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    In Brief: 3D Printed StarCraft Armor Cosplay for BlizzCon

    For this past weekend's BlizzCon convention, cosplayer Bindi Smalls created a great armored costume of the character Nova from StarCraft using a LulzBot TAZ 3D printer. She modeled the armor pieces using Blender, adapting them to fit on a body scan created from a previous convention. The prints were coated with Smooth-On XTC, which we've tested in the past for smoothing out print lines. The armor pieces were then finished and worn on a custom spandex suit from FabricOnDemand. The entire build is documented in this Imgur gallery. (h/t Reddit)

    'La Noria' and Creating Horror in Animation

    I recently learned about La Noria, an animated short that has been the passion project of filmmaker Carlos Baena. Baena, who has worked as an animator at ILM and Pixar, wanted to tell a personal story that was different from the tone of animated films audiences had been used to. Specifically, La Noria is a rare animated horror film, inspired by the works of Spanish filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro. A short clip in the film's Indiegogo project video shows how focused lighting, intense sound, and eerie creature design build an awesome atmosphere of suspense. It's also interesting that La Noria is being created by collaboration between artists around the world. The project is currently in the animation phase, and looking for more support to help it get finished. Carlos corresponded with us over email to talk about La Noria and his vision for telling a horror story with computer animation.

    Tell us about the story of La Noria.

    La Noria is an animated horror short film. It's a simple dark story about a boy who encounters some creatures in the middle of the night and who turn his life upside down. I wanted to give my own version of what monsters mean to me. Since college, I've felt there has been a beautiful side to the dark arts, and this film has allowed me to explore that.

    What differentiates an animated horror film in your view from horror told through live action or other forms of animation?

    Image courtesy Carlos Baena

    Currently the difference is that we haven't seen much horror in animation. Part of the motivation to do this on my end was to see more of these kinds of films. My hope would also be that there is no difference in doing horror films in animation or in live-action. Horror is horror regardless of the medium.

    What can computer animation bring to the genre, and what are the challenges of creating tension and horror in the medium?

    With computer animation I'm trying to bring a different feel to it. Something that's more stylized in some ways that only animation can do, while keeping realism in other ways. Creating tension and horror in animation have the same challenges as in live-action, except in animation it unfortunately takes a lot longer to make. Every single prop, character has to be designed, built, rigged, animated, etc. Story wise, you try to tap onto those moments that creep you out, the dark corners of your imagination, and figure out ways to engage an audience.

    In Brief: J.J. Abrams Talks about Directing The Force Awakens

    Out of respect for people resisting any spoilers, images, or details of any kind, I'm trying not to post too much about Star Wars: The Force Awakens until the film's December 18th release. And while this interview from the latest issue of Wired has screencaps from the newest trailer, it also has a tremendous amount of insight from director J. J. Abrams about how he views the orignal Star Wars trilogy and the creation of the new one. It's the kind of qualitative reassurance that Abrams understands what resonates about Star Wars, and how to make a film that aspires to those feelings. No actual story spoilers within (aside from photos). On an unrelated Star Wars note, the awesome designers at Makerspace C4Labs have released the cut files for the laser cut YT-1300 (aka Millennium Falcon) kit that we worked on last month!

    Paying Attention to Color in Post-Production

    Dado Valentic, colorist and founder of production house Mytherapy, discusses how color is considered throughout each step of the production process, from camera to post-production. This talk was also used to promote Adobe's Hue app and integration with Premiere, so it's interesting to see how these consumer and prosumer products can apply to a studio film workflow.

    The Making of Gavin Rothery's 'The Last Man'

    A week ago, I shared with you the short film The Last Man, by director and production designer Gavin Rothery. I loved the simple yet effective story he told, and the world he built to tell it. Over email, Gavin shared with us how he designed and produced the various pieces of the film, from the sets and costumes/props to the cost breakdown of this independent film project. It's really frank detail that I hope could be useful for other directors working on their own shorts. We started by talking about why he wanted to tell this story of isolation and loneliness in a dystopian future.

    Photo credit: Gavin Rothery/Barrett Heathcote

    How'd you come up with the idea with The Last Man? What made you want to tell this kind of story?

