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    Ryan Nagata's NASA Spacesuit Replicas

    Prop maker Ryan Nagata is obsessed with NASA spacesuits, and has made the best replicas Adam has seen. While at his workshop, Adam and Ryan geek out over the process of fabricating fake spacesuits, including fabric selection, sewing, building hardware, and weathering. Plus, Adam gets a surprise!

    Amazing Viewer Builds Inspired by Tested

    In a cool development I didn't expect, I'm seeing more and more people using Twitter and Facebook and other social media to share their builds inspired by what we're posting on Here are some of my favorites so far.

    Building a Studio Scale Death Star Laser Tower Model, Part 1

    Hello Tested! My name is Dave Goldberg. I've been a professional model maker working in the movie and television industry for more than thirty years. These days, most all of the visual effects shots that use to be done with models are done with computer graphics, but there is a movement of people, like myself, building Studio Scale replicas of classic models from old movies. Studio Scale is a term used to describe replica models that are the same size as the original filming models.

    Like many people, Star Wars: A New Hope was a seminal film for me. It came out during my freshman year in college and immediately changed the direction of my education and career. From that moment on I wanted to build models for the movies. While I built models for many movies and televisions shows over the years I never got the opportunity to work for a Star Wars film. But now I can do the next best thing, build them for fun!

    For this project I'll be making a studio scale replica of one of the Laser Towers from the Death Star seen during the final battle in the film. I am also excited to be making this an "Open Source" project. I'll be posting the model files for anyone to use freely for non-commercial purposes. They may be used to create your own model but not to create parts, kits or finished models for sale. The repository of model files is here.

    These files are for the model as I will be building it outlined in this series of articles using CNC routing, laser cutting, kit bashing, some 3D printing and good ol' fashioned scratch building. However, if desired, a competent 3D modeler should be able to convert the master model so that the entire Tower can be 3D printed, either at Studio Scale or smaller.

    Gloves that Translate Sign Language into Speech

    From the University of Washington: "Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi are the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT “Eat it!” Undergraduate Winners for their invention SignAloud, gloves that translate sign language into text and speech." The gloves have built-in sensors that record hand movements and positions to correspond to a neural-network trained database of ASL signs on a Bluetooth connected computer, which then produces the translation as text or speech. Update: A pragmatic critique of these gloves from an ASL interpreter and Linguistics professor.

    In Brief: The Woman Who Invented Cosplay

    I didn't know this story: Fashion site Racked has a wonderful feature about the the emergence of cosplay in the science fiction and fantasy community in the 1930s and the fanzine editor who was the first to don a costume for a convention (Worldcon, natch). Myrtle Douglas (aka Morojo) and Forrest Ackerman attended the 1936 Worldcon wearing homemade costumes inspired by H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi film Things to Come. The rest is pop culture history.

    Join Us at the Star Trek Fan Event on 5/20/16!

    In celebration of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, as well as the release of the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie, Paramount Pictures is hosting a special fan event on its studio lot for fans of the show and films. And we're going to be there! Adam is emceeing the festivities, which will include debuting the new trailer and exclusive footage, interviews with the director, cast, and crew, and some pretty awesome surprises we can't reveal just yet. Paramount's ticket giveaway has now ended, but we have some tickets to give away to Tested readers. Follow us and Adam on Twitter to learn more about what we'll be doing there!

    Members of the Tested Premium Community who are in the LA area and interested in going should also keep an eye out in their mailboxes in the coming days!

    Captain America: Civil War SPOILERCAST - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 5/10/16
    We kick off this summer movie season by reviewing Captain America: Civil War! As with all Spoilercasts, we start by discussing the movie without giving anything away, and then dive deep into what we thought about specific scenes and characters. Adam also talks about some recent show finales he's enjoyed, and why he loves dramatic comedies.
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    Highlights From Adam Savage's Reddit "Ask Me Anything About Making"

    In case you missed it, Adam is just back from a trip to Cleveland, where he toured some of the city's amazing maker spaces. Excited to talk about what he saw, Adam (aka "mistersavage") went on reddit for an AMAAM ("Ask Me Anything About Making"), answering maker- and maker-space-related questions for 90 minutes.

