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    Thematic Differences Between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World

    Spielberg's Subtext - Mike Hill from Trojan Horse was a Unicorn on Vimeo.

    If you can forgive the audio quality of this video, it's a great in-depth analysis about the thematic differences between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Designer Mike Hill presented this talk at the THU conference in Berlin in April--his interpretation of the fundamental differences between the films' thematic foundations. Worth the 30 minutes!

    In Brief: The Making of Giant Action Figures for Overwatch

    I know a bunch of you out there are deep into Blizzard's Overwatch (Jeremy, talking about you). Even though I haven't jumped into the game yet, I definitely took note of the giant action-figure style statues commissioned for the game's launch last month. Those statues were made by Steve Wang's Alliance Studio, and this blog post on Mold3D details the fabrication of the "colossal collectibles" for the promotion, including extensive SLS printing for the statue's many pieces.

    Shop Tips: Mixing Superglue and Baby Powder

    This week, Frank teaches us a tip he learned while working for toy companies. By mixing different amounts of superglue and baby powder, you can make a putty that can be used to patch resin castings, almost like makeshift body filler!

    Inside Adam Savage's Cave: Prop Shop Kylo Ren Helmet

    Adam adds a new prop replica to his collection: Kylo Ren's helmet from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! This is actually Adam's second Kylo Ren helmet--he has a modified Black Series Voice Changer helmet and now this high-end model by Prop Shop. We examine the prop to admire its fabrication and detail.

    Batting The Biz Battles - Episode 40 - 6/3/16
    On this our 40th(!) show, Frank and I take a break from talking about the art of makeup and SFX and talk about the art of actually running a successful business. This is a must hear if you are thinking of striking out on your own creatively. There is a lot of talk about getting paid, contracts and the overall self-doubt that pervades every creative person's mind. If you are enjoying the show, head over to and support us with a few bucks.
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    Transcript: Adam Savage's Q&A at the 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire

    If you missed Adam's Bay Area Maker Faire talk, you can watch or read a transcript of it here. Otherwise, here are the 30-plus questions he took from the audience.

    Question 1: Inspiring Kids

    Thank you. Now, I can take some questions from the audience. The first question is from the father of 10-month-old daughter. He notices that studies show that in elementary school, there is no difference in curiosity of girls and boys but that changes by middle school and high school. There was actually a TED talk this year by a woman who talked about the fact that by 13 years old, the girls in her coding classes would rather say they hadn't done the assignment than show her five failed attempts at coding.

    By that age, girls have already been inculcated with a cultural idea of perfection that is not serving them to fail safely, whereas boys somehow seem to be gathering that a little bit longer. Number one, I've gotten asked a lot how do get girls interested in science and I say, ask girls. They're actually more powerful social scientists than all of us put together. They're watching what we do and judging us, gently. It is again that the thing about making: It's failing safely. The two most powerful teachers I had were teachers told me they didn't know. When I asked a question they didn't know, they said, I don't know. I remember being thrilled by that.

    That was fantastic but not a lot of teachers do that. It's hard to control a class full of people. Again, I'm now rambling because I don't have a distinct answer, but my thinking is, what I've always done with my kids is put what's in front of them that they're interested in. I've done OK in television over the past decade and a half. I've been trying to tell my kids that I've given them a terrible example, because I've had a successful TV show for their whole childhoods. That's not reality, that's the fantasy so I don't shower expensive gifts on my kids. That's by design. They fly coach — that's where they should be. I've gotten some looks.

    This Christmas, they both asked me for expensive gifts, specifically in relation to music. I was with some friends of mine who are professional musicians in San Diego and I was saying, "Should I get these gifts for my kids?" The musicians are like, "Absolutely. Just do it. Stop talking to us and order them." They've been the greatest pair of gifts ever because my 17-year-old twin boys have been making music obsessively since Christmas with these tools that I bought them and that's really rewarding as a dad. I don't have girls so I can't speak to that. I can tell you that teenage boys are disgusting. They smell like sweats, Old Spice and farts. Yet, I'm totally inspired by them.

