Quantcast
Latest StoriesMakers
    Filmmaker Casey Neistat's Box Organization System

    Filmmaker Casey Neistat (previously featured in this video series) shares his organizational system of 39 red boxes in his Manhattan studio. Neistat uses a radial structure of categorization, grouping like items together that share prototypical properties (eg. writing implements vs. electronics). It's an aesthetically pleasing sorting system, and reminds us that everyone has their own system for inventorying their objects that works for them. As we've discussed in Still Untitled, Adam uses a system of "first order retrievability," making the tools he uses most frequently the most accessible.

    Jamie and Adam's Comic-Con 2014 Panel

    Jamie and Adam did something different for this year's panel at Comic-Con--they omitted having a moderator in favor of talking directly to the fans. For over an hour, they answer questions and show new clips from Mythbusters. We also see Jamie test a new technique for walking through the floor of Comic-Con!

    The Fletcher Capstan Table Is an Engineering Marvel

    I love round capstan tables, but this one is the most incredible table I've ever seen. Using almost 1000 pieces, it turns and opens up to raise additional leaves from its interior so it can expand to a larger size. To shrink it back down, you simply turn it the other way. Thanks to @Bombauer for the link.

    OverDrive: The Flying Car on Kickstarter

    Over the years, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from my friend and former NASA colleague, Fitz Walker. I’ve long been aware of his engineering and fabrication talents from projects that I have collaborated with him. Fitz has a secretive side too. The true depth and breadth of his skills always seem to be revealed through random, casual conversations: “That thing? Oh, that’s my RC submarine…I’ve been building them for years.” “What? I didn’t tell you that I built an electric motorcycle?”

    Fitz’s most recent bomb was borderline atomic. He confided that he has spent years working with a team to create an honest-to-goodness flying car--which many consider to be the holy grail of engineering challenges! I was able to get him to divulge a few details, and later met with the project’s originator and driving force, Mitchell LaBiche. I caught Mitch just as he was preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign for his project. He provided deep insight into his design as well as the regimented approach that he has taken to avoid the pitfalls that foiled so many other flying car entrepreneurs.

    The LaBiche Automotive OverDrive is a flying car project that looks more like an Italian supercar than airplane. Attractiveness was one of the development team’s primary design requirements.

    Tested: You call your flying car design “OverDrive”. How did the concept develop?

    LaBiche: During my early years of flying, I became stranded or delayed at a few destinations on multiple occasions. One such event was when I became stranded at an airport for three days and could not take off. However, just 50 miles away, the weather was clear. If I could have moved my plane down the road to the clear weather, it would have turned my disastrous weekend into a mere inconvenience. That event got me to start thinking of a better way to own, use, and integrate civil aviation/personal aircraft into everyday life.

    During that time, I was employed as an engineer working on the Apache helicopter program and had envisioned that what I (and others) wanted was some sort of vertical takeoff, personal air vehicle. The plan changed when I took a friend’s suggestion to ask a few people what they wanted…and possibly turn my personal project into a money making venture. I invested three years and lots of money in marketing questionnaires which produced over 3,000 data points. From that, I found that what most people actually wanted was a not a vertical takeoff machine, but a personal travel vehicle that could both fly fast and go down the road. That changed everything.

    OverDrive's proposed conversion from car to plane. (Click to play)

    The original R&D project (named the FSC-1, for Flying Sports Car #1 under the LaBiche Aerospace banner) was started to see if a marketable flying car could be designed and built. After nearly 20 years of continuous, low-level development, it was deemed ready to move on to the next phase as a real product in 2012. A new sister company was formed (LaBiche Automotive) and the FSC-1 became “OverDrive” to sell the vehicle under a new name indicative of a product for the advanced automotive market.

    Marilyn Myller, A Stop-Motion Short about Stop-Motion Animation

    Marilyn Myller is a stop-motion short about the awesome power and frustrations of being a maker, through the wandering mind of a stop-motion animator. A little surreal and beautifully animated, it's the kind of story that any filmmaker or sculptor may relate to. "A year in the making, the full six minute stopmotion short features the voice of Josie Long, one zillion hand carved tiny things, literally tens of carved foam puppets, two eye fulls of in-camera, long-exposure light trickery and a pair of tiny dolphins, smooching." One of my favorite short films I saw at this year's SXSW film festival.

    The Influence and Legacy of Artist H.R. Giger

    It will make a great question on a game show one day: What never-released movie had ambitions to be over ten hours long, star Mick Jagger and Orson Welles, feature a screenplay by the writer of Alien, and production design by H.R. Giger? Jodorowsky’s Dune of course, and the recent documentary on this unmade epic is a remarkable effort--probably the best movie about an unmade movie I've seen yet.

    All filmmakers have dream projects that for one reason or another, never get made, and Dune was a real heartbreaker for writer Dan O’Bannon. He eventually rebounded with Alien, and brought the late Giger along with him to be the production designer. The rest, as you know, is sci-fi history, as Giger's designs for the creature and sets revolutionized the monster-movie genre. As Ridley Scott said in a statement after Giger's recent passing, the swiss surrealist was “a real artist and great eccentric, a true original, but above all he was a really nice man.”