    We've gathered some of our favorite answers below; to read the full AMA, go here:

    ghostonbody: I often get anxiety and low confidence, and feel doubt about the things I make. If you ever get similar feelings, how do you overcome them, or keep making things in spite of them? What is your advice for someone who loves to be creative but feels self conscious about the things she makes?

    mistersavage: Oh my FSM all the freaking time. Dude (or dudette), just the day before yesterday we were shooting a one day build for, and nothing that I did in the shop seemed to go right. I kept screwing up. Remaking things and then boning THAT. I swear to you, I finished the day feeling like I had NO business making things. It sucked. I was blue. This happens. To EVERYONE. And it's OK. Like all emotions, good and bad, it's temporary.

    I did some good building yesterday and feel a little better. I plan to do more today. I know intellectually that my feeling like I'm an idiot at making is patently silly. That doesn't help in the moment, but in the long run my going easy on myself in that moment is what's important. I went home, had some tea, walked the dogs and talked to my wife and slowly things slid back to normal.

    "Live From MonsterPalooza Part 2: Shawn Nagle Loves Monkeys" - Episode 37 - 5/5/16
    In this, our second live episode from MonsterPalooza 2016, Frank and I chat with resin model kit sculptor, Shawn Nagle of Nagleworks. Shawn chats about his foray into the industry, his history with companies like Marvel, McFarlane Toys, NECA and Diamond. Frank also outs Shawns strange obsession with monkeys. If you are enjoying the show and you like more shows like this, head over to and support us with a few bucks. Enjoy the show! Thanks to MonsterPalooza for having us as guests.
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    Spread the Word! White House Is Seeking Nominees for Maker Movement Champions

    The White House is deeply committed to the maker movement. They will be honoring a number of White House Champions of Change for Making and the Maker Movement during the National Week of Making (which is June 17 to 23)!

    In their words:

    Help us identify champions who are expanding access to the tools, spaces, and mentors that help more students, entrepreneurs and adults connect to the Maker Movement.

    The nomination window is only open until May 18, so SPREAD THE WORD. Here's the link:! This is so cool!

    Maker Spaces: Adam Savage Tours Ryan Nagata's Workshop!

    In this new series, Adam Savage visits makers to learn about their work spaces and how they build. We first stop by the new shop of spacesuit replica builder Ryan Nagata. Ryan moved into this space after working out of a garage, and chats with Adam about how he organizes and utilizes his tools for costume and prop fabrication.

    Inside Mike Senna's BB-8 Replica Droid!

    BB-8 replicas continue to impress us! We meet up with droid builder Mike Senna to take a look under the hood of his newest BB-8 robot replica. Mike, who first made a fully animated BB-8 in time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, has now built a static model that is more practical for display and convention appearances. Here's how it works!

    Ellenshaw Under Glass: An Artist's Journey

    Like most aspects of visual effects, the art of movie matte painting has been transformed by technology, to the point that 'before digital' and 'after digital' techniques and end products seem only distantly related. Today, a matte painting can be a full environment – a three-dimensional collage of images and textures over, through and around which a camera, without film or lens, can be flown with total freedom. Not all that many years ago, a matte painting was … well, a painting.

    Matte paintings were among the earliest visual effects tools; and for decades, filmmakers used variations on the theme to affordably alter and expand movie settings, both interior and exterior. The era of traditional matte painting was comprehensively and elegantly chronicled in The Invisible Art, by Mark Cotta Vaz and Craig Barron, published in 2002, a must-have volume for anyone with a love for the art and history of visual effects.

    A companion volume now exists. Peter Ellenshaw, one of the Michelangelos of matte painting, has produced Ellenshaw Under Glass– a mammoth coffee-table book filled with photographs and artwork and recollections spanning the entirety of his 80-plus years. Ellenshaw suggests that his love of painting dates to his World War I childhood, when he and his sisters were hustled under a kitchen table, with paper and crayons to amuse themselves, whenever German zeppelins made bombing runs over London. Having taught himself to paint by copying the old masters, Ellenshaw eventually approached the only artist he knew of – pioneer matte painter and effects artist W. Percy Day.

    Ellenshaw spent seven years with the curmudgeonly master, learning the art and craft of visual effects on high-profile Korda productions, before setting off on his own. Eventually his work caught the eye of Walt Disney, who hired him to do matte paintings on his first live-action films, produced in England. The artist recalls creating 62 matte shots in 27 weeks for one of them. With no firm prospect of employment, Ellenshaw moved his family to the United States, where he soon made a career for himself within the Disney organization, working closely with the studio's gruff patriarch, who took an almost fatherly interest in the ambitious young artist.

