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    Simple Feats of Science: Liquid Nitrogen Experiments!

    In this episode of Simple Feats of Science, we're joined by Zeke Kossover from The Exploratorium to demonstrate an unconventional experiment with liquid nitrogen. Kishore and Zeke discuss some liquid nitrogen basics, and then show how you can use it to illuminate a broken light bulb!

    Tested Mailbag: Codenames Box

    Time to open another Tested mystery mailbag! This one comes from Robbie, who sends a great accessory to one of our favorite tabletop games, Codenames. Do you keep your board game boxes? Thanks, Robbie!

    Shop Tips: Covering Your Work Tables

    A simple yet essential shop tip from Frank's shop today: covering your work tables with a big sheet of paper. Frank talks about what type of paper he uses and why it perfectly suits his projects and table dimensions. It's time to paper up our tables!

    The Immortal Show - Episode 35 - 4/15/16
    Frank and Len welcome guests Andrew Freeman and George Frangadakis of Immortal Masks. Frank adds some "apple juice" to the mix and we chat about the creative process, what prospective artists should be working on if they want to work with a company like Immortal, and how a little strip club taught George everything he needed to know about running a business. Once again, this episode enters a NSFW realm, so if there are sensitive ears nearby, maybe listen on your headphones. In any event, if you like the show, please consider heading over to our Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek) and throwing us some bucks. We will see you LIVE at Monsterpalooza, coming up next week!
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    In Brief: Topographically Accurate Lunar Desk Globe

    I am completely enamored by this desk model, a project four years in the making by artist Oscar Lhermitte and London design studio Kudu. It's a 1/20million scale model of the moon (~7-inch diameter), modeled with accurate topographical data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and 3D printed with an industrial SLS printer at 100 microns layer height. The resin cast globe rotates on a simple motorized pedestal, illuminated by a ring of LEDs on an extended arm to simulate the sun. The photos of this globe look stunning. Find the project on Kickstarter here, where the desk model is selling for $700 for the globe and motorized LED arm. Too expensive for me, but it's absolutely lovely.

    Norman
    Tested Builds: Perfect Grade Gundam, Part 1

    Welcome to another week of builds! We're tackling a new type of kit this week: gunpla! And for our first Gundam build, we're going big with a Perfect Grade Zeta Gundam at 1/60 scale. Norm is joined by Sean Charlesworth, Frank Ippolito, and special guest Danica Johnson to work together and build this mecha! (This first video is available for everyone--watch the rest of the build by signing up with the Tested Premium member community!)

    The Hodge Podge/Potpourri Show - Episode 34 - 4/8/16
    Frank and I record a "real time" episode this week. For the first time, we actually recorded this episode this week, instead of weeks ahead. This is one of our first Hodge Podge/Potpourri shows. On this ep, we chat about The Witch, Batman V Superman, Daredevil, orange blood and a lot more! If you like the show, please consider heading over to our Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek) and throwing us some bucks. See you at Monsterpalooza later this month!
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    Adam Savage and Simone Giertz Make a Popcorn Machine

    This very special One Day Build is an international collaboration with the newest member of the Tested family! Simone Giertz is an amazing maker who builds mesmerizing robots. To build her latest machine, she chats with Adam from her home in Sweden to design a mechanism to deploy popcorn from a helmet. Adam builds some parts in the cave using his trusty vacuum-form machine!

    Adam Savage's One Day Builds: Filing the Files

    This mini-build is actually a pre-build of sorts. In preparation for an upcoming One Day Build, Adam spends a little time in the morning building a new plywood box to organize his mill file collection. The files are taken out of drawers and put in a new system for first-order retrievability. It's time to file the files!

    Watch District 9 with Adam Savage and Neill Blomkamp!

    We're excited to announce a new collaboration with Alamo Drafthouse cinema in San Francisco! On April 17th, the New Mission theater will host a special double feature screening, starting with Neill Blomkamp's District 9 and followed by a to-be-announced movie chosen by Neill--who'll be joining the Tested team in attendance! In between the films, Adam and Neill will take the stage for an interview, along with a surprise that Tested fans will love. The event is open to the public, but Tested Premium members got an early notice for tickets--join the community so you won't miss out in the future. This will be the first in a series of screening events we'll be doing, and not just in San Francisco.

    You can find tickets to the screening on Alamo Drafthouse's website here. We'll also be filming the conversation with Adam and Neill and putting it up on the site soon after the event.

    Molding and Casting Tiny Prop Parts

    I don't know about you, but I tend to jump from one project obsession to another. Just as I was getting over my space gun prop obsession I slipped right into a deep fascination with tiny robot models. My current project is a 1:6 scale Mister Handy robot model from Fallout 4. The majority of it is 3D printed, but I'm molding and casting all of the parts for durability and so that I can make multiples of repeated parts like the arms and eyes.