    New Adam-Designed Poster for the Tested Premium Community!

    Good news! We have another poster in the works for Tested members. To celebrate cosplay at this year's Comic-Con, Adam has designed a new poster based off the numerous sketches he's drawn in his notebook brainstorming this year's incognito costume (which he teased at Maker Faire!). We can't reveal the poster until Comic-Con, but it's densely packed with doodles, schematics, and studies that will shape Adam's costume build. Like last year, the poster will be free for new and renewing members.

    So if you haven't joined yet, head on over to the subscriptions page to learn more about the Tested Premium Member community, and sign up to get the new poster! (And if you still have questions about last year's toolbox poster, please email and we'll do our best to sort things out.)

    Building a Studio Scale Death Star Laser Tower Model, Part 4

    This month, prop maker David Goldberg shares with us his build of a studio-scale replica of the Death Star laser tower from Star Wars. Previously, David covered sourcing his reference, fabricating the structure, and adding the details. We finish with painting and weathering!

    The time has come to paint and weather the model. This is one of my favorite parts of the whole modelmaking process. The time when everything comes together visually as a unified whole. Before painting I disassembled the laser cannons and curved tracks in order to make them easier to paint. The first step is to give the model an overall coat of grey primer. This gives the model a uniform base color, seals the MDF and aids in the adhesion of subsequent paints to the plastic and brass parts. I used a spray can Filler Primer from Rustoleum, applied in several light coats until the model was a uniform shade of grey. It's amazing how just a simple coat of primer can tie everything together!

    There was a little bit of over spray (it was a particularly warm weekend) so I went over the whole model with an extra fine scotch bright pad to knock off any dusty overspray. The next step was to "pre-shade" all the panel lines and around some of the detail features with flat black water based Tamiya acrylic paint sprayed with an airbrush. This pre-shading will subtly show through the base paint layer to be applied next giving a little bit of visual depth and variation to the overall look. Its okay that the pre-shading is a little rough and sloppy, it actually looks a little better in the end not being too consistent.

    Next was an overall base coat of Tamiya Acrylic Royal Light Grey sprayed on with an airbrush. I thinned the paint almost 1:1 with water and built up the opacity with subsequent coats until I had the amount of pre-shading showing through that I wanted. The thinned paint dries more transparent so it usually takes more coats than you originally think. The end result is a subtle dark shading around the edges of the panels. The effect will be further reduced with the washes and other weathering yet to come.

    Next came a little fine overspray of a darker grey applied with an air brush. The overspray doesn't really show up in the pictures but does add a bit of variety to the surface of the model. Once the overspray had dried the whole thing was sealed with a coat of Pledge Liquid Floor Finish, which is basically just a water based clear varnish. This will prevent the wash coming next from staining the base color too much.

    In Brief: For the Love of Soothing Spaceship Sounds

    Have you ever pulled up YouTube videos that sample and loop the ambient sounds of sci-fi spaceships to just listen to in the background? Chances are you loaded videos created by Star Trek fan Spike Snell. Snell, along with sound effects editor Peter Lago, are interviewed in this Atlas Obscura story about the appeal and making of ambient engine noises for film and television. Lago explains his approach to designing a spaceship's soothing rumble, and also breaks down the characteristics of some of sci-fi's better known vessels.

    Transcript: Adam Savage's 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire Talk

    I'm really sorry I wasn't here last year. I apologize. I was in another state, and I mean an actual state, not a state of mind. Last December, Jamie and I took our road show on the road, as you do. We took our stage show — called "Adam and Jamie Unleashed: Behind The Myths Tour" — and we took it to 31 cities in 36 days. We've been doing this for five years. It's a show we love to perform. We do it for 2,000 or 3,000 people at a time, and it's really wonderful. We wrote it, we own it, we love it. I'm up on stage in New Orleans for the opening night, and it's late November. We've just wrapped MythBusters two days before, and we've flown to New Orleans. We're doing this show, we get up on stage, we do the whole show, and it's fantastic.

