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!)
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!)
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.
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.
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.
As promised, close-up photos of the custom cooling system used in Adam's 2001: A Space Odyssey Clavius Base spacesuits. We talked about how these worked in the most recent episode of Still Untitled!
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!
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!
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!
This April, an opera was performed in L.A. to the sixties movie Hercules in the Haunted World. Yes, you usually don't equate a sword and sandal flick with opera, but this was no mere gladiator movie, it was directed by legendary Italian director Mario Bava. Primarily known for the horror classics Black Sunday, Black Sabbath (where the heavy metal band took their name), and Planet of the Vampires, Bava also worked in many different genres, and his movies were never run of the mill.
Bava originally studied to be a painter, and fans of his work clearly noted his movies were a step above the usual grindhouse fare. These movies were the work of an artist, not a B-movie hack. Not to mention that Bava was a master at delivering clever special effects for practically nothing.
Bava's fans include Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, and Tim Burton, among other top filmmakers. In his native homeland, Bava was also respected by the Italian masters Fellini, Visconti, and De Sica.
As Scorsese once said in an interview, "I like Mario Bava's films very much. Hardly any story, just atmosphere with all that fog and ladies walking down corridors – a kind of Italian gothic. I would just put them on loops and have one going in one room in my house, one going on in another…creating a whole mood." (The Bava film Kill Baby Kill was a big influence on Scorsese, as well as Fellini, and both used Bava's metaphor of Satan appearing as young girl in The Last Temptation of Christ and Spirits of the Dead.)
At Comic-Con, io9 asked celebrities their opinions on a classic geek question: which would win in a battle, Star Trek's USS Enterprise or Star Wars' Millennium Falcon? On the red carpet for the EW party, Adam settles the debate with the most thoughtful answer, referencing the Next Generation episode "The Outrageous Okona" (coincidentally, the Star Trek episode featuring a Han Solo-like rogue). Lasers do call for a yellow alert!
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?
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.
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.)
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'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.
At every Comic-Con, we love stopping by the Prop Store booth because they bring out rare movies props, costumes, and miniatures from their vast collection, and let us get up close with them! This year, we examine original Star Trek costumes and filming miniatures, Blade Runner and Fifth Element props, and some production prototypes never before seen by fans. Leeloo Dallas' actual Multipass!
Every year, Adam Savage walks the floor of Comic-Con incognito, hidden in plain sight. This year, he's mixing things up with a joint-incognito walk with special guest Astronaut Chris Hadfield! Appropriately, Adam and Commander Hadfield cosplay as 2001: A Space Odyssey astronauts, complete with working active water-cooling systems in their spacesuits. And on the show floor, they unexpectedly run into a mutual friend...
At Comic-Con 2015, we met up with Anovos, the makers of officially licensed Star Wars costumes and helmets. Among completed costumes, they're releasing a D-I-Y kit for Stormtrooper armor (which includes a finished helmet). We get our hands on an early test Shadowtrooper kit from Anovos, and walk through the process of cleaning up the vacu-formed pieces with effects artist Frank Ippolito!