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    Adam Savage Inspects the Spacesuit from The Martian!

    Adam Savage gets special access to one of the spacesuits from The Martian to study and document it for his personal replica project! Here's Adam's gleeful first impressions after opening the suit's shipping crate and appreciate for some of the fine fabricated details seen in person. (Bring home The Martian, nominated for 7 Academy Awards®, on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD today.)

    Making Props with the Inventables X-Carve CNC Router

    Greetings Tested readers! I'm Bill Doran, prop maker from Punished Props. You may recall the District 9 Alien Rifle project I did with the gang for last year's San Diego Comic-Con. That was a super fun collaboration and we're looking to do more of that in 2016. I'm also slated to write some articles for the site throughout the year. These articles will be on various subjects relevant to prop and costume making.

    Today I want to talk a little bit about CNC routing, particularly with the X-Carve from Inventables. Inventables reached out to a bunch of makers on YouTube to share some demo units and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one. I've built up my tool collection significantly in the past few years so I'm not hurting for options, but I was particularly excited about this machine, for a number of reasons.

    First, it's big. The version I received has a 1000mm x 1000mm cutting area. Compared to the 20" x 12" area in my Full Spectrum laser cutter, the X-Carve is a monster. The CNC router can also cut materials that would be dangerous in a laser (like PVC plastic) or materials that would be impossible in my laser (aluminum).

    The X-Carve can also cut materials into 3D forms, similar to my 3D printer, but it has a couple of distinct advantages over that machine as well. For starters, my Dremel Idea Builder is limited to just one material: PLA. The X-Carve can tackle just about any plastic or wood you throw at it. In many cases, it's also significantly faster than a 3D printer. The Z-axis depth is much more limited than the 3D printer at just a couple of inches, but as I said before, the X and Y axis can travel 1000mm in either direction; much more than my 3D printer.

    Does this make the CNC router the only tool I'll need in my shop? Of course not! It is, however, an extremely powerful and versatile tool that boosts what's possible in my small prop making shop. I'm really stoked to see what I can make it do. I'm also looking forward to the day when my CNC router, 3D Printer, and laser cutter are all running concurrent jobs while I cackle maniacally like a mad scientist. At least until they all become self aware and destroy humanity.

    The Millennium Falcon Flies Again

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 1/12/2016 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    What's your favorite movie starship? If Han Solo's Millennium Falcon isn't on your shortlist, there's something wrong with you. And if you haven't yet enjoyed the crazy aerobatics of the galaxy's most iconic hunk of junk in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there's something really wrong with you.

    For the latest film in the staggeringly popular space saga – featured in the February issue of Cinefex – the Falcon gets a new pilot in the form of Rey, a lonely scavenger from the desolate planet of Jakku. However, just as Rey isn't the first person to sit behind the controls of this much-loved spacecraft, so the Falcon seen in The Force Awakens is hardly the first version of the ship to have graced cinema screens over the years.

    So just how many Falcons have there been?

    The very first Falcon of all was created for the original Star Wars in 1977. To begin with, she didn't even have a name – Lucas and the rest of the crew referred to her simply as the "pirate ship". What's more, she didn't look one bit like the retrofitted saucer now familiar to fans around the world.

    Constructed by the model department at Industrial Light & Magic, that first Falcon was long and thin, with a cluster of chunky engines at the back. Late in the day, when the lovingly-created six-foot miniature was more or less ready to go in front of the camera, director George Lucas decided the ship looked too much like the Eagle transporter from TV show Space: 1999. Suddenly, it was all change on the Falcon front.

    Building a Star Wars Shadowtrooper Helmet Kit!

    We've had the Shadowtrooper armor kit from Anovos completed since last year, but one addition kit that we wanted to build was the helmet. Over the course of a day, Frank and Norm tackle the helmet build, showing you how to clean up the vacuum-formed parts and put them together. With only four plastic pieces, this is a great place to start on your own Stormtrooper kit!

    TRANSCRIPT: We Got This Podcast--Star Wars vs. Star Trek

    An Internet search for "Star Wars vs. Star Trek" yields 8.1 MILLION results. That's because for the last 40 years, the two franchises have dominated pop culture, developing passionate fan bases in the process. But which one is "better"?

    It is this question that Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin, hosts of the We Got This podcast, set out to answer definitively. To help them, they called in two friends and experts -- Adam Savage and John Hodgman. After an hour of debate, a conclusion was reached.

    Courtesy of Michael B. Johnson

    To listen to the FULL podcast (which includes some pretty funny non-sequiturs, including a conversation about the potential dating life of the actor who played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in the Star Wars Holiday Special), go here or to iTunes. And check out some of Mark and Hal's other We Got This subjects, which range from sweet vs. sour pickles to the best James Bond film.

    In the meantime, enjoy, and feel free to chime in with your opinion in the comments.

    Lighting and Color in Hotel Transylvania 2

    I've been impressed with the work of Sony Pictures Animation ever since their work on 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs', and love this featurette showing the thought process behind lighting and color in the recently released Hotel Transylvania 2. The film, which just hit Blu-Ray this week, was directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, best known for Samurai Jack and the Star Wars: Clone Wars series. Particularly interesting are the use of animation color scripts to picture a sort of visual roadmap of the film.

