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    Thomas Richner's Cardbard Millennium Falcon Model

    Several of you sent this link our way, and it definitely deserves the love. Thomas Richner, an Associate Professor at Columbus College of Art and Design, spent two months building a large scale replica of the Millennium Falcon out of excess cardboard found in his basement. According to his build log, the goal of the two-month project was to replicate the five-foot shooting model of the Falcon used in Episode IV, with as much detail as possible. Greeblie placement took the most work, and details were inspired by both a Kenner Toy and photo references of the Pinewood production. I love the color work on the cardboard panels and the tiny relief details that give it distinct light profiles from different angles. After completion, Richner took his model to a green screen set at Columbus College for a lovely photo shoot. I can't emphasize how important it is to show off your projects with a thoughtful photo shoot afterwards--it goes a long way to helping people appreciate it, and is half the fun!

    Photo credit: Thomas Richner

    You can see all of Thomas' photos from his amazing build in this Imgur gallery. (h/t Reddit and several Tested readers).

    Jason Freeny: No One Teaches You How to Be an Artist

    One of my favorite things about our trip to New York last year was being able to meet and interview pop artist Jason Freeny at his home workshop. Freeny, who is well known in the designer toy community for his unique "plastic surgery" sculptures showing the anatomy of toy characters, is featured here in this short video produced by Nuvango (formerly Gelaskins). It's a great little piece showcasing the art and giving us more insight into Jason's process.

    Image Gallery: Nicholas Acosta's Cinerama Visualizations

    Artist Nick Acosta shares with us his Cinerama stitches imagining the original Star Trek in epic scale, but has also created visualizations from other sci-fi favorites, including Battlestar Galactica, Airwolf, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Those images debuted at our live show, but here they are again in full resolution. They make great tablet wallpapers! (Bonus: you should also check out Nick's explorations in video editing, in which he recuts, rescores, and mashes up classic shows like Dr. Who.)

    Tested: The Show — Star Trek in Cinerama

    On October 25th, we put on our first ever stage show in San Francisco, featuring friends and makers from our community. The first presentation was given by graphic designer Nick Acosta, who imagines how classic science fiction television shows would have looked like if they were shot in epic Cinerama widescreen. (We apologize for some of the rough audio in this taping of our live show. The audio mixer at the venue unfortunately distorted audio from some of the microphones.)

    Tested Mailbag: One for Each of Us

    It's time for another edition of the Tested mailbag--do the mailbag dance! Five packages arrive at our office, sent all the way from Sweden. They're individually labeled for Will, Norm, Adam, and Jamie, so we tear open the ones for us and examine the contents. Neat stuff within!

    Photo Gallery: The Making of the Farnsworth Project

    We visited Frank's shop back in early October to watch him work on the sculpt for the Farnsworth project, which differs from the Zoidberg project because it's a prosthetics-based makeup, not a mask that anyone can wear. Here are photos from our shop visit, a close-up look at the silicone prosthetics, and the Farnsworth reveal at our live show.

    Real-Life Professor Farnsworth from Futurama!

    Good news, everyone! After creating the lifelike Zoidberg costume for us earlier this year, effects artist Frank Ippolito takes on another makeup challenge from the world of Futurama. This time, it's Professor Farnsworth! Watch Frank bring the professor to life with sculpting, molding, and casting of prosthetics, and then applying the makeup on an actor to unveil at the Tested stage show! (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!)

    How To Fly and Tweak a Budget Mini Quadcopter

    Anyone who has been following this column will know that I am not a fan of gamepad-like transmitters for quadcopters (or any other RC vehicle, for that matter). From a practical standpoint, these off-nominal controllers may not teach you the fine movements and muscle memory that will be needed when you transition to a standard transmitter. Cramped controllers may even cause you to learn things incorrectly. In the aerospace business, we called that “negative training”, and it’s a bad thing.

    Bad habits notwithstanding, I typically find micro-sized transmitters that come with entry-level mini-quads just plain uncomfortable to use. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to standard transmitters. Maybe I have freakishly large, ape-like hands. Whatever the root of my distaste for tiny controllers may be, I try to steer clear of them. Sometimes, however, they find me. But that doesn't mean I'm stuck with them!

    I recently received a review sample of the Dromida Kodo mini quadcopter. It is marketed as a budget-friendly quad with a built-in photo/video camera. My initial impressions of the Kodo were positive. It shares a similar footprint and many features with the Heli-Max 1SQ, the model that got me into quads (you never forget your first).

    I have to be careful about making comparisons between the Kodo and the 1SQ. They are indeed similar in several ways. The Kodo, however, is less than half the price of its closest 1SQ cousin, the 1SQ V-cam. Those very different price points ($59.00 and $129.99 respectively) are bound to result in different machines. But let's start by looking at what you get with the Kodo.

    How to Make a Two-Part Mold (of a Lightsaber!)

    Frank Ippolito joins us at Adam's shop for another step-by-step tutorial in prop making. This time, we learn how to make a two-part silicone mold that we can use to cast resin copies of complex objects. We demonstrate the technique by duplicating a lightsaber prop made by Adam! It's not that difficult! (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!)

    Pixar Explains the Math Behind Smooth Character Rendering

    Ready to give your brain a little workout? See if you can follow along in this Numberphile video as Tony DeRose of Pixar Research explains some of the mathematics behind the rendering and animation of characters in modern CG films. It went over my head at around the five-minute mark, but the gist is that the use of certain math principles and algorithms let rendering programs subdivide vertices in geometry for smooth curves and surfaces. Computer scientists know this as the Catmull-Clark algorithm.