    I've made a whole bunch of silicone molds in my career. Most of them have been of a moderate scale; roughly space pistol sized. Some of them, on the other hand, have been ridiculously large. For example, the District 9 alien rifle main body mold is over 44" long and took my wife and me 4 days to build.

    With this latest tiny robot project, I've gone in the opposite direction. The molds and pieces for such a small model kit are comically tiny compared to the rifle molds. Some of the parts for this pint sized robot are only a couple of centimeters long! Making gigantic molds and castings is extremely challenging, but I quickly learned with this new project that small molds have their own, different set of hurdles.

    Building Fallout 4 T-60 Power Armor, Part 1

    In this post, I'll be outlining the process of extracting the 3D models for the Power Armor from Fallout 4's game data and turning them into the blueprint for the rest of the build. Modern games like Fallout 4 have incredibly detailed models in game and are a great base to start from and require very little digital cleanup and remodeling, so when doing props or cosplays from games I try to start from the source.

    The process to extract content from the game can be pretty tricky. The exact process for every game will be different, and some games are so locked down that you have to rip the data directly from the video card while it's being rendered. It pays to do a lot of research because there is almost always some tool that some person or group has developed to assist extracting the content.

    Bethesda Games run on their own proprietary game engine, and the fan community has created a handful of tools you can use to extract the game content. The main programs we use for this are the Bethesda Archive Extractor to extract models and textures from the game's content archive, and NifSkope which will load the extracted content and convert it into a format we can use. Locating the right assets can often be much easier said than done as there are literally thousands upon thousands of model and texture assets in modern games. After we extract them using BAE and NifSkope converts the models into a useable format, we load those into our 3D modeling suite. Now we can begin the real work!

    I often get asked "what 3D modeling program should I use?" There's no right or wrong answer to this question, so ultimately it comes down to what you are most familiar with, and what exactly you're trying to create. Generally speaking, if you are wanting mechanical parts or something that moves, then a CAD suite is best suited for the job. If you're wanting an organic shape, like the Xenomorph skull, then a digital sculpting suite like Zbrush or Sculptris is probably better. We'll be doing a lot of simple operations, and personally I use Blender for things like this because it's free, it's open source, and I'm familiar enough with the interface to be able to do simple tasks quickly. Try not to limit yourself to a single program or toolchain, and use the right tool for the job even when it comes to modeling and CAD software.

    Adam Savage Incognito as Comic-Book Hellboy!

    For the inaugural Silicon Valley Comic Con, Adam wanted to do something special for his incognito cosplay: he walked through the convention as the comic-book version of Hellboy, having first cosplayed as the movie version eight years ago. Watch Adam transform into his favorite comic character, carrying a prop he made in a recent One Day Build!

    The History of Puppetry in Cinema

    Everyone knows what a puppet is. Or do they? Just so we're clear, here's Howard Berger, co-founder of KNB EFX, with his definition: "A puppet can be anything you want it to be. It can be a paper bag with googly eyes drawn on it. It can be a sock. It can be a million-dollar mechanical T-Rex. It is whatever the puppeteer wants to bring to life."

    What a puppet is not – for the purposes of this article at least – is the kind of cunningly-jointed figurine used by stop-motion animators. Our topic here is real-time performances created by manual or mechanical means.

    Puppets in the Past

    Puppetry is ancient. Greek historian Herodotus was writing about it in the 5th century B.C., and you can bet your life that puppets are a good deal older than that. Certainly, by the time the motion picture industry took off at the start of the 20th century, puppetry was deeply embedded in cultures worldwide, with a dizzying range of techniques on offer, from hand puppets to marionettes, Japanese bunraku to Java's shadowy wayang kulit.

    "The Witch" by George Méliès, a 1906 film featuring giant puppets.

    Hollywood embraced puppetry from the beginning. Georges Méliès, grand master of stage illusions, conjured countless fantasies that relied on large-scale puppets for their visual effects, including his 1906 film The Witch, which features a bizarre menagerie comprising a giant frog, an oversized owl, and a sinuous fire-breathing dragon.

    An even bigger dragon puppet roared onto cinema screens in 1929, when Fritz Lang unleashed Die Nibelungen, featuring a 50-foot-long mechanical serpent called Fafnir. Concealed inside the puppet's head was a can of gasoline hooked up to a pair of bellows, a basin of burning acetylene, and a generous supply of lycopodium powder. When this health and safety nightmare let rip, the result was a burst of flame 30 feet long.