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    The Smart Highway Project Prototype

    Vice Motherboard interviews designer Daan Roosegaarde about his collaboration with a Dutch construction company to implement a Smart Highway prototype in the Netherlands. The project is actually a set of 20 systems to assist drivers and tap into the potential of electric cars, including inductive charging lanes and contextually illuminated roads. Read more about Smart Highway here.

    A Few Amazing Architectural Scale Models

    Designer (and friend of Tested) Nick Acosta clued me into the current home of the Panorama of the City of New York, a 10,000 sq ft model of the city that was made for the 1964 World's Fair. The Panorama, as World's Fair enthusiasts remember it, replicates New York's 900,000 buildings in 1:1200 scale (every inch represents 100 feet), of which some 35,000 were hand made from wood or foam and painted. Visitors viewed the model from a nine-minute ride that simulated the experience of flying over the city in a helicopter, as if they were 20,000 feet in the air. I had no idea that the model was still on display. It's viewable at the Queens Museum, which is now on our list of must-visit places the next time we go to New York Maker Faire. If you can't make it to Queens, Curbed's New York blog recent visited the miniature and posted a ton of great photos.

    And since I have miniatures on the mind, here are a few of my favorite scale models I've been able to see in recent travels:

    Pan Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco: San Francisco's currently celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the 1915 World's Fair that was held in what's now the city's Marina district. Several dozen city blocks were turned into fairgrounds to commemorate the opening of the Panama canal, as well as the city's rebirth after the 1906 earthquake. As part of the centennial festivities, a large scale model of the original fairgrounds was restored and is on display at the California Historical Society. If you're in town for GDC this week, this is only a block away from the Moscone convention center!

    Disneyland, Walt Disney Family Museum: This 12-foot model representing Disneyland as Walt Disney imagined it (including all the attractions he planned for it before his death) was built by Kernerworks for the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco's Presidio park. It's incredibly intricate, and you're allowed to get pretty close up to it for photographs. There's a similar model on display at the Opera House at Disneyland's Main Street, which is a representation of what the park looked like on its 1955 opening day.

    Show and Tell: Replica Starfleet Tricorder

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares his love of the Star Trek Tricorder prop that was built for The Next Generation show and subsequent Trek series and films. The props used for production were upgraded over time with better electronics, and Roddenberry's new Mark IX Tricoder is a fine replica of the ones seen in First Contact.

    In-Depth: Replicating 'The Shining's' Overlook Maze Model

    Adam Savage's replica of The Overlook Maze model from The Shining is one of his more complex projects in recent memory, given the timetable required for the build and the sheer amount of focused work needed for it. Adam, Will, and Norm sit down to discuss the planning and execution of the replica, running through Adam's research, in-progress photos, and documentation. Be sure to first watch the full video showing off the project!

    Photo Gallery: Adam Savage's Overlook Hotel Maze Model

    A few photos from the build, as well as the pictures from our photo session before shipping Adam's Overlook Maze model off to the next stop of the <a href="http://www.stanleykubrick.de/en/ausstellungstour-exhibition-on-tour/">Stanley Kubrick travelling exhibition</a> in Mexico!

    Adam Savage's Overlook Hotel Maze Model

    Over the span of a month, Adam designed and built an accurate replica of the hedge maze architectural model from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The maze model, as seen in The Overlook Hotel, is only seen briefly, but reference screenshots from throughout the film allowed Adam to painstakingly recreate it. The project ended up as one of Adam's more labor-intensive builds in recent memory! (Watch our follow-up in-depth discussion of this maze build here.)

    A Peek Inside Warner Bros' Prop Vault

    If you can forgive the campy presentation, CNN's tour of the Warner Bros. prop archive is pretty neat. I've seen plenty of videos of the props and costumes on display at the Warner Bros. studio tour in Hollywood, but this warehouse of wardrobe and vehicles from films like Gravity, The Dark Knight, and Harry Potter is like the propmaker's version of Raiders of the Lost Ark's Hanger 51. Some additional photos from that visit here.

    Building the Academy Awards LEGO Oscar

    One thing we forgot to mention in yesterday's podcast about the recent Academy Awards ceremony was the use of LEGO Oscars during The LEGO Movie musical performance. LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya, who we've previously interviewed, designed and built those statuettes for the show, and posted this short time-lapse video of the build on his YouTube channel. This video is brief, but you can see Sawaya using glue to bond the pieces together--something he does for all his sculptures for stability and durability. And for those of you who want to build your own LEGO Oscar, the kit is now up for voting on the LEGO Ideas website.

    Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 3: The Test

    It's an exercise in troubleshooting as Jamie and the Kernerworks crew try various last-minute tweaks to the not-quite-operational spiders in order to make them race-ready the next day. For additional behind-the-scenes footage, Jamie's original build notes and project photos, click here.