    Most people know Giger’s work from Alien, yet he created a large body of work in his lifetime. Whether you know the name or not, his artwork is unmistakable and unforgettable. It's art that you can both fall in love with and get terrified by at the same time. Giger was a fearless artist who looked deep into the abyss, and found it a great landscape to capture in his work.

    We asked Frank Pavich, the director of Jodorowsky’s Dune, how important he felt Giger’s work was to the history of sci-fi. “I think he’s incredibly important,” Pavich tells us. “Let’s say we take the timeline of films, and let’s say we remove Alien from the timeline. There were so many films that directly or indirectly took influence from that film. If you compare Star Wars and films before that to the aesthetic of Alien, they’re completely different. Alien is, as he put it, a biological mess. It’s dirty, it’s messy, it’s gross, it’s disgusting, and I don’t think science fiction had that kind of horror. I think he really created that fear in us.”

    The Comic-Con 2014 Cosplay Gallery (750+ Photos)

    Every year, we attend Comic-Con to celebrate our favorite parts of popular culture. We meet amazing artists, storytellers, toymakers, and of course, cosplayers. Adam walks the floor incognito in one of his new costumes, and I get to spend my free time roaming the convention hall meeting and taking photos of people who embody their favorite characters through cosplay. (It's a great photography exercise, too!) The cosplayers of Comic-Con never cease to impress me with their creativity and enthusiasm, and I'm pleased to share with you my favorite photos from this year's convention. Know who these cosplayers are? Email me at norman@tested.com with "Comic-Con 2014 cosplay" in the subject line to help me credit these awesome cosplayers. Thanks!

    Adam Incognito at Comic-Con 2014: Alien Spacesuit

    Ever year, Adam Savage walks the floor of Comic-Con incognito, hidden in plain view wearing one of his elaborate cosplay costumes. This year, Adam debuts a costume he has been working on for almost a decade: a perfect replica of the environmental space suit from Ridley Scott's Alien!

    So, We Had a Little Comic-Con Party...

    To the Tested community members, new community members, and to all of the makers in general who were at our party last night at Comic-Con.

    Thank you.

    For those who might not be at the Con this year, Tested, AOL, our sister site Mandatory, and I threw a party for a few hundred people in San Diego, featuring about a dozen of my costumes and constructions on display, along with work we've commissioned for Tested. We called it Incognito.

    I think it was a pretty good party.

    I had an awesome time. I've never had that many of my costumes on display all in one place like that and seeing them together was amazing. I've had many of them set up in my Cave, to be sure, but not like this and not for hundreds of people to appreciate at once. It was real, to see how much time and energy and love and obsession each represented to my past. I have deep and fond memories of every problem solved, every hurdle jumped, and it was lovely to share that with people who were able to attend.

    The best part about hosting a Comic-Con party is that I get to see so many of my favorite people all at once. That's pretty much the purpose of any party, right?

    I got to talk to dozens of makers of every stripe, skill level, and inclination. In addition to my friends and loved ones, we opened the party up early to Tested Premium members and anyone who was in San Diego last night--cosplayers and makers and tinkerers. I took a lot of pictures with a lot of people last night, and I tried to talk to as many people as I could.

    The sheer breadth of experience, enthusiasm, diversity, passion, and talent I encountered among the crowd was stunning. Humbling. Thrilling. I heard stories of tiny shops in the corner of apartments. Of projects tackled, difficulties overcome, and obsessions indulged. My favorite kind of conversations. Over and over attendees told me about their work, their lives, and their tools and materials.

    I found every interaction inspiring. Everyone in the room shared interests, and I caught some wonderful meeting-of-the-mind moments, where people were trading their hard-earned lessons. It felt that the broad community of Comic-Con was well represented at our shindig. And I'm grateful to be a part of that community.

    Thank you.

    Tested Goes to Comic-Con 2014!

    We've arrived at San Diego for Comic-Con! Will and Norm rush to pick up their badges and then hit the convention floor for Wednesday's preview night. We give you a preview of what to expect on Tested this week--let the geeking out commence!

    Adam Savage's Hellboy Mecha-Glove Replica

    One of Adam Savage's favorite movie props is Rasputin's mecha-hand from Hellboy. It's an elaborately machined prop that's only in the movie for a few minutes, and Adam has spent over four years painstakingly replicating it. Now that it's finally done, Adam walks us through all the individual components and how he fabricated each.

    Adam Savage's Prop Replica Drawings

    In the process of building one of his replica props, Adam accumulates an extremely detailed inventory of all the components of that prop, with specifications that match the original as best as possible. Now, Adam has taken up drawing as another outlet for his obsessions, sharing that wealth of knowledge in beautiful sketches and original graphic designs. Find out how you can get one of these art prints here.

