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    Tested Presents The Rancor Project!

    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.)

    Converting Avengers: Age of Ultron to Stereoscopic 3D

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 6/2/2015 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    When booking your tickets for the latest summer blockbuster, you'll probably be faced with a choice: 2D or 3D? With Avengers: Age of Ultron, the question is boiled down to its most visceral form. Is it enough just to see Hulk smash? Or do I want to see Hulk smash in stereo!

    According to the latest MPAA report, Theatrical Marketing Statistics, nine out of the top ten box office hits in US/Canada in 2014 boasted a 3D theatrical release. The same year saw the global proportion of 3D digital screens increase to 51% (70% in the Asia Pacific region). Pundits continue to debate the pros and cons of 3D, but as long as the major studios continue to pump out big stereo movies, the desire will remain to make the 3D experience as punchy as possible.

    Satisfying this desire on Avengers: Age of Ultron were two stereo conversion facilities: Prime Focus World and Stereo-D. In total, Prime Focus World converted 830 shots for the movie, with production running for three months, and the number of team members peaking at 613 across their London, Mumbai and Vancouver offices.

    Cinefex spoke to Richard Baker, senior stereo supervisor at Prime Focus World, about the state of the art in stereo conversion, and about the company's work on Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    So how about Hulk? He's a big guy – does that make him a natural subject for 3D?

    The issue of Hulk's size was an interesting one. We obviously wanted to use the stereo to emphasize his scale, and the natural tendency would have been to pump him up in the stereo conversion. But this actually has the opposite effect, and tends to minimize scale. To increase the feeling that Hulk is much bigger than the other characters, we actually flattened him off a little, slightly reducing his internal depth and ensuring that he was never too separated from the background.

    Star Trek USS Enterprise Scale Replica from QmX

    Star Trek's Federation flagship never looked this good back in 1966! We chat with John Eblan, head of QmX's FX Cinema Arts model shop, about this interpretation of the original USS Enterprise 1701. John explains the design and build of this beautiful scale model starship, including the electronics work and "Aztec" hull plating pattern.

    Original Star Trek, Blade Runner, and Rocketeer Props

    At every Comic-Con, we love stopping by the Prop Store booth because they bring out rare movies props, costumes, and miniatures from their vast collection, and let us get up close with them! This year, we examine original Star Trek costumes and filming miniatures, Blade Runner and Fifth Element props, and some production prototypes never before seen by fans. Leeloo Dallas' actual Multipass!

    Photo Gallery: Adam Incognito with Astronaut Chris Hadfield

    Here are some photos I took of Adam and Commander Chris Hadfield prepping for their Comic-Con incognito walk, roaming the convention show floor, and randomly bumping into "The Martian" author Andy Weir! You can actually see the exact moment when Andy realizes that the two 2001: A Space Odyssey astronauts must be Adam and Chris!

    Adam Savage Incognito at Comic-Con 2015 (with Astronaut Chris Hadfield!)

    Every year, Adam Savage walks the floor of Comic-Con incognito, hidden in plain sight. This year, he's mixing things up with a joint-incognito walk with special guest Astronaut Chris Hadfield! Appropriately, Adam and Commander Hadfield cosplay as 2001: A Space Odyssey astronauts, complete with working active water-cooling systems in their spacesuits. And on the show floor, they unexpectedly run into a mutual friend...

    Comic-Con 2015 Show Floor Walking Tour (Single Long Take)

    If you've never been to San Diego Comic-Con, it's difficult to get a sense of just how massive and packed the convention floor really is. Using a stabilized camera on a handheld gimbal, we give you our walking tour of comic-con, shot in a single 20-minute long take! We wade through the crowd to show you how the convention is laid out, step into a few of our favorite booths, and run into a few friends!

    Building Anovos' Star Wars Shadowtrooper Kit (Part 1)

    At Comic-Con 2015, we met up with Anovos, the makers of officially licensed Star Wars costumes and helmets. Among completed costumes, they're releasing a D-I-Y kit for Stormtrooper armor (which includes a finished helmet). We get our hands on an early test Shadowtrooper kit from Anovos, and walk through the process of cleaning up the vacu-formed pieces with effects artist Frank Ippolito!

    Tested Goes to Comic-Con 2015!

    We're down in San Diego all week for Comic-Con International! As the doors to the massive convention hall open on preview night, Norm and Will walk through the show floor to check out some of the major booth setups. Awesome collectibles, costumes, props, and LEGO are on display. We'll be filming interviews and project reveals, so stay tuned on Tested for more from SDCC!

    Frankenstein’s Spawn: Film's Love for Man-Made Monsters

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 6/30/2015 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    When Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was first published in 1818, few people could have predicted how deeply its central theme of "man creates monster, monster runs amok" would embed itself into popular culture…especially the movies.

