engine to straps in the bucket seats (made from Christmas present ribbons). Bischof now works for Red Bull Racing, designing components for real Formula 1 cars. You can see more of his model work at his blog, as well as on his Facebook page.

    In Brief: Designing the Ultimate Toy Gun

    Ever wonder how the research and development divisions of massive toy companies operate? This FastCo Design profile of Mattel's new BOOMco line of toy guns details the three-year process Mattel researchers and prototypers journeyed to produce a product line to challenge Habro's Nerf (that design story told here by Wired). Mattel, known for its Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls, wants a share of the estimated $500 million toy blaster market (they already bought LEGO competitor Mega to fight in the building-block front). Their toy makers claim that BOOMco blasters were engineered to have six advantages over NERF, including darts that fly straighter and stick better. One innovation to improve the stickiness of its plastic dart tips--formulating not only a new material for the dart, but the targets as well.

    Norman
    Show and Tell: BioShock's Motorized Patriot (in LEGO!)

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm brings a new collectible figure produced by the toy company NECA. It's the Motorized Patriot, from the game BioShock Infinite, and a wonderful toy sculpt. Norm is also joined by Carl Merriam who has his own Motorized Patriot to share, in LEGO form!

    Almost Human: Trauma Mannequins for Medic Training

    They breathe and they bleed, but they're not real human beings. These robots, built by the especial effects and fabrication experts at Kernerworks, are incredibly lifelike trauma mannequins used by the military to train field medics. We visit Kernerworks' workshop to learn how these robots are built and get a demo of their trauma simulation capabilities. See photos from our visit here.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Car Basics and Monster Truckin'

    After a few months of lightly tapping, it’s finally time to pound the drum about RC cars. Of course, there are countless styles of cars that you can get into. For now, I will focus on the type of cars that I recommended for beginners in the first article of this series: 2-wheel-drive, electric-powered, monster trucks.

    Just like every other facet of RC, cars have benefited from recent advancements in radio, motor and battery technology. As I looked over my aging collection of well-used cars, I realized that none in my fleet reflected any of these modern advancements. So I took a two-pronged approach. I procured a new monster truck and I also modernized one of my older cars. Between this guide and a follow-up next week, I will cover my experiences with both projects.

    The Case for RC Cars

    I received my first RC car, a Kyosho Ultima, when I was in middle school. I really just wanted something to play with, but the Ultima turned out to be much more than a toy. Hobby-grade cars like the Ultima are meant to be worked on, and actually require some maintenance. As time went on, I found that I enjoyed wrenching on the car as much as driving it. It was also fascinating to make adjustments to the car and see how they affected its performance. That poor car endured countless modifications at my hand. Some ideas worked, but many didn’t. The Ultima always emerged relatively unscathed, and I got a little smarter each time. More than 25 years later, I still have most of the parts for that Ultima (in working order).

    If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers.

    If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers. Sure, they can teach you many lessons that carry over to full-size cars, but there is so much more. I learned about 2-stroke engines, electric motors, batteries, gearing, torque, and above all: the value of working with my hands. Countless times while working on space hardware in my professional career, I was able to apply a lesson learned from that Ultima. If, like me, you have a young tinkerer in your house, RC cars may be just the thing to let them explore relatively risk free.

    The Low-Budget Movie Gimmicks of Cinema Past

    With so many people watching movies at home with Blu-ray or through streaming services, Hollywood has been desperate to bring people back to theaters. This is why we’ve had the big 3D revival. With the success of films like Gravity, IMAX has also been a hot ticket. And overseas, 4D cinema has been very successful as well.

    4D is a cinema technology that can encompass many different experiences, and one that used to be most associated with the gimmick of Smell-O-Vision. In Asia, there are theaters that pump scents into the theater, providing the audience with the extra "dimension" of smell. There has been some effort to try and have theaters like this in the States, and Robert Rodriguez tried a similar version with scratch-and-sniff cards, unsuccessfully, for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. (Perhaps he shouldn’t have made a soiled diaper one of the scents.)

    As silly as this gimmick may sound, when you look back in cinema history, it was something that was attempted way back in 1960. In fact, there have been many gimmicks that tried to give audiences much more than a regular movie could provide, often with a much smaller budget and less resources than the major studios had to play with.

    As we’ve previously reported, the first 3D feature film, Bwana Devil, was an attempt to get people into theaters again, because a brand new technological innovation, television, was keeping a lot of people at home. In fact, the ads for Bwana Devil promised you would be seeing something “Newer than television!”

    And even in the case of 3D, it was a cheaper technology because it was trying to give audiences something spectacular that was much less expensive than Cinerama widescreen, which required major reworking of theaters to support. With other gimmicks that followed, a lot of filmmakers have tried to bring audiences into theaters for cut-rate prices, and many of these innovations are amusing to look back on today. Here are some of my favorites.

    The Zoidberg Project, Part 10: Mold Finishing and Foam Latex

    The primary mold for the Zoidberg sculpture is complete, but there are still a few things to do to make this mold functional for casting masks. The first thing I need to do is to drill the bolt holes and add T-nuts to the flange of the mold (the flat parts around the outside that connect the two halves together). Because of the rigidity of the flange, I don't need to put a gajillion bolts in it to keep the mold stable. I start by drilling in a few typical places: near the bottom at the end of the flange, in the middle (corner of the neck) and up at the top of the head (one on either side of the large registration key).