    It's going really great. The crowd is wild, the food was great, and I get to the closing monologue of the show, and I turn to Jamie, and I'm about to deliver the closing monologue and I realize it's not in my head. It's totally not there. I've done enough stage performance to know that one second for the audience feels like about 15 seconds to me, so I know not to start panicking about the time, so I start scrolling through what I remember from the show, because I've remembered it all up until this point, and there's nothing there. All the file cards I have for the end of the show are blank. I just started talking.

    I started talking about how grateful we were to be there, and I said something that tickled in my mind, where I was supposed to go in order to tee up Jamie's monologue, and so I did. Jamie gives me a look of naked panic, because this was not what he was expecting. I gave him the first line of his monologue, and then we were cool. Then we finished the show. I'm going to work from notes here.

    A couple weeks ago, I did a really wonderful AMA on Reddit/Maker. I think some of you were probably on then. We did it in conjunction with The White House Office of Science and Technology, and a trip I'd taken to Cleveland.

    I got some fantastic questions on Reddit, but this really struck me: Four separate people asked me, "Do you ever get despondent? Do you ever get discouraged, and how do you deal with that?" It is a really common question. Interestingly enough, that question came up during a really, really crappy week I was having in my shop. When I say crappy, I mean superiorly crappy. I did the AMA on a Wednesday. On Monday, Norm, Joey and I had started a one-day build in my shop; I was going to build some dials and some stuff for Apollo suit that I'm working on with Ryan Nagata.

    This is precision work. I have recently gotten a Bridgeport Mill, and I was doing some milling operations along with the lathe, and it's been a while. When you're milling stuff, order of operations is everything. I wasn't getting them right, and everything I built was screwing up, and usually at the very end, on the last operation. I had to build everything three times, and the third one was just barely good enough to send to Ryan to mold and cast for the parts we were making together. I literally finished the day, I'm not kidding, thinking this thought, "I have no business making things."

    In Brief: Editing Comedy for Movie Trailers

    Tony Zhou (Every Frame a Painting) doesn't just make fantastic videos analyzing various aspects of filmmaking, he also occasionally writes about it on his Medium blog. The latest entry is an on-point comparison between the recent domestic and international Ghostbusters trailer, which handle a comedic bit in slightly different ways. Zhou explains how editing and the addition/omission of just a few frames changes the comedy.

    The Work of a Creature Performer

    The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' YouTube channel has been producing some great profiles of artists and filmmakers. This recent interview with ADI's Tom Woodruff Jr. (previous featured here) has some great behind-the-scenes stores and footage from memorable creature films like Alien 3.

    Favorite Movie Pairings - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 5/31/16
    We start the podcast this week chatting about a recent movie marathon Adam hosted for his family, and the screening of three classic 80s movies that fit well together. We also talk about the new Strandbeest exhibit in San Francisco's Exploratorium museum, and Adam's meeting with artist Theo Jansen!
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    Photo Gallery: Theo Jansen's Strandbeests in San Francisco

    We've very privileged to have artist/scientist Theo Jansen's Strandbeests in San Francisco for the summer, in an exhibition at the Exploratorium science and discovery museum. Last week, Theo took two of his creatures to San Francisco's Crissy Field beach, where they roamed against a Golden Gate backdrop. Here are some photos from that outing, as well as the exhibition, which opens today!

    Barnaby Dixon's Elegant Finger Puppet Concept

    We've gotten a flurry of tips from readers about puppet maker Barnaby Dixon's finger puppet concept, and you were all correct--this video is amazing. The two-handed puppet is wired with hand and leg mechanisms that give it lively movements and gesture capability. It really comes alive in Barnaby's hands. While we're on the topic of puppets, Academy Originals recently profiled Laika studio's Head of Puppetry in an in-depth behind-the-scenes video.

    Adam Savage's Maker Faire 2016 Talk!

    It's been called the Maker Faire Sermon, but you know it as Adam's annual talk at the Maker Faire festival. This year, Adam spoke on a mechanical giraffe, sharing stories about his recent visits to maker spaces around the country, bouts of self-doubt, and his mission going forward. Plus, some great questions from the crowd!