For our final video from this year's Star Wars Celebration, we check out the first vehicle prop replica to come out of The Force Awakens: Rey's Speeder that was seen in the very first teaser trailer. It was constructed by the 501st Belgian Garrison, using some film production information provided by Lucasfilm!
We meet up with prop builders Mike McMaster, Gordon Tarpley, and Max Cervantes, who worked together to build an awesome 1:1 replica of a Sandcrawler tread from Star Wars for this year's Celebration. The build team explains how they completed the project in just a few weeks, making this wonderful backdrop for the droids and Jawas they've also built!
Regardless of whether you thought Chris Nolan's Interstellar was a good movie or not, it was undeniably beautiful in its depiction of space and space travel. The recent Blu-Ray release of the film included a 70mm IMAX film cell with each copy, and buyers have begun sharing what cells they've received on Reddit and in AV forum threads. One awesome thing that's come out of it is users who've put their collectible IMAX cells under archival-grade optical scanners, like this Reddit user. His Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED is able to scan a cell at 4000dpi, producing an image that's 16000x8000 in uninterpolated resolution. Plenty big for wallpapers or for printing out for home framing. The 200MP scans end up being over 100MB each in JPEG form, and over a gigabyte each uncompressed. Check them out!3
A YouTube channel that doesn't get enough love is Academy Originals--interviews and short behind-the-scenes pieces produced by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Most recently, I've binged-watched their "Behind the Scene" series, where effects supervisors recount the task of staging and producing memorable set pieces from films old and new. Here, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom's Geroge Gibbs explains how his production team blew up the bridge in the film's climax. Other shorts from the channel worth watching: Edge of Tomorrow's Paris crash, an explanation of color grading, and a look at Rick Backer's make-up effects collection.
All this week, we're at America's Test Kitchen! To kick off our visit, Christopher Kimball gives us a tour of their food laboratories, where a small army of test cooks experiment with recipes all day long. We learn about the Test Kitchen's approach to doing everything in-house, from producing their TV show and publishing Cooks Illustrated. Stay tuned for more from this awesome trip!
What happens when you give 90 artists the same blank Star Wars toy and tell them to make it their own? That's what Sideshow Collectibles did with their R2-ME2 project, which produced these amazing custom toy modifications based off of a sixth-scale R2-D2 astromech. We get up close with these beautiful pieces that take inspiration from every corner of pop culture.
A week ago, attendees at Star Wars Celebration got the first glimpse of the first Star Wars Anthology film, named Rogue One. Director Gareth Edwards revealed that the film would be about the theft of the Death Star plans before the events of Episode IV, and showed a short teaser clip created by ILM specifically for the announcement. The clip, which has yet to be officially released by Lucasfilm (but for which bootleg copies were immediately uploaded to YouTube), showed the massive Death Star looming over the horizon of a forested planet. AICN writer and professional astronomer used screencaps of that footage to calculate the physics of that shot to assess it's "realism", and was subsequently contacted by effects legend John Knoll to walked through ILM's thinking behind that shot. Knoll's explanation is wonderfully geeky, and shows how much thought effects artists and engineers put into their work, beyond just the "wow" factor. It's the very best of sci-fi apologetics, from the behind-the-scenes technicians closest to canon. (h/t Gary Whitta)
The Tribeca Film Festival just wrapped up over the weekend, and we're beginning to see video clips and excerpts from the Directors Series of interviews held there. First off, Stephen Colbert interviewed George Lucas about his career and approach to filmmaking, including Lucas' affinity for experimental films (of which Star Wars was one). Brad Bird, whose second live-action film Tomorrowland comes out this summer, discussed animation and his on-hiatus 1906 project. And True Detective season one director Cary Fukunaga talked about projects for Netflix and why he's adapting Stephen King's It. For Bay Area residents, this year's San Francisco International Film Festival just kicked off with a tribute to Guillermo Del Toro, and I hope that clips from that interview will make its way online soon!
The largest privately-owned collection of Star Wars memorabilia is housed at Rancho Obi-Wan, where Steve Sansweet has been hunting rare and unique pieces for over 35 years. We chat with Steve about trends in collectibles and the rise of fan-created artifacts inspired by the Star Wars saga.
