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    In-Depth: Replicating 'The Shining's' Overlook Maze Model

    Adam Savage's replica of The Overlook Maze model from The Shining is one of his more complex projects in recent memory, given the timetable required for the build and the sheer amount of focused work needed for it. Adam, Will, and Norm sit down to discuss the planning and execution of the replica, running through Adam's research, in-progress photos, and documentation. Be sure to first watch the full video showing off the project!

    Photo Gallery: Adam Savage's Overlook Hotel Maze Model

    A few photos from the build, as well as the pictures from our photo session before shipping Adam's Overlook Maze model off to the next stop of the <a href="http://www.stanleykubrick.de/en/ausstellungstour-exhibition-on-tour/">Stanley Kubrick travelling exhibition</a> in Mexico!

    Adam Savage's Overlook Hotel Maze Model

    Over the span of a month, Adam designed and built an accurate replica of the hedge maze architectural model from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The maze model, as seen in The Overlook Hotel, is only seen briefly, but reference screenshots from throughout the film allowed Adam to painstakingly recreate it. The project ended up as one of Adam's more labor-intensive builds in recent memory! (Watch our follow-up in-depth discussion of this maze build here.)

    Building the Academy Awards LEGO Oscar

    One thing we forgot to mention in yesterday's podcast about the recent Academy Awards ceremony was the use of LEGO Oscars during The LEGO Movie musical performance. LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya, who we've previously interviewed, designed and built those statuettes for the show, and posted this short time-lapse video of the build on his YouTube channel. This video is brief, but you can see Sawaya using glue to bond the pieces together--something he does for all his sculptures for stability and durability. And for those of you who want to build your own LEGO Oscar, the kit is now up for voting on the LEGO Ideas website.

    Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 3: The Test

    It's an exercise in troubleshooting as Jamie and the Kernerworks crew try various last-minute tweaks to the not-quite-operational spiders in order to make them race-ready the next day. For additional behind-the-scenes footage, Jamie's original build notes and project photos, click here.

    The Practical Special Effects of Robocop

    I'm not sure about the origins of this featurette (it may have been for an old DVD release in the late 90s or early 2000s) but it's an awesome behind-the-scenes look at the practical effects produced for the original Robocop. Interviews with matte painter Rocco Gioffre, designer Craig Hayes (who built ED-209), production designer William Sandell, and of course animator Phil Tippett paint a comprehensive picture of the production process. There's some interesting insight into how these artists didn't just employ techniques like matte paintings and stop-motion animation, they invented some in-camera innovations just for the film. (h/t Reddit)

    The Costuming Secrets of Samurai Armor

    We visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to explore a massive collection of Samurai Armor. The exhibition featured over 100 pieces of samurai equipment, from beautiful full suits of armor to the more obscure pieces of battle gear. We chat with the exhibit curator to learn about how ceremonial samurai armor was treated as costume, and the interesting secrets of a few pieces on display.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Racing Quad Buyer's Guide

    Back in December, we put together an overview of ready-to-fly quad-rotors. I intended to follow that article with a similar piece that focused on racing quads. It quickly became apparent, however, that racing quads are a very different kind of beast and would require an altered form of presentation. What I provide here is a beginner's buyers guide for aspiring quad racers. I’ll cover the components that you’ll need, some of the different equipment options, and a few recommended retailers for you to get started.

    Before We Get Start

    It should be noted that racing quads are not for beginners. They are small, fast, and maneuverable. Those traits are what make racing quads fun, but they also exaggerate the difficult aspects of learning to fly multi-rotors. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that racing quads are rather expensive as well. You can easily spend $1000 for all of the equipment that you’ll need to get started.

    I’ve preached my suggested route for beginners several times, so I won’t repeat it here. I’m just starting to explore racing quads myself, so I’m hardly qualified to make any skill-level recommendations. However, I can say that I would personally feel uneasy about trying racing quads if I didn’t already have significant experience flying slower quads outdoors (without GPS aids) and with First Person View (FPV) gear.

    Most modern racing quads are in the 250mm class, although it isn’t uncommon to find models ranging from 230-270mm. This measurement denotes the distance between the propeller shaft of a front rotor and the propeller shaft of the rear motor on the opposite side. At less than 10”, a 250mm racing quad is rather small compared to a DJI Phantom 2 or Blade 350 QX. In fact, they are only slightly larger than many of the beginner-oriented mini-quads. The difference is that racing quads pack a lot more relative power into a very small footprint.


    In general, racing quads are offered as kits that must be assembled. Some vendors offer only specific components such as frames or motors. Other shops provide everything you’ll need in one box. In a few instances you will find stores that offer pre-built and flight tested racing quads. Keep in mind that quad racing is a contact sport, so crashes and repairs are inevitable. This spawns two schools of thought regarding pre-built racers. On one hand, the education and familiarity provided by building your quad will be useful assets when the time comes to fix it. On the other hand, going pre-built removes the variables posed by rookie set-up blunders. Choose your poison.

