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    Making a District 9 Alien Assault Rifle Prop Replica

    One of our favorite science fiction movies is District 9, which features beautiful props by Weta Workshop. Paying tribute to the film, we team up with prop maker Bill Doran and effects artist Frank Ippolito to replicate the movie's Alien Assault Rifle and accompanying alien hand. We walk through the process of building each, with the final cosplay pieces coming together at Comic-Con! (Thanks to Smooth-On for providing materials for this build!)

    Tested Builds: DIY Arcade Cabinet Kit, Part 1

    Time to start more weeks of builds! This week, we're joined by Jeremy Williams to assemble his new Porta-Pi DIY Arcade Cabinet Kit. the Porta-Pi is a desktop-sized arcade emulator that runs on either a Raspberry Pi or mini computer. Jeremy had built an earlier version, but the new model has a larger screen and more powerful computer inside. Let's get to building! (Follow along the rest of the week by joining the Tested Premium member community!)

    Building the Star Wars Rancor Costume, Part 1

    At this year's Comic-Con, we unveiled The Rancor Project: a huge foam-fabricated costume built by effects artist Frank Ippolito. The project was inspired by a test suit made by LucasFilm for Return of the Jedi, which never made it to the film. To show you how the Rancor was created, we visit Frank's workshop and walk through the design process, starting with a maquette sculpture and patterning by foam fabricator Ben Bayouth. Using these techniques, you can build your own creature costume! (Thanks to Model-Space.com for sponsoring this project!)

    Ant-Man and the History of Miniaturization in Movies

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 7/21/2015 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    Small is big. If you're in any doubt of that, check out Marvel's Ant-Man, the latest in a long line of movies in which ordinary human beings are reduced to the size of bugs.

    In Ant-Man, con-artist Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) dons a special suit charged with sub-atomic particles, which causes him to shrink to near-microscopic proportions. Drastically diminished, Rudd faces the considerable challenges posed by an ordinary world magnified to extraordinary proportions. Good job the side-effects of the miniaturization process imbued him with super-strength.

    You'll be able to read the complete story of the visual effects of Ant-Man in the next issue of Cinefex magazine, available to preorder now. To whet your appetite, this article includes exclusive insights from Jake Morrison, Ant-Man's visual effects supervisor, about the challenges involved in creating Marvel's latest – and littlest – screen hero.

    Before hearing from Jake, however, we're going to take out our magnifying glasses and examine some of the other movies which have delighted in pitting pocket-sized heroes against teeny-tiny villains.

    Tested Mailbag: 1:220 Scale Models Kits

    Woot! This week's reader mailbag is super cool, and a callback to one of our week of build projects from last year. Ben Jean from Montreal designs small-scale models made of laser-cut wood and liner board. His care package included unassembled kits as well as completed versions, one of which is inspired by the upcoming game Firewatch!

    Building a District 9 Alien Rifle Replica, Part 4

    Over the past month, Punished Props' Bill Doran built a 1:1 scale replica of the alien assault rifle from District 9 to unveil with us at Comic-Con. Bill's build logs and videos will walk through his design and fabrication process, and his finished piece was unviled with a surprise at SDCC. Place your questions for Bill in the comments below! Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

    Here it is: the final part of the District 9 Gun Prop build! Fortunately, the molding process was fairly painless and yielded some very useful molds. When it comes to casting, having good molds can make or break a project, especially when you need 24 of something, as we did for this whacky alien gun.

    Dump Molds

    Most of the pieces for the gun were done with simple dump molds. This means all I had to do was mix up some Smooth-Cast 300 resin, tint it with a little SO-Strong black, and pour it into the molds we made. The only fancy business we did was to tap the mold around a bit to make sure no bubbles were trapped.

    This process was used for the top scope pieces, the barrel pieces, some of the side greeblies, and all 24 of the tubes that stick out the sides of the barrel length.

    Show and Tell: TinyCircuits Micro Arcade Cabinet

    This week, Norm shares a microcontroller system that's designed to run truly tiny electronics projects. Tinycircuits is an Arduino-compatible hardware platform with stackable expansion boards that allow you to make wearable lights, a simple smartwatch, or even a tiny arcade cabinet. It's really neat!

    Adam Savage Incognito in Judge Dredd Cosplay

    For his final cosplay incognito walk through this year's Comic-Con, Adam suits up as a Judge from the 2012 Dredd film. His helmet, tactical vest, Lawgiver pistol, and all the other pieces of the uniform are painstaking reproductions, weathered to look like they've seen some combat. Watch as Judge Savage meets up with a group of other Dredd cosplayers to patrol Comic-Con!