    In Brief: Photo Gallery of Ray Harryhausen at Work

    io9 has a lovely gallery of photos showing stop-motion effects pioneer and legend Ray Harryhausen at work on some of the films he's best known for: Mighty Joe Young, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen, who passed away last year, inspired a generation of effects artist and animators, including still-active legends like Phil Tippet. The gallery is accompanied by a few video clips of the finished animation sequences, some behind-the-scenes interviews, and a great time-lapse GIF of a veteran Harryhausen revisiting an iconic skeleton puppet from Jason and the Argonauts for a stop-motion demo.

    Show and Tell: 3D Printed Steampunk Octopod

    One final video from Norm's recent trip to New York! Sean Charlesworth, our 3D printing expert, shares his famous steampunk octopod project, which we've talked about before had never seen in person. It's a wonderfully designed and intricate model entirely conceived of and built by Sean--a project much more complex than your typical 3D printed piece.

    NYU's Interactive Wooden Mirror Project

    One of the coolest places Norm visited on his recent trip to New York was the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. ITP is a graduate program that explores creative ways to combine technology and art--essentially a maker space that can get you a Masters degree in making awesome things. One of those things is this Interactive Wooden Mirror, created by ITP professor Daniel Rozin.

    The Terminator and the Legacy of Stan Winston's Designs

    With photos and story details of the upcoming Terminator reboot coming to light, we wanted to take a look back at the original film and examine how and why it still holds up after all these years. Like a lot of movies that became cultural touchstones and phenomenons, The Terminator was under-estimated, dismissed by Orion Pictures as a low budget drive-in film that would come and go in a week. Yet The Terminator became a major sleeper that connected with audiences in a big way. It was the top movie at the box office for six weeks, but beyond its commercial success it also made Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, and Stan Winston superstars in their respective professions.

    At a screening celebrating The Terminator’s third decade, Cameron said the movie is still remembered because “I think it’s just a lean, mean thriller that works.” But there’s clearly more to it that than. In celebrating The Terminator, we spoke to John Rosengrant and Shane Mahan of Legacy Effects, who both broke into the big leagues by working with Stan Winston, and who helped build the indestructible killer, and the seemingly indestructible franchise, from the ground up.

    It was thanks to the kindness of make-up master Dick Smith that Stan Winston got The Terminator gig. Smith, who many considered the greatest living make-up artist, was well-known for the magic he did for The Godfather, The Exorcist, and Amadeus, just to name a few, but his career was winding down, and The Terminator was clearly going to be a big job.

    Cameron wanted Smith, but Smith kept telling the young director that Stan Winston was the man for the job. Winston had been steadily working for years, he did a lot of TV and low budget B-movies, and had already won two Emmys, but The Terminator would prove to be the big breakthrough that made him one of the most in demand creature builders in the business. (Cameron and Winston would also form a strong personal and professional bond that would continue until Winston passed away in 2008.)

    Watch Adam Interviewed for the Inquiring Minds Podcast

    During last week's Bay Area Science Festival, which our live show was a part of, the Inquiring Minds podcast visited Adam in the Cave to interview him about a variety of topics, including Mythbusters, education, science communication, teaching, modelmaking, and maker culture. Adam also talks about being a generalist and developing content for TV and web that's interesting for him--Tested gets a few nice shoutouts! You can also read a recap of the conversation on Mother Jones.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Tools for Your Workshop

    No matter what facet of radio control modeling that you’re into, you are going to have to work on your vehicles from time to time. Even if you buy pre-built models, you will eventually find occasion to perform maintenance, make repairs, add hop-ups, or maybe just crack something open to see how it works. Although there is a range of specialized tools needed for some RC-related jobs, a modest selection of common tools will suffice most of the time. If you own a set of tools for household chores, you may already have much of what you’ll need. Let’s take a look at the core tools that are necessary as you enter the RC hobby.



    Most RC applications use Phillips head screws, so you will want to have a set of screwdrivers that includes #0, #1, and #2 size bits at a minimum. All tools are not created equal and you generally get what you pay for. So, don’t skimp on crummy dollar-store stuff that is better suited for use as prison shivs. I’m not saying that you need high-dollar tools. A basic 8-piece set of Phillips and slotted screwdrivers from Craftsman costs about $15 and will cover most of your needs.

    All of the top-dollar tools in the world are worthless if you don’t use the proper driver for a given screw.

    You may find that you need smaller screwdrivers from time to time. The smaller a fastener is, the more important it is to use a quality driver with a precision tip. I generally prefer the small drivers made by Wiha.

    This is probably a good time to point out the primary reason for mangled screw heads: laziness. All of the top-dollar tools in the world are worthless if you don’t use the proper driver for a given screw. I know it’s easy to talk yourself into using whatever tool is already in your hand. Just keep in mind that a short walk to the toolbox may save you a lot of frustration dealing with a stripped a screw head.

    In Brief: Adam's Talk at the Wired by Design Conference

    Last month, Adam spoke at Wired's inaugural live magazine event, Wired by Design, sharing the story of how he fell in love with prop-making. The video of that talk is now online at Wired. In the 20 minute presentation, Adam chronicles his early replica propmaking, from Mission Impossible gadgets to cardboard armor inspired by Excalibur. He covers some of the projects we've shown here on Tested, like his Blade Runner Blaster and ZF-1, but also reveals an in-progress piece that you may see more of here in the future!

    Norman 1