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    Weta Workshop Booth Tour at Comic-Con 2017!

    We hit the floor at San Diego Comic-Con to visit a few of our friends, starting with the artists at Weta Workshop. Weta brought costumes they built for films like the new Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings, and Netflix's Spectral. We chat with costume tech Darin Gordine about the making of these pieces and how costume fabrication has changed in the studio's storied history.

    Adam Savage Incognito as King Arthur at Comic-Con 2017!

    Adam fulfills his lifelong dream of becoming King Arthur from the film Excalibur at San Diego Comic-Con! This year's costume is a full suit of armor from Excalibur, made by legendary armorer Terry English who made all the armor for the film. Adam spent over a week at Terry's shop assisting with this build, culminating in this beautiful shiny suit that's surprisingly comfortable to move in!

    Making The Lich King Armor for Blizzard!

    Frank shows us his amazing Lich King armor that he made for Blizzard's Hearthstone Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. This project allowed Frank and his team to take cosplay to a new level, combining clay sculpting, large-scale 3d printing, smoke effects, and chroming to make our jaws drop. Just look at that Frostmourne sword!

    Modeling the Boat from ‘Apocalypse Now’, Part 1

    Right out of the box, the Alpha Patrol Boat from ProBoat Models is a nicely-detailed rendition of a Vietnam-era patrol boat. Commonly called the PBR (Patrol Boat, River), these vessels were fast, nimble, and heavily-armed. Their water-jet propulsion system allowed them to venture into shallow waters that were inaccessible for most other military boats.

    Perhaps the most widely-recognized PBR is the one that serves as the primary setting in 'Apocalypse Now'. It is certainly a focal element of the movie. So when I decided to add more details to my model PBR, emulating the Erebus was an easy decision.

    Let me be clear: this is not a tutorial on how to create a museum-quality PBR model. I'm far from qualified to write that kind of how-to article. In fact, I had never actually detailed and weathered a RC boat before this project. So, modeling the Erebus provided an avenue to experiment and expand my skills. Some things worked out well, while others did not. My goal is simply to provide a recap of my experiences that may help you decide what techniques could be applied to your next project.

    Making a Star Wars Battlefront 2 Inferno Squad Helmet!

    Recently, we had the opportunity to make a replica prop helmet from EA's upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2. Frank walks us through the steps to fabricate and finish it in his shop, based off of in-game reference. The Inferno Squad Commander helmet belongs to Iden Versio, played by actress Janina Gavankar, and we were able to surprise Janina with it at D23!

    The Visual Effects of War for the Planet of the Apes

    War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this weekend, and by most accounts, the film is a triumph (93% fresh on RottenTomatoes). I'm really excited to see it on the big screen, since it was shot in 65mm to explicitly showcase the film's landscapes and larger-than-life sets. We were on one of those sets over a year and a half ago, while the film was in mid-production. Fox invited us out to visit the shoot, on a massive outdoor prison built a few miles away from Vancouver. The Canadian winter was an ideal backdrop for this sprawling snowy set, which had its own set of railroad tracks, grungy barracks, and a towering battle-worn wall that separates soldier and simian.

    The enormity and tangibility of this built-out world stands in contrast to the film's computer-generated heroes--this Planet of the Apes trilogy has anchored itself in its ability to meld the real and the digital. Actors like Andy Serkis and Steve Zahn do their best to give performances in tight-fitting performance-capture suits, but their performance is really a collaboration with the animators and special effects artists who turn mo-cap data into the characters you see on screen. On set, we sat in a roundtable interview with visual effects producer Ryan Stafford, who worked with director Matt Reeves and the effects team at Weta Digital to realize the digital characters and environments in the film. Here are some highlights from that conversation.

    On compositing live and CG characters

    Every time we do a shot, we do it in a variety of ways. On a traditional movie, you set up the camera, you set up your characters, you roll, get the performances you want, and you move on. Well, when we get the performances we want, we say "great, let's do that again without the actors." So we pull the actors out of the shot and we replicate the camera move as closely as possible using motion control and a lot of other tricks to get it as accurate as possible. And then we run the whole take "clean"--and if there's a human character in it, then they have to act to nothing. Sometimes we put a piece of tape up with fishing wire, and that's their eye line. And they have to re-enact the entire performance to nothing, to thin air, to a piece of tape.