    The Practical Special Effects of Robocop

    I'm not sure about the origins of this featurette (it may have been for an old DVD release in the late 90s or early 2000s) but it's an awesome behind-the-scenes look at the practical effects produced for the original Robocop. Interviews with matte painter Rocco Gioffre, designer Craig Hayes (who built ED-209), production designer William Sandell, and of course animator Phil Tippett paint a comprehensive picture of the production process. There's some interesting insight into how these artists didn't just employ techniques like matte paintings and stop-motion animation, they invented some in-camera innovations just for the film. (h/t Reddit)

    Using 3D Printing to Prototype Hollywood Costumes

    For a segment on movie production and video games, UK's Sky News visited Shepperton Studios to speak with different propmakers about the use of 3D printing for Hollywood costume. 3D printing as a tool for prototyping helmets, armor, and weapons is something that both professional and amateur propmakers have been tinkering with in recent years, and it's neat to see familiar props from films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Prometheus at these workshops. Aside from the Objets in use at fabrication shops like IPFL, many of the tools users are available to consumers. For example, the AgiSoft's photogrammetry software we used for our papercraft head models last year is the same used at FBFX for modeling actors for digital prop fittings.

    Show and Tell: R2-D2 Sixth Scale Figure

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares a new figure created by Sideshow Collectibles in their Star Wars line of sixth scale replicas. This is one of the finest R2-D2 reproductions we've seen at this size, with articulating dome, touch-activated lights, magnetic panels, and plenty of accessories. All its missing is sound effects--you'll have to provide the beeps and boops yourself.

    The Costuming Secrets of Samurai Armor

    We visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to explore a massive collection of Samurai Armor. The exhibition featured over 100 pieces of samurai equipment, from beautiful full suits of armor to the more obscure pieces of battle gear. We chat with the exhibit curator to learn about how ceremonial samurai armor was treated as costume, and the interesting secrets of a few pieces on display.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Racing Quad Buyer's Guide

    Back in December, we put together an overview of ready-to-fly quad-rotors. I intended to follow that article with a similar piece that focused on racing quads. It quickly became apparent, however, that racing quads are a very different kind of beast and would require an altered form of presentation. What I provide here is a beginner's buyers guide for aspiring quad racers. I’ll cover the components that you’ll need, some of the different equipment options, and a few recommended retailers for you to get started.

    Before We Get Start

    It should be noted that racing quads are not for beginners. They are small, fast, and maneuverable. Those traits are what make racing quads fun, but they also exaggerate the difficult aspects of learning to fly multi-rotors. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that racing quads are rather expensive as well. You can easily spend $1000 for all of the equipment that you’ll need to get started.

    I’ve preached my suggested route for beginners several times, so I won’t repeat it here. I’m just starting to explore racing quads myself, so I’m hardly qualified to make any skill-level recommendations. However, I can say that I would personally feel uneasy about trying racing quads if I didn’t already have significant experience flying slower quads outdoors (without GPS aids) and with First Person View (FPV) gear.

    Most modern racing quads are in the 250mm class, although it isn’t uncommon to find models ranging from 230-270mm. This measurement denotes the distance between the propeller shaft of a front rotor and the propeller shaft of the rear motor on the opposite side. At less than 10”, a 250mm racing quad is rather small compared to a DJI Phantom 2 or Blade 350 QX. In fact, they are only slightly larger than many of the beginner-oriented mini-quads. The difference is that racing quads pack a lot more relative power into a very small footprint.


    In general, racing quads are offered as kits that must be assembled. Some vendors offer only specific components such as frames or motors. Other shops provide everything you’ll need in one box. In a few instances you will find stores that offer pre-built and flight tested racing quads. Keep in mind that quad racing is a contact sport, so crashes and repairs are inevitable. This spawns two schools of thought regarding pre-built racers. On one hand, the education and familiarity provided by building your quad will be useful assets when the time comes to fix it. On the other hand, going pre-built removes the variables posed by rookie set-up blunders. Choose your poison.

    Before shopping for a racing quad, I suggest that you seek out other quad flyers in your area. See what equipment they are using and what works for them. Having access to someone with first-hand experience is one of the best ways to sort through the overwhelming array of options. Locals can also help you clear any hurdles you may experience during the build and set up of your racer.

    Photo Gallery: Assembling and Painting the 1/6th Scale Figure Kit

    Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the most recent One Day Build at Adam's shop, where Adam and Norm each assembled and painted a garage kit. They took very different approaches to the paint job as well, and both looked great in the end. Check out close-up photos of the finished pieces!

    One Day Builds: 1/6th Scale Cosmonaut Model Kit

    In this episode of One Day Builds, Adam Savage spends a day at the shop assembling and painting a beautiful 1/6th scale garage kit, based on the fantastical characters of artist Derek Stenning. Adam and Norm each work on their own kit, and Adam teaches us some painting and weathering techniques to bring out the intricate details on this sci-fi cosmonaut figure.

    Weta's Performance Capture and City Building Tools

    Weta Digital is up for an Academy Award for the company's visual effects work on last year's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The film has some of the best digital characters I've seen on screen, and this video from Weta explains how that was made possible with a combination of new performance capture tools and manual animation. These digital performances are always a collaboration between actor and animator, even though the two may never meet. The brief explanation of how Weta artists built the apocalyptic San Francisco is also really interesting. For further reading, Digitaltrends has a more in-depth examination of the technologies used for the film.