    SDCC 2015: Chronicle Collectibles' Movie Prop Replicas

    We stop by the Chronicle Collectibles booth at Comic-Con to check out their upcoming maquettes and prop replicas from franchises like Terminator and Ghostbusters. We learn about new molding and casting techniques that allow for them to easily scale their models, as well as get our hands on a prototype Syd Mead-designed concept blaster from Blade Runner!

    Sideshow Collectibles at Comic-Con 2015

    We visit the Sideshow Collectibles booth at this year's Comic-Con to check out what new statues, figures, and other collectibles they have on display. Their Superman: Red Son figures stood out, as well as partner Hot Toys' ridiculous Star Wars vehicle prototypes. A full-sized Millennium Falcon cockpit for sixth-scale figures!

    Adam Savage and Alton Brown Incognito at Comic-Con 2015

    Adam invites Alton Brown to join him on an Incognito walk through Comic-Con and check out the exhibit hall. For their disguises, the two choose to portray the Twins from The Matrix Reloaded, coordinating intentionally low-grade costumes to throw off fans. How long will it be before they're recognized?

    Photo Gallery: Collectibles, Cosplay, and 'Cinephile' at Comic-Con 2015

    Phiew, that sure was a Comic-Con. First of all, my apologies to everyone who's been waiting for a cosplay gallery this year. Between, hosting a party, three Adam Incognito walks, two new Tested projects (one of which we revealed today--The Rancor), and all of our other videos, I just didn't have the time on the floor last week to shoot enough photos for a proper gallery. Promise to make it up to you at Dragon*Con. But that doesn't mean I didn't take any photos. So in lieu of a full cosplay gallery, here's a selection of my photos showing you my SDCC 2015 experience. A mix of costumes, events, props, panels, and collectibles from Comic-Con, along with my commentary in the captions.

    Tested Presents The Rancor Project!

    We're extremely excited to reveal our big creature project at San Diego Comic-Con: The Rancor! Effects artist Frank Ippolito designed and built this incredibly-detailed foam costume in less than a month, based on references from an original test costume used for the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi production team. In the coming weeks, we'll show you how this Rancor was built, and teach you some of the processes Frank and his team used to make a wearable foam creature costume! (Thanks to Model-Space.com for supporting this project. Check out the Millennium Falcon model kit here.)

    Converting Avengers: Age of Ultron to Stereoscopic 3D

    This story originally appeared on the Cinefex blog on 6/2/2015 and is republished here with permission. Learn more about Cinefex magazine here.

    When booking your tickets for the latest summer blockbuster, you'll probably be faced with a choice: 2D or 3D? With Avengers: Age of Ultron, the question is boiled down to its most visceral form. Is it enough just to see Hulk smash? Or do I want to see Hulk smash in stereo!

    According to the latest MPAA report, Theatrical Marketing Statistics, nine out of the top ten box office hits in US/Canada in 2014 boasted a 3D theatrical release. The same year saw the global proportion of 3D digital screens increase to 51% (70% in the Asia Pacific region). Pundits continue to debate the pros and cons of 3D, but as long as the major studios continue to pump out big stereo movies, the desire will remain to make the 3D experience as punchy as possible.

    Satisfying this desire on Avengers: Age of Ultron were two stereo conversion facilities: Prime Focus World and Stereo-D. In total, Prime Focus World converted 830 shots for the movie, with production running for three months, and the number of team members peaking at 613 across their London, Mumbai and Vancouver offices.

    Cinefex spoke to Richard Baker, senior stereo supervisor at Prime Focus World, about the state of the art in stereo conversion, and about the company's work on Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    So how about Hulk? He's a big guy – does that make him a natural subject for 3D?

    The issue of Hulk's size was an interesting one. We obviously wanted to use the stereo to emphasize his scale, and the natural tendency would have been to pump him up in the stereo conversion. But this actually has the opposite effect, and tends to minimize scale. To increase the feeling that Hulk is much bigger than the other characters, we actually flattened him off a little, slightly reducing his internal depth and ensuring that he was never too separated from the background.

    Star Trek USS Enterprise Scale Replica from QmX

    Star Trek's Federation flagship never looked this good back in 1966! We chat with John Eblan, head of QmX's FX Cinema Arts model shop, about this interpretation of the original USS Enterprise 1701. John explains the design and build of this beautiful scale model starship, including the electronics work and "Aztec" hull plating pattern.