Latest StoriesMakers
    Teaser: Sculpting Lessons with Frank Ippolito!

    Here's a preview for a new video series we're starting on Tested! In a weeks time, effects artist Frank Ippolito will guide Will and Norm through the beginnings of clay sculpting. We've included links below to materials so you can follow along--the first video will be available for everyone and the rest for Tested Premium Members. To watch the whole series, sign up for a Tested premium membership here. (Supplies listed in the comments below).

    In Brief - Behind the Scenes of 'He Took His Skin Off For Me'

    You may have seen the new short film "He Took His Skin Off For Me", the story of a man who literally removes his skin to live with his girlfriend. The striking look of the main character was done all with practical makeup effects, and this 23 minute behind-the-scenes video is an excellent look at how the makeup was accomplished. The director and effects supervisor explain why they chose to go with a practical makeup--which required over a thousand sculpted and cast muscle applications--instead of CG, and how it serviced the performance. The short's website also has a step-by-step walkthrough of the makeup design and application process. Amazing.

    The Hyperreal Portraits of Kazuhiro Tsuji

    Last year, Major Pop visited the studios of makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji, whose hyperreal portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, and Dick Smith have been popular around the internet. Tsuji has worked in Hollywood on films like Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes and more recently on Joseph Gordon Levitt's makeup in Looper. His large-scale portrait sculpture work appears to be his real passion, and his pieces are on display at the Copro Gallery in Los Angeles.

    In Brief: Charles Young's Tiny Papercraft City

    Put the word miniature and papercraft together and you're going to perk my ears. Artist Charles Young has been working on a really neat ongoing miniature papercraft project called Paperholm, in which he builds a new house, tower, castle, farm, or other city structure every day using white cardstock. His buildings--many of which he animates for short looping videos--are apparently inspired by the photographs of industrial structures by Bernd and Hilla Becher. Young's papercraft creations also occasionally go on sale on his Etsy store. (h/t Wired)

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    Netherlands' Coat of Arms in Papercraft

    "I Will Maintain" is an artistic interpretation of Netherlands' Coat of Arms created with elevated papercraft. The project, which its creators say took six months to complete, is condensed in this time-lapse video showing the careful assembly of hundreds of individually cut pieces of paper mounted on the board with shortened matchsticks. The Behance gallery of photos documenting the project shows how intricately each of those pieces of paper are arranged so that the image of lion and sword look like it's floating. Beautiful!

    Inside Adam Savage's Cave: The Tarantino Shelf

    One of the shelves in Adam's cave is home to his collection of props and prop replicas from various Quentin Tarantino films. In today's visit to the Cave, we chat with Adam about each of those objects and their origins. How many do you recognize?

    Help Will and Frank Choose a Cosplay Costume!

    Will and Frank both have the same problem: the cosplay options for big bearded dudes is a little limited. They don't want to dress up as a Barf from spaceballs or Kevin Smith, and need your help choosing a costume to wear for this year's Comic-Con and Dragon*Con. Place your suggestions in the comments below and we'll pick the best one to make into a costume!

    How to Build a FPV Racing Quadcopter!

    After learning about the world of FPV quadcopter racing, we couldn't wait to build our own. With the help of Lumenier and FPV quadcopter flyer Charpu, we learn about all the components needed to build a solid mini racing quadcopter for under $850, camera and FPV goggle kit included. Charpu helps us assemble the quadcopter and gives useful tips for first-time builders. It's really not that difficult!

    Adam's Tour Diaries #21: A Gorgeous Little Town

    Dec. 12, 2014: I’m here to testify to the fact that Fayetteville, Ark., is a gorgeous little town. Really sweet. I woke up and had a couple of interviews. After some computing work, I headed out for a 90-minute walk around town. Like I said: Gorgeous!

    Fayetteville is full of buildings like this...
    … and windows like this ...
    … and manhole covers like this!

    I did an NPR interview in the morning with a woman named Antoinette Grajeda (you can listen to it here) and she told me about an awesome bookstore around the corner from the Walton Arts Center, where we were performing. I decided to go and I was NOT disappointed.

    How to Get Into Hobby RC: Building Foam Airplanes

    Electric airplanes made of molded foam are very popular in the RC world right now. While this class of airplanes used to be limited to small models with modest power, there is seemingly no limit to the size and power handling of modern “foamies”. Perhaps the largest contributor to their popularity is the marginal effort that’s required to assemble an attractive and nice-flying foam model. There are, however, some things to be aware of, and habits you should develop to court success with these aircraft. I recently assembled and flew a newly-released foamy to illustrate what I’m talking about.


    The Flitework Stearman

    The model that I used for this article is the Flitework PT-17 Stearman. It is a 1:8 scale model of the 1942 Boeing PT-17 that is owned and flown by The Flying Bulls in Austria. Most of the model is constructed of molded Expanded PolyOlefin (EPO) foam, a popular material for RC planes. This is a Receiver-Ready (RR) model, meaning that all of the control servos and power system components are included and installed. The user must provide a radio receiver and transmitter, as well as an appropriate battery to power the airplane.