    Phil Tippett Launches Hologrid Augmented Reality Game

    Ok, this is super cool. Phil Tippett just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his version of Holochess, the fictional game he created in stop-motion for Star Wars. It's called HoloGrid, and is an augmented reality collectible card game played with tablets and a boxed set of cards, with creatures designed by Tippett (including some sculpted for Mad God) and scanned with photogrammetry. I just backed it, and hope that it'll reach its stretch goal of getting a HoloLens and Magic Leap release!

    The Work of Special Effects Studio ADI

    From CNN's Great Big Story youtube channel, a visit to special effects studio ADI: "Meet Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis—they've been making movie monsters for Hollywood movies for the last 35 years at their company, Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. But you won't find any computer-generated effects at this studio. Tom and Alec design and create REAL creatures with their own two hands—and they also perform them." Find more behind-the-scenes videos of ADI's creature and animatronics work on their YouTube channel!

    In Brief: Submerged City Miniature Diorama Project

    In a recent visit to the Kinokuniya bookstore in San Francisco's Japantown district, I saw this miniature city toy set, a 1/2500 representation of downtown Tokyo. The model consists of eight pieces that you buy individually to assemble into a cityscape--kind of like Sim City in miniature toy form. It looked nice, but was also pretty expensive ($20 a block, if I recall correctly). But I just picked up the full set on Amazon after finding this awesome modification made by japanese modelmaker Masaki. He's taken these miniatures and repainted them into dystopian dioramas. Check out that submerged metropolis!

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    Building Fallout 4 T-60 Power Armor, Part 3

    For the parts of the Fallout 4 power armor we aren't 3D printing, we'll be creating them with the CNC router. A CNC router is effectively a 3D printer in reverse; instead of an empty build platform that material gets deposited onto, with a CNC router you start out with a large piece of material stock and the router cuts away everything to make the relief of your part. The CNC is a tool that's new to me and one I wanted to really fully utilize on this build. Full disclosure, I am admittedly taking a lot of lessons from I've followed builds from Shawn Thorsson who does a lot of CNC routing for his large scale costumes and props.

    The digital workflow is similar to 3D printing, but still something I am working on really getting solid. You still need to split your model up into sections that will fit within your stock - in my case, sheets of 2" polystyrene insulation board found at the local big box hardware store - while being mindful of any undercuts or concave sections. As I only have a 3-axis CNC, if a part has any concave sections, those areas will not get cut away and my CNC routed part will not come out correctly. For example, this forearm part was cut into several sections, but the gentle concave slope along the back wasn't able to be removed, leaving me with these "steps" that I would have to manually trim or sand away.

    The CNC software I am using is MeshCam which is simple and very effective. MeshCam is used to generate Gcode for the CNC, the same way Cura or Simplify3D creates Gcode for your 3D printer. My only complaint about it is that it doesn't visualize the undercuts so I can't know what parts won't be fabricated correctly. Its built in slicing tools leave a lot to be desired, so I have been using Netfabb to create my 2" slices off of the main model and arranging them so that several slices will be cut at a time. This is still cumbersome and time consuming so eventually I'll be looking for a better toolchain for this step. After I run my slice through MeshCam and send the Gcode to the CNC router for each cutting job, the forearm is ready to assemble and sculpt.

    I used some medium duty spray adhesive to attach the parts together, clamped them together and let the whole thing sit for a couple of hours before moving on to sealing. The polystyrene board I am using is very soft and easy to damage and I wanted to coat it in something rigid so that I can more easily sculpt on it and to make it nice and smooth. It also reacts poorly to just about everything you might normally do this with, including most spray paints, so I need to coat the part in a sealant.. After giving everything a quick sand with some high grit sandpaper to get rid of any remaining CNC artifacts, I coated everything in a couple coats of wood glue. This would not only provide a surface that is non-reactive to the fiberglass and bondo I would be coating it with, but it also gives the part a lot more strength against bumps and scratches.

    Ironhead Studio's Incredible Movie Costumes

    This is a rare treat: we get up close with the helmets and armor made by Ironhead Studio for films like Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and Tron: Legacy. Ironhead Studio founder Jose Fernandez, who has been designing and making film costumes for decades, chats with us about how superhero costume fabrication has evolved over the years.