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    The Talking Room: Adam Savage Interviews Andy Weir

    Adam Savage welcomes author Andy Weir to The Talking Room! Andy wrote 'The Martian', the story of an astronaut stranded on Mars--it's a book we can't recommend enough. Adam and Andy talk about the research that went into writing the book, the portrayal of astronauts in fiction, and the upcoming film adaptation!

    How To Make a Realistic Horror Skull Prop

    Time for another prop-making tutorial with effects artist Frank Ippolito! This week, we stop by Frank's shop to learn how to transform a cheap plastic skull into a gory horror prop using simple materials. By layering and sculpting cotton and latex, we can simulate gross charred flesh on the skull or any other body part. It's very effective! (This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Learn more about how you can support us by joining the Tested Premium community!)

    In-Brief: Large-Scale Papercraft AT-AT Scratch Build

    It may take us two years to build the DeAgostinni Millennium Falcon model, but you may recall the scratch-built 38-inch papercraft Falcon built by Polish modelmaker Bernard Szukiel (watch his build video here). Szukiel, who is also a member of TheRPF, didn't stop there, and has recently completed three additional 30-inch scratch built models of the AT-AT Walker, also with paper and cardstock. Find photos of these gorgeous AT-ATs in his build log. Next up, he's tackling the X-Wing!

    In Brief: Mad Max Effects Before and After Comparisons

    We've given Mad Max: Fury Road a ton of praise for its storytelling, editing, and use of practical stunts, but here's a big tip of the hat to the effects artists who build the digital post-apocalypse around the Namibian desert where the film was shot. FX Guide's in-depth feature on the visual effects of the film show a sample of the 2000 effects shots that combined the unbelievable stunts in the original plates with color grading and environment tweaks to create the illusion of one cohesive car chase.

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    Tested Builds: Millennium Falcon Studio Scale Replica, Part 1

    This week, we're starting a new long-term build series, and it's a replica prop from Star Wars! We've ordered the DeAgostini Millennium Falcon kit, a 1:1 replica of the shooting model used for The Empire Strikes Back. The kit is being released a piece at a time every month, and it'll take about two years for it to be completed. It's a true endurance build, and we'll have friends join us throughout the series to help out. Follow along with us for the rest of this build by signing up for a Tested Premium Membership here!

    Rick Baker's Make-Up and Special Effects Legacy

    Make-up and special effects legend Rick Baker just announced his retirement from film production, coinciding with the auction of his vast collection of original props, puppets, and animatronics. In this final piece from our visit to that collection, we have an extended conversation with Rick about his work and celebrated career--a lifetime of having fun and improving his craft. Thanks so much to Rick and Prop Store for this incredible opportunity!

    Crafting the Practical Creatures of Gremlins

    Gremlins was a big breakthrough for director Joe Dante, who previously gave us the genre greats Piranha and The Howling. Gremlins would also be a big step forward to animatronic effects, thanks to Chris Walas, who did similar slimy magic for David Cronenberg's The Fly.

    Before the success of Gremlins, Dante worked for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, making his debut comedy, Hollywood Boulevard, in 1976. Next he followed up with Piranha in 1978, then The Howling, which was a big horror hit in 1981, and also broke a lot of ground in make-up effects with Rob Bottin's werewolf creations. While The Howling was a success, Dante didn't make a lot of money from it, and his career was stuck in limbo afterwards, which is why he was surprised when the screenplay for Gremlins arrived at his dump of an office on Hollywood Boulevard. Dante didn't know Spielberg then, but Steven was a fan, Piranha was his favorite Jaws rip-off, and he was apparently inspired by The Howling to cast its star, Dee Wallace Stone, as Elliot's mother in E.T.

    Gremlins was written by Christopher Columbus as a writing sample, and as Dante recalls, "He hadn't written it with the idea that it was something that was going to be produced, so there was a lot of stuff in the script that was pretty hard to do." Initially Spielberg wanted to make Gremlins as a low budget, non-union horror film in Oregon. Yet Dante tells us, "As we developed it, it became apparent that were weren't going to be able to make it very cheap, and it was going to have to have the studio behind it in order for us to pull off what was in the story."

    Previously, make-up artist Chris Walas was working on a remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon with Dante, but Universal decided to scrap the project and made Jaws 3D instead. "I was devastated," Walas says. "I'm a huge Creature fan, and was thrilled to be working on that one."

    Then Dante sent over the script for Gremlins, and Walas says, "I was overwhelmed at the amount of work in it, and that was when the script was (just) a simple horror movie without any characters, just little monsters. I normally make notes on a script as I read it, but I was too astonished at the Gremlins script to make many." Once Walas finished reading the script, he wrote one note on the cover page: "HA!"

    Walas started making some simple sketches with Dante, his producing partner Mike Finnell, and Chris Columbus all providing feedback. "Joe used Chuck Jones cartoons as a reference for the Mogwai," Walas says. "He wanted them to have the same emotional range of some of the Warner Bros cartoon characters."

    ILM Reel Celebrates 40 Years of CG Effects

    For its 40th anniversary, effects house Industrial Light & Magic released this minute-long supercut of the over 300 films its worked on since George Lucas founded it for Star Wars. Their YouTube channel always has great behind-the-scene explorations of specific film shots. Wired's latest cover story is a pretty comprehensive retrospective of the company's work as well. Great photos by Dan Winters, too!

    First Images From The Martian

    It's no secret that I love a good spacesuit, and the first stills from Ridley Scott's adaptation of Andy Weir's fabulous novel, The Martian, have me excited. I'm not sure that Mark Watney's Martian spacesuit is a project I'm going to take on, it's going to be a tough costume to replicate, but I'm thinking about it.

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    The Talking Room: Adam Savage Interviews Traci Des Jardins

    The Talking Room returns! This season's first guest is Traci Des Jardins, an award-winning chef and restaurateur. Traci was a finalist on Top Chef Masters and a semi-finalist for this year’s James Beard award for Outstanding Chef. Adam invited Traci to The Talking Room to talk about her cooking ethos, the challenge of managing restaurants, and her approach to crafting new recipes.

    Maker Faire 2015: Justin Gray's Armored Robots

    In experimenting with converting farm equipment to electric vehicles, fabricator Justin Gray has created a fleet of remote controlled robots that are as beautiful as they are tough. Heavily armored and uniquely sculpted, these robots looked like they rolled off the of the Mad Max set. We chat with Justin about his robots and how they each have a personality of their own.