    I came up with the idea originally by wanting to do something with the "last man in the world" trope simply because I like it. It's always appealed to me in film and there were some films made in the 70s and 80s that I really enjoyed as a kid, especially "The Omega Man", "The Quiet Earth", and the BBC TV dramatization of the novel "Z for Zachariah". I grew up in the 80s in Yorkshire in North England, and it was quite a bleak place during the cold war. I lived a half a mile away from a large power station in a small town called Elland, and my childhood was haunted by dreams of nuclear bombs going off over the power station and the entire town being vaporized. At school, we had a feature on our curriculum to watch a film called "Threads" twice a year, so I must have seen it at least twelve times going through school. It's the British version that focuses around a nuclear attack on Sheffield (itself only 30 miles from where I grew up), and it's an incredibly gritty, terrifyingly ordinary portrayal of life in the North of England being utterly destroyed in a sudden nuclear war. It seems hard to believe now, but we were brought up to think that the Russians could just attack us at any second, and we would only have a four minute warning. The people and places in this film were exactly the same as where I lived, so it was very easy for me to imagine the entire world being destroyed at any random moment. It all felt very serious and heavy to me, even as a little kid. So it might sound perverse, but I've been imagining the world being destroyed by chemical, biological and nuclear weapons since I was a little kid.

    Photo credit: Gavin Rothery/Barrett Heathcote

    I've always had a bit of a problem with the way the "last man in the world" trope is used in film. The story is always set out like this and inevitably the "last" person (usually a man) ends up meeting some other people. Often at the end of the film this band of survivors will close out their story setting off to join a community they have heard about that is often nearby (Looking at you I am Legend). I hate his--they were never the last people in the world. It's more like "lost man in the world" than "last man".

    However, I understand that a compelling film needs to have certain ingredients such as characters pursuing goals to some ultimate conclusion, and I can see how an entire feature length film featuring a sole character with nobody to talk to and no clear goals could be very hard to pull off. I think the best example of this done well is Castaway starring Tom Hanks, and even he wasn't truly alone because he invented Wilson.

    So with this in mind, I thought that a "last man in the world" scenario was suitable material for a short film, where I could basically tell a story without anybody talking too much. I liked the idea of a film that was almost silent, as it made things that bit harder and as I'm at the start of my career shirt towards directing, I'm always up for getting out of my comfort zone. Plus, I was into the idea of indulging in some destruction porn.

    'Thanks Ray', a Stop-Motion Tribute to Ray Harryhausen

    From director Payton Curtis, "A stop motion tribute to the legendary special effects master, Ray Harryhausen. Ray's creations and imagination had an immense influence on my early life. Unfortunately, Ray passed away on May 7th 2013, but left behind a wealth of material that will charm & amaze generations to come." (h/t DragonFrame blog, which posts awesome stop-motion videos using its software every week!)

    Tested at BrickCon 2015: LEGO Mouse Guard Display

    The most impressive display we saw at this year's BrickCon was easily this Mouse Guard tribute. We chat with LEGO artist Alice Finch, who worked with the group ArchLUG to construct this incredible multi-section diorama, which consists over over 150,000 LEGO bricks!

    Tested at BrickCon 2015: Best LEGO Castle!

    We were recently at BrickCon, the annual LEGO convention in Seattle, Washington. There, we met David Frank, whose massive diorama won the Best Medieval Castle at the show. We chat with David about his LEGO design style, architecture, and how he built this amazing piece.

    Marty Cooper Animates Adam Savage!

    Animator Marty Cooper visits Adam's shop for another collaboration. For this trip, he brought some friends to the cave: puppy bubbles! This video was made for our recent live show, which featured Marty's awesome animations. Check out Marty's other work here.

    In Brief: The Monster Project 2015's Full Gallery

    The Monster Project is an awesome idea: elementary school kids dream up monsters and creatures in crayon, which is then interpreted by professional artists and illustrators who volunteer their time and talent. This year's gallery of collaborations features art from over 100 kids and artists, and you can check them all out here. The Monster Project also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand to more schools and get more artists involved. Which ones are your favorites?

    In Brief: Some Anecdotes about Star Trek Costumes

    Based on set photos and social media posts by director Justin Lin, the next Star Trek movie will feature reworked jumpsuits for the crew of the Enterprise. The upcoming 2017 Trek show may also have some new Trek uniforms as well. Costumes are a huge part of Trek lore, both as a reflection of fashion trends of the time and part of the continuity and canonical narrative of the universe. A new book chronicles the five decades of Star Trek costume design, with stories from costume designers who worked on the shows and films, as well as interviews with the actors who had to put on those futuristic fashions. Here's a sampling of some page spreads from the book, as well as anecdotes from the authors' research:

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    A Brief History of Cosmic Zooms in Cinema

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 1/13/2015 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."

    So said the renowned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Mine – a presentation he delivered via video at the University of Cambridge in 2012 during a symposium held to celebrate his 70th birthday.