    This was my first experience with a Flitework model. Overall, I would consider it a little above average among the current crop of RR foamies that I’ve seen. The mold quality of the foam components was excellent and the finish applied to the airplane was well executed. There is nothing worse than factory-applied trim schemes with sloppy paint overspray or crooked decals. I was happy that neither sin was displayed here.


    Despite my positive first impressions with this model, my unboxing inspection also revealed a few common shortcomings that I would need to address. The positive side of this is that the corrections were easily implemented and didn’t incur any extra cost. As I outline the basic assembly steps, I will cover those changes, as well as some tips and tricks that may not be intuitive.

    How I Edit Tested's One Day Builds

    This will be a weekly three-part behind the scenes series: Lighting, Shooting, and Editing.

    The production behind Adam's One Day Builds, are a good representation of the common challenges I'm faced with being a one-man production team at Tested. They're often long shooting days with tons of coverage, shot in a documentary format, meaning that we often shoot for spontaneity which in turn means that the at end of the day I'm coming back with hours of footage and steep shooting ratios: somewhere in between 20:1-30:1.

    A typical One Day Build Shoot, where I come back with hours of footage.

    One important key advantage I have in this series, despite shooting such high ratios, is that I'm shooting for myself. Meaning, this footage is coming back with me to the editing bay, where I'll then chop it up. As the camera operator, knowing how to shoot for the editor, me, allows me to edit the piece in my head, as I'm shooting. Which is huge.

    Most camera/editors will tell you how much easier it is to edit their own footage. You know your own quirks, you know what you were shooting at the time and where you were planning on placing that in the video. You know your own movements, and what kind of shots you were trying to get, and in my case, I know Adam. I know how he moves around the shop, about how long it takes him to bandsaw through some ply, screw in six wood screws, or sand a piece of material. I can shoot multiple angles of him working on one piece of his puzzle, only to edit and string them together to fake a multi-cam shoot--essentially to increase production value.

    Technical skills aside, one of the key requirements that come with the title job is to learn about the people you work with, and their mannerisms and style, so you can prepare properly, and compliment their style, with your own. Ultimately serving the final product.

    After watching the speed at which Adam works, and the precision of him working in his own workshop, I came to the conclusion that the One Day Builds should have a certain style to them: a chance to give the user the perspective of a fly in his workshop. Close intimate angles, camera movement to match Adam's movement, all cut to a slightly exaggerated pace; making sure that information is presented simultaneously, without jarring the audience or pulling them out of the perception of a live filming. It's about marrying the communication with the action, and doing so in an effective way.

    This brings me to my main two editing techniques for this kind of feature:

    Adam's Tour Diaries #20: On to Kansas City

    Dec. 11, 2014: In Kansas City, we had some press to do. Jamie felt a bit under the weather, so I had an early start and headed over to KSHB- 41 to appear on their morning show, Kansas City Live. They couldn’t have been nicer. I love seeing morning-show sets. I love how substantial they are aesthetically and insubstantial materially.

    The Kansas City Live set.

    Then the camera crew set up for my interview. Do I look tired here?

    I feel like I look tired.

    After the interview (which you can see here), it was time to do a little shopping. I do some juggling in our live show, and one of my beanbags sprung a leak, so I needed some new ones. Will, our tour manager, found me a place that supposedly had one of the “largest magic retail spaces in the country.” It was right over the border in Kansas.

    In Brief: Dayton Allen's Custom Alien Figures

    One of my favorite magazines growing up was Wizard's ToyFare, which in addition to reporting on new action figure releases, showcased the custom toy modifications and builds and sculptors who made their own figures. These makers could take a Punisher figure, for example, and swap out its head and paint job to make it a kick-ass Bullseye figures. Custom figure sculpts have come a long way since then, and the quality of figures like the ones made by artist Dayton Allen are just as good (if not better) than the sculpts done by toy companies. The Verge has a fun report on a project that Allen started in 2011, custom sculpting the entire cast of Ridley Scott's Alien--in addition to building out the Nostromo bridge and corridor sets for those 4-inch figures. Allen's Flickr gallery of his work in progress is awesome. Bookmark it! And if want to get your hands on your own Alien figure without making a custom sculpt, the NECA series of Nostromo spacesuit figures just went on sale last week!

    Adam's Tour Diaries #19: A Day of Writing and Research

    Dec 10. 2014: Sigh. Another day I didn’t leave the bus. After the feverish activity of Omaha (well, it certainly FELT feverish) I felt due for a day of simply writing and research. It was quite productive in its own way. Seriously: I got a lot done.

    When I finally DID make my way over to the Orpheum Theatre, I was graced with another lovely dressing room! I was reluctant to leave.

    I felt very comfortable here.

    But once onstage I had a phenomenal assistant.

    My on-stage assistant.

    You never quite know how someone will respond to being brought up onstage. For many, it seems like an AWESOME idea until they get up there, and then you can see it sink in: “Holy crap, look at all those people!” Not this girl, though. She was game and had a great sense of humor.