    When I'm placing my bolt holes, I need to pay attention to how close/far away from the sculpture they are. I like getting them as close to the sculpture as possible to keep the mold tight, but keeping in mind the outside of the mold--meaning that if I put the hole too close to the sculpture, I won't be able to get a bolt through the flange. This usually ends up being about an inch or inch and a half from the sculpture. Sometimes, my process leaves a bunch of extra land on the flange, but I like having that extra land for when I'm prying the molds open. If the flange is too short, you can barely get a pry bar or screwdriver in between them to get any leverage for prying. It's all about finding happy mediums.

    To make the mold easier to open and close, I love using T-Nuts. These are little nuts with a flat flange and teeth on them. This makes it so I can glass them onto the outside of the mold and then they won't spin. Since I don't have to fumble with the nuts when bolting and un-bolting the mold, I have the t-nuts permanently attached on the back side. To do this, first I brush a little wax onto the bolt (just to ease the removal) and tighten the T-nut onto it. I cut small squares of the glass cloth and mix up a small amount of freefrom air dough. By spreading the weave a tiny bit in the center of the square, I can push it over the T-nut and laminate it onto the flange with a little Epoxamite 102. Then I'll take a tiny bit of dough and put it around the T-nut and laminate one more square of glass to sandwich it all together. Once this is set up, I'll trim any glass that might be hanging over the edge, and back the bolts out and sand off any glass or resin that is still sticking up where the bolt used to be.

    Imogen Heap's Electronic Gesture Gloves

    Musician Imogen Heap demonstrates electronic gloves that she developed for interacting with her computer's music programs during live performances. The gloves, which she has now launched a Kickstarter to produce, have sensors placed over the knuckles so that Heap can gesture with arm, hand, and finger movements to cue up different sounds. The gloves have accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers for detecting orientation and hand postures. Heap has been working on the musical gloves with the University of Western England since 2011. Each single "Mi.Mu Glove" will cost £1200, via the Kickstarter, and you can read more about the project here.

    Inside Adam Savage's Cave: Gladiator Armor

    Adam geeks out over some new costume armor he just received: a movie-quality replica of Russell Crowe's costume from his final fight in the movie Gladiator. The convention-ready costume was fabricated by Todd Coyle, who also made Adam's Indiana Jones jacket that he's worn on Mythbusters.

    Bits to Atoms: Designing and 3D-Printing Tested Nametags

    Sometimes a project pops into your head and keeps popping up--on the subway, at work, during meetings, while making dinner, laying in bed trying sleep, etc., until you just have to do it in order to purge it. It occurred to me that the Tested logo would be perfect for a 3D print! With its simple geometric parts as well as the opportunity to demonstrate a variety of printing techniques, I couldn’t resist. I had made name badges before for my booth at Maker Faire and thought it was a good idea for the Tested logo--the guys need to represent!

    The first step was to simply sketch out how the logo would break down into parts for printing. Since the Tested logo is made up of simple shapes the break down and modeling were relatively simple.

    In the TARDIS article I mentioned using a backdrop picture to build on top of and Norm supplied me with some Tested logos files, not knowing what purposes they would be used for! A dimmed down version of the logo was used in the top view and the geometry was built right on top of it. Since mechanical precision wasn’t needed, a simple cube was stretched out and modified by eye to match up with each piece.

    The ‘Tested’ text could easily be built from scratch since it’s so blocky, but there’s an even easier option if you can find the actual font, which is free at one of my favorite sources, dafont. Most modeling programs will have a text tool that will allow the letters to be extruded into 3D models which saves a ton of time.

    In Brief: Download these Open Access Maps

    Late last week, the New York Public Library announced that its Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division was releasing over 20,000 cartographic works from its archives as high-resolution downloads. These historic maps are offered with no copyright restrictions, and the NYPL is distributing them under a Creative Commons Universal Public Domain Dedication. They are completely in the public domain. The collection of New York and Mid-Atlantic maps can be viewed on the NYPL's Digital Collections site. I also want to use this opportunity to call out another one of my favorite maps resources (I love cartographic art), the David Rumsey Map Collection. This collection includes maps of the San Francisco Bay Area currently on display at the SFO International Airport, Terminal 2, and are all available for download at very high resolution. There are so many wonderful finds in this database; it's easy to lose an afternoon just browsing. One recent favorite of mine: a photo of Bett's Portable Terrestrial Globe, circa 1852.

    Norman
    Star Wars Featurette: The Birth of the Lightsaber

    "Star Wars creator George Lucas, actor Mark Hamill, and sound designer Ben Burtt discuss the concept and creation of the lightsaber. George Lucas recalls that Star Wars was influenced by pirate and swashbuckling films of the '40s, which showcased the romantic side of fighting, illustrated in characters like Errol Flynn's Robin Hood. With Jedi, who were heroes in this tradition, the director needed a weapon that would match their ideals."

    Kevin Tong's "Wall-E" Poster Design Process

    Kevin Tong is an amazing artist who designs screenprinted posters for bands and movies, often collaborating with the Mondo Gallery in Austin. You may have recognized his work from our videos--he's the one who responsible for the ISS Cupula poster we have hanging in our studio set, as well as the Avengers Iron Man print I have in my garage. For the recent Mondo/Disney art show that premiered during SXSW (that we attended!), Kevin created two beautiful posters for Up and Wall-E. He documented the design of both of these posters in YouTube videos; you can find the one for his 'Up' poster here.