    Hawking's remarkable story is dramatized in the Working Title production of The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh. Visual effects for the BAFTA-nominated biopic were provided by Union VFX, including a two-minute end title sequence that imagines a trip not only through deep space and a black hole, but also into the depths of the human nervous system.

    This juxtaposition of elements both cosmically large and biologically small is the perfect analogy for Hawking's life. For most of the time his mind has been exploring the farthest reaches of the universe, his wheelchair-bound body has been constrained by a form of Motor Neurone Disease called ALS.

    Union's lead visual effects supervisor on The Theory of Everything was Adam Gascoyne, but before he shares the film's VFX secrets, let's take a look at some other movies that have taken us to infinity and beyond.

    Watch: Gavin Rothery's 'The Last Man'

    A soldier wakes up from hibernation and seeks his purpose in this new short film from director Gavin Rothery. It just finished a round of festival showings, and was uploaded to YouTube last week. The film has echos of Alien and Duncan Jones' Moon, for which Rothery was the production designer and visual effects supervisor. I love the look and design of the hibernation chamber at the start of the film, as well as the war-ravaged city that the titular protagonist explores. Can't wait to see more of Gavin's work!

    In Brief: Star Trek Returning to TV in 2017, Kind Of

    The next Star Trek film--Star Trek: Beyond--is still in post-production ahead of its summer 2016 release, but we won't have to wait much longer after that for more Trek. CBS today announced that it will launch a completely new Star Trek TV show in January 2017, for first-run distribution on its upcoming digital subscription service, CBS All Access. The show, which will be produced by writer Alex Kurtzman, will get a preview broadcast on TV, but will be a digital exclusive. There are no details about the cast or story, except that it'll be a completely new story set in the Trek universe. What are your bets as to what era/universe this show will be based on?

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    Show and Tell: Halo 5 Needler Full-Size Replica

    The new Halo just came out, and along with it comes this full-size Needler prop from NECA toys. It's based on official game files from 343 Industries, and impressively scaled too. We compare this official prop with the one built by Volpin Props back in 2013, and show some unique things about each model. Place a comment below for a chance to win this NECA Halo Needler replica!

    "Beast Wishes From The Franks" - Episode 21 - 10/30/15
    On this episode of CreatureGeek, we talk to producer, animator, director and documentarian Frank Dietz. Frank talks about his wonderful documentary about Bob Burns entitled "Beast Wishes". Also, we have a really cool Halloween giveaway thanks to the fine folks at Mezco Toys. All you have to do is post your Halloween costume from this year or years past, good or bad. Just get our attention! Tweet at @CreatureGeek and @mezcotoys use the hashtag #BeastWishes!
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    Why Props Matter in Film

    From filmmaker Rishi Kaneria, a video essay examining the use of hand props in film, and their meaningfulness to audiences: "A look at the hidden power of film props. And how filmmakers use the everyday (and not so everyday) objects in their scenes to enhance cinematic storytelling."

    World's Slowest Rube Goldberg Machine

    Artist and engineer Bob Partington teams up with YouTube channel Field Day to make and operate an incredibly slow (but effective) Rube Goldberg machine. Thankfully, they run and film the machine at a sped up rate for the purposes of this video. The entire machine takes six weeks to run. Field Day also has a behind the scenes video here.

    Roger Christian's Work on Star Wars and Alien

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 3/4/2014 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    Recently, Roger Christian talked to me about his short film Black Angel, which supported The Empire Strikes Back during its initial theatrical release in 1980. In the concluding part of this story, he looks back at his experiences as set decorator on Star Wars, and art director on Alien.

    Star Wars

    Roger Christian's Star Wars odyssey began while he was working with production designer John Barry in Mexico on Lucky Lady, building rum-running sets based in 1930s America. "George arrived on one of the sets I was dressing – an old salt factory – and we talked about Star Wars. I told him I'd always imagined that spaceships would be oily, like they were always in and out of the garage being repaired. And George said, 'That's exactly what I want. I don't want anything designed specifically. I want it all to look natural and real.' So I was on Star Wars right from the very start, and George always says I was one of the only five people who stood by his side throughout."

    One of Christian's first tasks, together with art director Les Dilley, was to make a prototype R2-D2. "I hired a carpenter – Bill Harman – who'd made all the props for Monty Python. He was brilliant – you could give him anything and he'd make it work. We had no money, not even enough to buy timber, but Bill had marine plywood at home, which he bent around the frame we'd built. In an electrical store, I found an old lamp from the 1940s and fitted that on top. I carved the little moving prongs on the front, and we stuck some aeroplane bits on and got him approved."