    Designing 3D-Printed Mechwarrior Mechs

    We're joined in the office by 3D modeler and designer Jacky Wan, who shares with us his 3D printed Mechwarrior online mechs. These figures were created on his Ultimaker by extracting in-game models and then modifying and adapting them for printing. Jacky chats with us about what it takes to turn game files into printable objects!

    Jason Freeny's Micro Anatomic Figures

    I wanted to share with you guys one of my favorite things I got over the holidays. Artist Jason Freeny, who we interviewed a few years ago in his studio, sculpts amazing custom toys revealing the imagined dissected anatomy of pop culture icons like Barbie and Mickey Mouse. Most of his work are one-off pieces for exhibitions or sold directly to collectors, but he's also dabbled with a few mass-produced toys that are much more attainable (everyone should get this Gummi Bear Anatomy Model Kit). In a recent collaboration with Mighty Jaxx toys, Freeny released these Micro Anatomic figures, which take inspiration from LEGO's minifigs. Unlike minifigs, they stand 3-inches tall and don't articulate, but they're wonderfully detailed and look great on my desk.

    I found these on ToyQube, and will give you guys a closer look in a future Show and Tell video. A comparison between these figures and a standard LEGO minifig is below.

    In Brief: The Force Awakens' VFX Supervisor on Balancing Digital and Practical

    In an interview with Studio Daily, ILM's Roger Guyett talks in-depth about the digital effects work that his team put into Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Because of J.J. Abrams' championing of practical effects (especially in preview reels like the one shown at Comic-Con), there's a bit of a misconception of how much digital work actually ended up in the film. Guyett explains that 2100 of the 2500 shots in TFA had visual effects, and the goal was to use them in a way that sustained believability, complementing the practical camera work on location. They saw success in convincing shots that were entirely digital, like Rey's speeder zipping across Jakku in the first teaser, as well as long sequences like the Millennium Falcon chase. For that scene, the trick was to ground the digital camera movements in real-world physics, as well as capture terrabytes of photographic and video reference for the artists to create the digital desert environment.

    Norman
    "Everett Burell's Optic Nerve" - Episode 26 - 1/8/16
    Happy New Year from CreatureGeek! We kick off the new year with a wonderful interview with the original owner of Optic Nerve, Everett Burrell. Everett talks about the history of Optic Nerve and how it fits in the wider echelon of the visual effects history. Also, Frank and I launched a new Patreon for the show! Head on over to http://www.patreon.com/frankippolito and you can make an ongoing pledge for the show. If you love the show, help us make more of it! More details on the show and at the Patreon. Finally, rate us on iTunes so more people can find the show.
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    The Day I Was That Odd Little Kid Again

    Most of you know that I love costumes. So it stands to reason that, for the MythBusters Dumpster Diving shoot in 2009, I was going to HAVE to dress up. The myth we were testing was whether a person who jumps from the roof of a building into a full dumpster could survive and run away like they do all the time in the movies.

    The episode had two parts, training and testing. For the training section I decided Jamie and I should wear sweatsuits with letters on them that said "stunt trainee."

    Courtesy of DCL

    For the second half, I decided to dress as Neo, Keanu Reeve's character from the The Matrix. Why? C'mon! I loved his long trench coat and his boots, and I especially thought it would look awesome on camera (particularly the high-speed) when I jumped down into the dumpster wearing them -- not unlike in the movie. Also as a boy I always wanted to dress up like an action hero.

    So that day I showed up on set feeling awesome ... until I got out of my car and the crew took one look at me in my Neo get-up, and could barely contain their snickering. I felt totally embarrassed.

    Norm's Favorite Collectibles of 2015

    We have one more favorite things video to kick off the new year! We've shared our favorite tools, gear, and tech from 2015, but here are our favorite collectibles from the past year. These are the figures that are going to live on our set in future videos!

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens SPOILERCAST - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 12/29/15
    It's finally here! Adam, Norm, and Will discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens in this extra-long Spoiler-filled episode of Still Untitled. We talk about our favorite scenes, theories about the characters, and things that surprised us. Let us know what you thought about the movie in the comments!
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    The Story Behind This Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Photo of Me and Tory Belleci

    As many of you know, I worked on Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. This photo is of Tory Belleci and me working on Attack of the Clones, and I thought I'd explain it a bit.

    This job, the making of the buildings of Tipoca City, was super fun and difficult. It was staffed by maybe one of the best teams of model-makers you could wish for: John Duncan, John Goodson, Tory Belleci, Dave Fogler, supervised by Brian Gernand. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. If that's so, I'm sorry.

    The big hero tower building I'm working on here was a mad three-week dash to finish. I came in late to the project but had the same end-date as everyone else, so I had to scramble. Once I was done, and all the buildings were finished, the incredible painters had their way with the models for a couple of weeks. The photo of Tory and me is actually one we call a "model shop reach." These models are completely done, yet it looks like Tory and I are still doing model-making with tools. In reality, we were asked by the ILM photographer to come back over to the set and make it look briefly like we were working on the models, when in reality our job was done two weeks before the painters did their thing.

    Fabricating the Stop-Motion Puppets in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    The Holochess animation Easter egg in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was truly a labor of love, and the team who made it used a variety of interesting technologies to create it. This week, we return to Tippett Studio to chat with this sequence's art director, visual effects supervisor, armaturist, and head puppet fabricator (our very own Frank Ippolito!) about the fabrication of these stop-motion puppets!