Latest StoriesMakers
    Time-lapse Refitting of an Airbus A380 Airliner

    Airline Emirates produced this time-lapse look at the refitting of an Airbus A380--the world's largest passenger airliner--for the 3-C maintenance check. The entire process, which includes taking out over 1,600 components from inside the cabin and engine pylons, is documented in this awe-inspiring video. Bonus: this time-lapse of the six month process of building two massive oil production platforms is equally impressive.

    In Brief: Three Intriguing Things about Interstellar

    We discussed Chris Nolan's Interstellar on the last episode of Still Untitled, but here's further reading and watching if you want to learn more about the interesting post-production challenges of the film. On the audio side, The Soundworks Collection profiles supervising sound editor and sound designer Richard King about the foley work done on the film to meet Nolan's exacting standards. The sound of trucks being driven through cornfields is just as thoughtfully recorded the imagine sound of a spacecraft flying through a wormhole. Next up is a report by Director Jim Hemphill about his experience watching Interstellar in all six of its projection formats: 70mm, 70mm IMAX, digital IMAX, 35mm, 4K digital, and 2K digital. His findings are pretty surprisingly--the size of film or the resolution that it's projected isn't the only factor determining the viewing experience. And finally, Wired (who is being guest edited by Nolan this month) has a short story about the physical IMAX film platters needed to project Interstellar.

    Tested: The Show — Jamie Hyneman's Racing Spiders Project

    Jamie takes the stage at our live show to introduce his Racing Spiders project, an experiment in implementing a new linkage system that has never been tested before. Instead of individual motors responsible for each of the mechanical spider's legs, Jamie's design is powered by just two motors. The movement is mesmerizing!

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Driving Rock Crawlers

    RC cars are supposed to be fast. Even if you’re not racing, the whole idea is to be speedy, right? Whether you’re slinging dirt or tearing down the street, you should be doing it like you’re on fire. That opinion does not stem from some unquenchable need for speed (I like slow airplanes). The main factor is that I require a challenge in order to enjoy RC…and where’s the challenge in driving a slow car? This mentality is what kept me away from RC rock crawlers for so long, despite their huge popularity. These are cars that are slow, sometimes really slow, on purpose. Hmm, no thanks.

    On the other hand, this column is all about exploring every aspect of RC. So I couldn’t very well ignore rock crawlers forever. With only marginal excitement, I obtained a rock crawler and endeavored to find out what all the fuss is about. I can tell you now that I’m really glad I took the plunge. Despite their pedestrian speeds, I found that these vehicles offer unique challenges of their own.

    What is a Rock Crawler?

    As the name implies, rock crawlers are designed to climb rocks and rough terrain that other RC cars can’t handle. Crawling has expanded over the years to include more than just negotiating rock piles. These days, the term “crawler” encompasses technical rock crawlers, rock racers, and trail rigs.

    Technical rock crawling is all about getting your vehicle over impossible obstacles. This activity is filled with radical, purpose-built machines. Rock racing is actually a full-scale racing sport in addition to RC. There are different aspects of rock racing, but the gist is that it combines elements of offroad speed as well as ridiculous obstacles (and mud, and noise). Trail rigs can still climb like a mountain goat, but they aren’t competition machines. They’re more about cruising with friends. Many trail rig drivers like to deck out their rides with scale details and drive them in places that normal RC cars dare not go.

    Tested: The Show — A Story in 256 Pixels

    As the resolution and pixel density of digital screens are skyrocketing, we take a step back to appreciate the artistry of telling a story with the limitations of 8-bit graphics. Jeremy Williams celebrates the history and potential of pixel art in this presentation from our live show! (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: The Show — Cooking with Cricket Flour

    For our live show in San Francisco, Megan Miller of Bitty Foods gave a presentation about the possibilities of cricket flour--cooking and baking with flour made with insects. Here's why that's not such a strange idea, and how the idea can have an impact on the way we think about food production for a growing global population. (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.)

    Making of Benedict Cumberbatch's Wax Statue

    In the past two months, we've showcased several examples of excellent sculpting work: Frank Ippolito's sculpture for the Farnsworth Project, Immortal Masks' sculpts for silicone masks, and Mike Hill's lifelike portraits of horror actors. But we haven't explored the sculptural work done for wax statues, like the ones made famous by Madame Tussauds galleries. It turns out that the artists at Madame Tussauds document the making of new figures in their collection, and this new making-on video for Benedict Cumberbatch's wax figure is fascinating to watch.

    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!)

    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.