    How To Build a Life-Size Dragon

    Norm's note: Frank first showed us his Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate dragon sculpt before this year's E3. Frank has since written up his build, which we wanted to share ahead of this week's Comic-Con--where the Gore Magala creature will be on display at the Capcom booth.

    I love video games and video game culture, and last year was stoked to be asked to be a part of a team doing the Zombie makeups for Capcom's Dead Rising 3 booth at E3. It was there that I befriended the creative services team in charge of all of these cool trade show events and displays. Jump ahead to a few months ago, when I received a call from the team lead at Capcom to bid on the making of a display sculpture for one of their upcoming games: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate!

    The concept was to have a 20-foot tall backdrop with a huge image of one of the game’s monsters, and have the front third of it coming out of the backdrop. Big is sort of an understatement here; once I did some quick math to put it into scale, the sculpture I would have to create would be almost 8 feet tall, 14 feet wide, and 12 feet long. To bid on something of this size is really tough. Most trade show displays are carved or milled out of bead foam and then hard coated, which leaves very little finished detail. But this monster has a lot of detail. So I had to figure a solution that could provide that kind of detail while keeping costs reasonable. After that came an engineering problem: how would this thing support itself? Additionally, it has to be transported to multiple venues and be durable enough for the public to interact with. So it also needed to come apart. Not easy!

    After some back-and-forth details of the deliverables and specifications, and some careful planning and budgeting, I was awarded the job, which would be guilt in my newly expanded shop. Here is what my team and I came up with for the design of this build.

    Karakuri Puppets, Japan's Automata

    "Japans modern day robots can be traced back to the Karakuri. Today Hideki Higashino is one of the few remaining craftsmen who is determined to keep the history and tradition of Japanese Karakuri alive." This past Saturday, production house Bot & Dolly hosted the fourth annual Robot Film Festival in San Francisco (MCed by friend of Tested Veronica Belmont). It was a celebration of films starring and documenting our fascination with robots, with showings of short films and the 2005 Japanese science fiction film Hinokio. The film festival has made past entries available online, and 2013's films--including the one above on Japanese Karakuri--are just wonderful. I especially like that there's a category for Best Human as Robot Actor.

    How The Evil Dead's Tom Sullivan Mastered Low-Budget Effects

    When Sam Raimi went to college at Michigan State, he formed a tight group of filmmaking friends. Scott Spiegel, who wrote Evil Dead 2, bonded with Raimi over their mutual love of The Three Stooges. Bruce Campbell became Raimi’s square jawed leading man, and Rob Tapert would become Sam’s long time producer. Another important member of that filmmaking fraternity was Tom Sullivan, who did the make-up effects for The Evil Dead. If Raimi's seminal horror debut is renowned for its low-budget production, it was Sullivan who gets the credit for providing those memorable scares with such limited resources.

    Part of what made The Evil Dead so enjoyable was its very homemade feel. It was a completely independent movie, and like the best low budget movies that break out into the mainstream, enthusiasm and spirit triumphed over whatever technical flaws the movie had. Sullivan was a major facilitator in bringing Raimi’s insane vision to life, and as a long time horror fan, I welcomed the chance to talk to him about his memories of working on The Evil Dead.

    Tom Sullivan first met up with Sam Raimi because his girlfriend was attending Michigan State as the same time as the wunderkind director. Sullivan had heard about Sam’s Creative Filmmaking Society, where he would show his 8mm movies he made in junior high and high school, and charge a buck or so for admission. “Sam was surrounded by a group of friends who were all interested in filmmaking and acting,” Sullivan says. “He had his own little company.”

    When Sullivan met Raimi, they immediately hit it off because Tom was fascinated with stop-motion animation, special effects, claymation, and puppets, and these were all filmmaking techniques that were right up Raimi’s alley. All were solitary pursuits for Sullivan, and now he found a filmmaker with a like mind he could collaborate with.

    In Brief: An Object Lesson on Scotch Tape

    The New York Times has a lovely short story about the origin of 3M's Scotch tape, which was invented in the 1920s by an engineering-school dropout who spent two years experimenting with chemical mixtures becoming landing on a combination of cabinetmaker's glue and glycerin as the adhesive for the now ubiquitous masking tape. The other half of the invention was of course choosing cellophane (introduced in the US in 1924) as the backing for the transparent tape. The name Scotch, apparently originated as a colloquial slur for "cheap." And as Will likes to point out, we're still not exactly sure how adhesive forces in glue and tape works in every situation. Even that sticky barnacle glue stuff that enamored Darwin.

    Norman 1
    Animating Robocop 2's Cain Robot with Phil Tippett

    One of science fiction film's most memorable and menacing creatures is the Cain cyborg from Robocop 2. Cain was brought to life with a full-size robot prop and several intricately machined stop-motion puppets, all which have survived and live at Tippett Studio. We get up close with these iconic props and chat with legendary special effects animator Phil Tippett about the process of designing and animating Cain.