    The apes proportions--their anatomy--are different from humans. It's very close. We've made Caesar just a few inches shorter than Andy Serkis. And the build is similar. But where his joints are are different than Andy's. His arms are much longer. His legs are shorter, his chest is more barreled. So when we put Caesar on top of Andy in the shot, there's a lot of Andy left. And we have to paint that out. Painting out things is very expensive, it's very labor intensive, it's very complex, especially when you have very dynamic camera movements. So we do it all on a clean plate in hopes that it's as dynamic as with the actors in it so we don't have to paint anything out.

    We use both. It's kind of a mixed bag. Our ideal scenario is a clean plate but we have maybe a 60% success rate with that. We still have to do a lot of cleanup with actors still in the shot. That's mostly performance driven. The reality is that you're going to get a better performance from a human character when they're acting against someone else in frame. Particularly Andy, who has such a great presence, you get a much different experience than if someone's acting against thin air. In those instances, we take the clean plate, and use that information to do an overlay, try to get as much information, and steal as information as we can.

    Photo Gallery: "Into the Unknown" Science Fiction Exhibition

    I've raved about the Barbican center's current science fiction exhibit, "Into the Unknown", which chronicles the storied history of science fiction through literature, art, film, and popular culture. The exhibit features a breathtaking number of artifacts, from movie props and costumes to original concept art and vintage ephemera. Here are some of my favorite pieces from the show, which feels more like a World's Fair exhibit than a museum gallery. I can't recommend it enough, if you find yourself in London between now and Sept 1st!

    Bendy Bonnie Morgan Bends In - Episode 72 -7/14/17
    Today, Frank and Len welcome Bonnie Morgan. Bonnie is a talented actress, a daring stunt woman and an extraordinary contortionist who is probably best known for her role as the weirdly contorted Samara from The Ring Two and Rings 3. Her acting and stuntwork has been featured in such films as Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Men In Black 2 where she played a character called Jabba The Butt. She is also the first guest who can legitmately say she was raised by circus performers. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks. We truly appreciate your support!
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    3D Printing Molds for Silicone Masks!

    We're in Frank's new shop to check out his testing of the 3D Platform printer! This commercial-grade printer alows him to make massive 3D prints that are beyond what's possible with home printers, including swords, armor, and even large molds for casting. One experiment Frank has been working on is printing molds for hyperrealistic silicone masks!

    Peter Abrahamson <3's Robots - Episode 71 -7/7/17
    On this episode, Frank and Len talk to Peter Abrhamson. Peter is a special effects pro, an animatronic technician and a puppeteer who hs worked on such shows as I, Robot, HellBoy and Van Helsing just to name a few. He has his own company called Ronin FX and currently works at Applied Invention which has allowed him to dabble in a little something called robotics - including a little show called Battlebots. We are talk about David Lynch and of course, Legos! If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks. We truly appreciate your support!
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    Adam Savage Visits Black Girls Code Workshop

    Adam Savage visits a workshop for Black Girls Code, an organization teaching young girls coding concepts through creative projects that spark their curiosity. This video is a partnership with Acer and Black Girls Code. Acer is committed to partnering with education institutions and organizations like ours to provide technology designed to engage, empower, and enable the next generation. Learn more at (a href="">

    Laser Cutting the Maker Puzzle, Part 2

    Sean and Jeremy use cut and assemble the second piece of Jen Schacter's maker puzzle! Using the office's Universal Laser Systems laser cutter, Sean experiments with cutting different materials to remix the puzzle with accents and a metallic finish. Find the files to make your own here!

    Chinbeard Is In The House - Episode 70 - 6/30/17
    Today, Frank and Len talk to our mutual friend and incredible pro fabricator Bill Doran AKA Chinbeard from Punished Props. Bill continues the discussion about working in cosplay professionally and the joys and pitfalls of doing it all on your own to make a living. It's great info you can't miss. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks. We truly appreciate your support!
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    Celebrating National Week of Making, Day 7: Michael Giacchino

    Composer and friend of Tested Michael Giacchino joins us to wrap up our celebration of the National Week of Making! Michael shares some of the things he made in his youth to pay tribute to his favorite films, and how that led him to writing music for TV shows and films. Find out more about the National Week of Making and events here!