    Before shopping for a racing quad, I suggest that you seek out other quad flyers in your area. See what equipment they are using and what works for them. Having access to someone with first-hand experience is one of the best ways to sort through the overwhelming array of options. Locals can also help you clear any hurdles you may experience during the build and set up of your racer.

    Photo Gallery: Assembling and Painting the 1/6th Scale Figure Kit

    Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the most recent One Day Build at Adam's shop, where Adam and Norm each assembled and painted a garage kit. They took very different approaches to the paint job as well, and both looked great in the end. Check out close-up photos of the finished pieces!

    One Day Builds: 1/6th Scale Cosmonaut Model Kit

    In this episode of One Day Builds, Adam Savage spends a day at the shop assembling and painting a beautiful 1/6th scale garage kit, based on the fantastical characters of artist Derek Stenning. Adam and Norm each work on their own kit, and Adam teaches us some painting and weathering techniques to bring out the intricate details on this sci-fi cosmonaut figure.

    Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 2: The Build

    Just before leaving for his tour in Australia, a delighted Jamie stops by Kernerworks to see an early comp of his racing spiders design in action for the first time. For additional behind-the-scenes footage, Jamie's original build notes and project photos, click here.

    How To Make Kill Bill's 'FUCK U' Shoes

    In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, one detail that appears on-screen for only a second are the soles of Uma Thurman's shoes. Those sneakers aren't off-the-shelf Onitsuka Tigers--they have the phase "FUCK U" molded right into the treading. It's a prop we've wanted to replicate for a long time, and we're finally able to do it with the help of effects artist Frank Ippolito. Here's how you can make your own pair! (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!)

    The Packard Merlin: How Detroit Mass-Produced Britain’s Hand-Built Powerhouse

    Few engines throughout history have achieved a near mythical status among its admirers. Fewer still can share credit for the rescue of an entire nation. Perhaps only the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine can claim both distinctions. During the Battle of Britain, it was the Merlin that powered the Royal Air Force Hurricanes and Spitfires that were England’s only effective defense against German air attacks. With the battle won, and the engine’s reputation thus established, the Merlin would become the stuff of legend and the powerplant of choice for numerous other aircraft.

    Even before the 1940 air battles over England, it was apparent that demand for the Merlin was far outpacing Rolls-Royce’s ability to produce them. The Ford Motor Company was asked to build 9,000 Merlins for both England and the US. Ford initially accepted the deal, but later reneged. Henry Ford explained that he would only produce military items for US defense. Interestingly, Ford of Britain in Manchester, England ultimately produced 36,000 Merlin engines, beginning at the same time period. Of course, Ford’s American factories would indeed become vital to the war effort. They manufactured unfathomable quantities of airplanes, jeeps and other war materiel--but not Merlins.


    Following Ford’s refusal to build the Merlin, a similar deal was presented to the Packard Motor Car Company. At that time, Packard automobiles were considered the “Rolls-Royce of America” by virtue of their luxury and quality. The company also had experience producing airplane engines and large V-12 powerplants used in speedy PT Boats. Packard accepted the offer from Rolls-Royce and earnestly began preparations to build Merlins at their Detroit factory.

    Two Countries Divided By A Common Language

    There are many obvious challenges posed by producing a British-designed engine in America. Just the task of converting all of the measurements from metric imperial to US Standard units was daunting enough. This job was made even more difficult by the unprecedented complexity of the Merlin. The 1,649 cubic inch V-12 engine is comprised of more than 14,000 individual parts (knoll that!). It was, and still is, often called “a watchmaker’s nightmare.

    Engineers at Packard soon discovered that Rolls-Royce did not design the Merlin for mass-production. The manufacturing tolerances were much looser than Packard’s standards. This was because Rolls-Royce had never implemented mass-production techniques to their assembly lines. Rather, they employed highly-trained “fitters” to assemble the engines. The fitters filed or otherwise massaged individual parts to achieve a precise fit. They even tightened critical bolts by trained feel, rather than with calibrated torque wrenches. In effect, each Rolls-Royce-manufactured Merlin was a hand-built engine that reflected the company’s traditions of premium quality and craftsmanship.

    Why I Built Robotic Racing Spiders

    When Evernote approached Adam and me and offered to support us in building anything we wanted, I suggested we make something that would never otherwise get made. Something that was unusual, that nobody in their right mind would take the trouble to do. Something I would build, just because I can!

    And the first thing that came to mind was to build big spiders that would be super fast and use a tendon-like system to pull the legs around. I would use synthetic fibers that were ultra light but stronger than steel, and guide them with pulleys. Lots of pulleys. I mean, with cables and pulleys you can lift tremendous weights. While we did not need to move lots of weight in this case, I figured that the load on pulling something like a leg around really fast can be huge, and break normal mechanical things.

    So I designed these spiders with all this in mind. Unfortunately, I wasn't going to be able to build them entirely myself because I was going on tour in Australia with Adam. I decided to engage the services of what used to be the Industrial Light & Magic model shop -- now they’ve formed a company called Kernerworks -- and use Evernote to manage and keep tabs on the project from the road! Through our back and forth, we documented the whole process of building the spiders, because this kind of thing is all about the process.