    Whether it's James Whale's presentation of Frankenstein in 1931, or Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park in 1993, filmmakers have delighted in telling stories about scientists doggedly seeking that elusive "Eureka!" moment … only to be undone by their own misguided ambitions.

    In fact, the only thing filmmakers love more than reflecting on human hubris is reaching that part of the movie where they actually get to unleash the monsters!

    At Fox Studios Baja, in Mexico, "Deep Blue Sea" director Renny Harlin and special effects supervisor Walt Conti attend to one of the production's three full-size mechanical sharks.

    The familiar Frankenstein conceit is back on our screens this summer, as the dinosaurs ofJurassic World run riot through the lush landscapes of Isla Nublar. Thanks to the first three Jurassic films, we're already familiar with the idea of genetically engineered velociraptors, but when it comes to man-made monsters, prehistoric super-critters are just the tip of the iceberg.

    In Renny Harlin's Deep Blue Sea, the remote ocean base of Aquatica is home to three hyper-intelligent – and super-violent – mako sharks. The product of a botched attempt to cure Alzheimer's disease, this toothsome trio – a bubbly blend of both mechanical and digital sharks – chew their way through the majority of the film's cast before expiring in suitably explosive fashion.

    Building a District 9 Alien Rifle Replica, Part 3

    Over the course of this month, Punished Props' Bill Doran is building 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 will be paired with a surprise at SDCC. Place your questions for Bill in the comments below!

    In the previous part of this project, the molds we made were very simple. They were either one or two part box molds. The kinds you've seen Frank and Norm make in Tested videos. These types of molds made a lot of sense for the smaller pieces, but for the big body on the District 9 alien rifle, I decided to make a matrix mold.

    I have never made a matrix mold before, but I've seen so many of my mold maker friends adopt this technique for most of their big molding projects. There are many benefits to going this route vs a standard box mold. The most apparent upside is a drastic decrease in the amount of silicone used. Silicone isn't cheap and, especially with such a large mold, you're can save hundreds of dollars by going the matrix mold route.

    Diving into a new technique can be pretty scary, especially when it's such a large piece, but I didn't go into it alone. I had a ton of help from some of my mold maker friends. A huge thanks goes out to Thom from Sorenzo Props, Harrison from Volpin Props, and our friendly neighborhood Frank Ippolito!

    A Note on Print Coats

    For most of these molds, you'll see that I put down a "print coat" of Rebound 25 silicone before dumping in the Mold Star 15. It might be a little overkill, but I found that I was getting a bit of curing inhibition in the fine detail areas of other smaller molds using just the Mold Star. Not only did a brush on print coat of Rebound solve the problem, but it ensured that I captured all of the fine detail in the piece, perfectly and without trapping any bubbles.

    Kevin Tong's Info•Rama Art Print at SDCC

    Last year, we shared with you a really awesome art project by poster collector favorites Kevin Tong and Tom Whalen. Info•Rama was an art show featuring a collection of beautiful infographic posters, on topics ranging from dinosaurs to the NASA spacesuit. Pieces that would be the pride of any middleschool classroom, or avid print collector like myself. The project was so successful that the two artists, along with some friends, are extending the collection with new designs and pieces as part of an ongoing series. Kevin's latest contribution is a poster chronicling the Voyager 1 spacecraft's journey through the solar system and beyond. He shared with us an exclusive look at the piece--available this week at San Diego Comic-Con and online--and gave us some insight into his design process.

    Check out the full poster below, an animated breakdown of the screenprint layers, and more information about the Info•Rama series!

    Tokyo's Shibuya Station in Stop-Motion Papercraft

    I'm thoroughly charmed by this stop-motion short showing the famously busy Shibuya Station intersection in Tokyo. It was created using 1/100 cutouts from the Terada Mokei line of Architectural Model papercraft kits (of which I'm a huge fan). With 1,000 tiny scale characters created for this short, that's a lot of careful tweezer work!

    Tested Builds: Millennium Falcon Studio Scale Replica, Part 3

    Will and Norm continue their build of the DeAgostini Millennium Falcon kit, a 1:1 replica of the studio model used for The Empire Strikes Back. At this stage, we're still building out the cockpit of the model, and examine some of the greeblies that will get attached to the exterior. Thanks to everyone for following along for these past few weeks of build. If you're not a member and want to support us, please consider signing up for a Tested Premium Membership here! Everyone who signs up this month gets this year's limited-edition poster designed by Adam!

    Tested Mailbag: "What's Encom?"

    Woot! Time to open another mystery mailbag at the office. This week's reader package comes with some digital files that we can use to create tribute props to Tron--neat stuff. Thanks to Matt for sending us this package, and have a great Fourth of July holiday, everyone!

    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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