We were surprised and delighted to find that Stormtroopers from the new Star Wars film attended Celebration Anaheim in force! Anovos, makers of officially licensed sci-fi costumes and armor, worked with Lucasfilm to equip members of the 501st legion with the new suits. We get up close with these replicas and learn how they differ from both The Force Awakens' filming costumes and the classic trilogy Stormtrooper armor.
At Star Wars Celebration, Prop Store had on display some incredible pieces of original props and costumes from the Star Wars films. We chat with Stephen Lane to learn about some of these items, including an original TIE-Fighter pilot's helmet, Leia's ceremonial dress, and hand props. Plus, post a comment below and we'll pick a few people to win auction catalogs!
Editor's note: Bill Doran makes armor, costumes, and space guns as Punished Props, and has written a series of books teaching foam armorsmithing. Bill recently stopped by the Tested office to drop off a few small figures he made, and shares how he made them in this guest article.
I've had this idea noodling around in the back of my head for quite some time. Since I was going to be swinging by the Tested office this month, I figured it would be a great time to knock out this quick little project: miniature figurines of Will and Norm's blockhead characters.
I had less than a day to build these guys from scratch, so most of my build decisions were based on whether or not I would have to wait for things to dry or cure. From start to finish, this entire build took less than 8 hours.
I started by planning out the sizing on all of the figure pieces based on a screen cap from the Tested website. I measured out all of the sides of each piece and prepped my material.
I ended up going with a high density, urethane tooling foam for this build. I wanted something that was easy to cut and shape, but was banking on not needing to fill, prime, and sand the surface at all, since that would add too much time to the build. This particular foam is so dense that it feels like stone! I got it from a company called 5 Axis a while back. They used to sell their off cuts on eBay.
This is an unbelievable deal. Anovos, an official Lucasfilm licensee for Stormtrooper helmets and costumes, announced after Celebration that they are offering an Original Trilogy Stormtrooper suit as a kit for $350. That's with the helmet included. This is a departure from the full suits that Anovos also sells for $1200, and the pricing is only valid until May 4th. Afterward, kits go up to $650, and completed ensembles will retail for $1600. The catch is the kit ships at the end of the year. It comes with a completed helmet, holster, belt, body suit, and neck seal, but you'll have to clean-up the plastic pieces and assemble the armor to the arming suit. This sounds like a really great opportunity for a fun project and build, especially if you want to customize your own armor (eg. zombie Stormtroopers). We're definitely on board to build it out. Selling their costumes as kits is something I hope they'll do with their other costumes as well, especially since Anovos also has the rights to make the new Stormtrooper armor from Episode VII.16
We meet up with modelmaker Steve Neisen to geek out over his new studio scale replicas of ships, droids, and mechs from Star Wars! Steve has spent years hunting down the original model kit components that the ILM modelshop used for the filming miniatures, and the resulting Y-Wing, Imperial Probe Droid, AT-ST, and Tantive IV Escape Pod look incredible!
What does it take to build a life-size Rancor from Star Wars? Roxy the Rancor was birthed from lots of meticulous foam sculpting and painting, as we learn from Matt Paisley at Star Wars Celebration. The beast attends conventions and events, raising money for charity. We get up close with Roxy and see her new face revealed!
Science Friday visits jAdis, a prop shop in Santa Monica that caters to the weird science props needs of filmmakers: "The movie prop shop Jadis, in Santa Monica, California, is packed with ancient, long-forgotten technology: an Edison dictaphone, a typewriter-like counting machine and quack medical devices like the 'Hemodimagnometer.' But you might recognize some of these oddities--they've appeared in movies like The Mystery Men, The X-Files, and The Prestige." I'd love to visit this place the next time I'm in Santa Monica!
We spent the weekend at Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm's official Star Wars convention. Thousands of Star Wars fans gathered to see new footage from Episode VII revealed and revel in their love for the films--many in fantastic cosplay. Here's some of the coolest stuff we found, including props and costumes from The Force Awakens, Star Wars Battlefront gameplay, and collectibles as far as the eye could see. Check out more photos here!
From Motherboard: "When NYU's Professor Maurizio Porfiri looks at fish, he sees more than just a bunch of aquatic animals - he sees an animal that could someday replace the rat as the key to better studying and understanding human and animal behaviors in laboratory research. But fish can be unpredictable, which is why Porfiri has dedicated his life's work to building the ultimate robotic fish." Read more about Porfiri's research here.