    You don’t really need racing spiders, but trying to make them can be really rewarding. We wanted to show that, and thanks to Evernote, I think we succeeded.

    Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 1: The Pitch

    When given the opportunity by Evernote to build anything he wants, Jamie chooses a complicated exercise in engineering that he's mulled for years: racing robotic spiders. But the project comes at a time when Jamie and Adam will be abroad, so it's Evernote and a solutions shop called Kernerworks to the rescue. For additional behind-the-scenes footage, Jamie's original build notes and project photos, click here.

    Lifelike Polar Bear Puppet Roams London

    To promote the launch of a TV show, Sky Atlantic commissioned a fabrication company Millenium FX to build a life-size polar bear puppet to roam the streets to London. This promo video shows the results of the stunt, as well as some cool behind-the-scenes footage of the 8ft puppet's construction. Two puppeteers operated the 44 pound bear from within, creating a very believable performance! (h/t Adam)

    Photo Gallery: Jim Henson's Creature Shop

    We were extremely privileged to visit the Los Angeles branch of the legendary Jim Henson Creature Shop, where fabricators, animators, and puppeteers carry on the craft made famous by Henson. Our video interview with the shop's Creative Supervisor explored puppeteering history and some cool new modern technologies, but I wanted to give you guys a sense of the scope of workshop. It really is a fabricator's paradise, with tools for machining, moldmaking and casting, electronics work, and of course, puppet building. There was a lot we couldn't photograph or show on video, but my favorite room was the puppet fabrication space, where walls were lined with shelves of foam, mulit-colored fabric, and puppet components (like eyes). Thanks so much to the Jim Henson Creature Shop team for letting us stop by!

    The Snake River Canyon Jump: Redeeming Evel Knievel's Legacy

    If you were a kid growing up in the ‘70’s, chances are Evel Knievel was one of your heroes. A motorcycle daredevil, he was a real life superhero to many kids who wanted to fly on their bicycles and Big Wheels, and he a major icon in seventies pop culture along like Fonzie, Kiss, and The Six Million Dollar Man. Knievel represented virtue and heroism, and he always tried to preach a positive message to the youth of America that we indeed live in a great country, and you can be whatever you want to be in life in you put your mind to it.

    One famous lecture he gave before performing a stunt, which is hilarious in hindsight, warned kids about the evils of drugs, comparing them to race car drivers who cheated by putting nitro in their cars. The cars go faster for five to ten laps, “then they blow all to hell. And you kids, if you put nitro in your bodies, in the form of narcotics, to think you’ll do better, you will, for about five or ten years, then you’ll blow all to hell.”

    Yet like another seventies icon, Billy Jack, Knievel was deeply flawed in his personal life, to where the contradictions of his private and public personas were glaringly obvious. For many years he battled the bottle, he had a violent temper, and his career essentially ended when he beat the shit out of a journalist with a baseball bat over an unauthorized biography that enraged him.

    Before that fateful incident, there was another event that showed the world that Evel wasn’t Superman after all, the Snake River Canyon jump in Twin Falls, Idaho.

    On September 8, 1974, Knievel attempted to fly over Snake River Canyon in a custom built rocket, but the parachute opened early, and he never made it to the other side. Many were under the impression that Evel chickened out and deployed the parachute early, a perception that haunted him for the rest of his life.

    The rocket was built by Robert Truax, and he never got over this incident either. Truax was a famed rocket scientist, but he’s today known for building an infamous rocket that didn’t work. Now his son, Scott Truax, is hoping to redeem the legacies of Evel, as well as his father, by recreating the Snake River Canyon jump, working from the original research and plans, and fixing the rocket’s initial flaws.

    Tested Visits Jim Henson's Creature Shop!

    When we talk about puppets in television and film, Jim Henson is the first name that comes to mind. Henson's legacy endures at his Creature Shop, where fabricators, engineers, and animators continue crafting the art of puppet-making and performance. We're privileged to be able to visit Jim Henson's Creature Shop, where we chat with Creative Supervisor Peter Brooke to learn how modern technologies combine with classic techniques to bring characters to life.

    In Brief: The Anatomy of an Aborted Disney World Ride

    I have a great appreciation for the design of Disney's theme parks, their attractions, and the Imagineers who think them up and build them. Last year, I picked up the two official Imagineering coffee table books, which provided a lot of fun behind-the-scenes and historical photos. But they didn't go as in-depth as I had hoped in explaining how attractions like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean actually worked. For that kind of insight, you're actually better off reading the blogs of Disney enthusiasts like Designing Disney and Passport to Dreams. The latter has recently published an incredible exploration of The Western River Expedition, which Disney fans consider to be one of the greatest theme park rides never made. The three-part series uses design art, screenshots from unused video presentations, and an in-depth analysis of the architectural model built for the ride to tell the ride's story. (h/t Adam Rogers)

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