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    Rick Baker's Men in Black Puppets and Animatronics

    Some of effects legend Rick Baker's most memorable work was in the Men in Black series, where his studio designed and created the fantastic alien creatures featured in the films. We chat with Rick about the practical fabrication of the memorable worm aliens, and a giant bug animatronic that never made it to screen--all going on auction. So many wonderful stories! (For a chance to win a prop from this collection, just post in the comments what from the auction you'd love to have!)

    Photo Gallery: Rick Baker's 'Monster Maker' Auction Collection

    Check out some photos from our recent visit to Prop Store's Rick Baker 'Monster Maker' auction collection. The warehouse was like the storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark--a treasure trove of effects artifacts and iconic creatures from Baker's filmography. The detail in some of these props and animatronics was stunning--I personally gravitated toward the Men in Black aisle to get up close to the worm guys. We'll have more videos from our visit this week and next on the site. Until then, find out more about this historic May 29th auction at www.propstore.com/rickbaker

    Rick Baker's Gremlins 2 Puppets and Animatronics

    We're extremely privileged to visit the collection of special effects legend Rick Baker, whose make up and creature designs have appeared in films like an American Werewolf in London, Planet of the Apes, and the Men in Black series. While previewing an upcoming auction of his works, we chat with Baker about his work on Gremlins 2 and get up close to the spectacular puppets and animatronics his studio made for the production. More videos from our visit coming soon!

    One Day Builds: Adam Savage's Star Trek Captain's Chair

    We're in for a treat today--Adam shares the story of his Star Trek Captain's Chair, which he became obsessed with building from scratch after acquiring an insufficient replica. With the help of friend Jeremy Williams, Adam spends a day wiring in the electronics to bring his new Enterprise command chair to life. After much problem solving and troubleshooting, the effort pays off in a big way!

    Making Needle Felted Star Wars Characters

    We meet Holman Wang, who along with his brother recently published the Star Wars Epic Yarns book series featuring needle felted interpretations of iconic Star Wars scenes. Holman shares with us his self-taught process of crafting the detailed felt characters, and we join him for a workshop to learn how to make our own felt Jawa! Find the instructions here. (Star Wars characters © Lucasfilm Ltd. Star Wars is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.)

    The Sound Design and Sci-Fi UI of Avengers 2

    Note: Some plot spoilers in these videos. Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron has been out for a week, I feel comfortable sharing some behind-the-scenes videos that have been produced to promote the film. First up is the SoundWorks Collection interview with sound designer Christopher Boyes, who talks about the making of Quicksilver's audio cues, Ultron's robot-crunching sounds, Hulk's big setpiece, and other effects for the film. This second video is a showreel for Territory Studio, the effects house in charge of designing the computer screens that appear on Tony Stark's tech, the Quinjet, and the medical lab. I'm sure we'll see it referenced on the Sci-Fi interfaces blog in the future! (h/t Gizmodo)

    Putting Together Ghostbusters' Special Effects

    It's another anniversary that makes us feel old. Not only did The Terminator hit 30 last year, but so did Ghostbusters, which was a ginormous hit in the summer of 1984. Ghostbusters was a unique comedic vision that only could have been dreamed up by Dan Aykroyd, but he also had a great team behind him with Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, the late Harold Ramis, and effects master Richard Edlund. But putting the film together wasn't easy, especially with the fantastic elements called for in the script.

    Aykroyd's first draft of the Ghostbusters script was large and unwieldy, and it needed to be broken down into a shootable movie. Edlund remembered the script was 175 pages, which would have made a three-hour film. Joe Medjuck, who was the movie's associate producer, remembered, "The script just seemed impossible to make. That version was set in outer space and other dimensions. It didn't have the focus that eventually came." Once Ivan Reitman came aboard, the project finally got into shape.

    After leaving ILM, Edlund set up Boss Films Company. Edlund started working on the effects of the film when the final script was being hammered out. Having a comedy with this much extensive FX work "actually freed us up," Edlund recalls. "It was fantasy stuff, which you can do in a comedy. You can have an eighty-foot Marshmallow man stomping down Broadway. We never did actually figure out exactly how tall the Marshmallow Man was! It's sort of like, how big is the Death Star? With the wand, the wobbly, multicolored rubberized light was comedic in itself."

    The optical effects for Ghostbusters were shot on 65mm, which started the joke that BFC stood for Big Fuckin' Camera. In a number of FX intensive films, the opticals are often shot on 65mm so when they're brought down to 35mm there isn't any degeneration of the image, much like a Xerox copy losing a generation.

    Even though Star Wars had reinvented the wheel for special effects, on Ghostbusters Edlund said they "always had to invent our way out of a corner. We had to build an optical printer, and we had to build a lens from scratch with seventeen elements for the printer."

    In Brief: Scratch Built TIE Bomber Model with 3D Printing

    RPF member mikoyan99 (Matt) is getting some well-deserved attention this week from 3D printing websites for a replica TIE Bomber project he actually completed a year ago. Because no one has a released a studio scale model kit for the ship, Matt made his replica using parts from a Darth Vader TIE advanced model kit and scratch building the two fuselages with 3D prints and aluminum tubing. The finished ship is lovely, and is currently being used for a Star Wars fanfilm. You can find more of Matt's scratch build projects on his DeviantArt page.

    Making Realistic Vulcan or Elf Ear Prosthetics

    Effects artist Frank Ippolito joins us once again for a make-up project tutorial and demonstration. For this year's WonderCon, Norm wanted to go as a Vulcan with authentic ear prosthetics. Using techniques we've shown before like lifecasting, sculpting, mold-making, and casting, Frank builds up a lifelike appliance and shows us how to apply it. Watching this video would be most logical! (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: 200MP Scans of Interstellar IMAX Film Cells

    Regardless of whether you thought Chris Nolan's Interstellar was a good movie or not, it was undeniably beautiful in its depiction of space and space travel. The recent Blu-Ray release of the film included a 70mm IMAX film cell with each copy, and buyers have begun sharing what cells they've received on Reddit and in AV forum threads. One awesome thing that's come out of it is users who've put their collectible IMAX cells under archival-grade optical scanners, like this Reddit user. His Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED is able to scan a cell at 4000dpi, producing an image that's 16000x8000 in uninterpolated resolution. Plenty big for wallpapers or for printing out for home framing. The 200MP scans end up being over 100MB each in JPEG form, and over a gigabyte each uncompressed. Check them out!

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    The Story of the Indiana Jones Bridge Scene

    A YouTube channel that doesn't get enough love is Academy Originals--interviews and short behind-the-scenes pieces produced by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Most recently, I've binged-watched their "Behind the Scene" series, where effects supervisors recount the task of staging and producing memorable set pieces from films old and new. Here, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom's Geroge Gibbs explains how his production team blew up the bridge in the film's climax. Other shorts from the channel worth watching: Edge of Tomorrow's Paris crash, an explanation of color grading, and a look at Rick Backer's make-up effects collection.

    Sideshow Collectibles' R2-ME2 Custom Droid Project

    What happens when you give 90 artists the same blank Star Wars toy and tell them to make it their own? That's what Sideshow Collectibles did with their R2-ME2 project, which produced these amazing custom toy modifications based off of a sixth-scale R2-D2 astromech. We get up close with these beautiful pieces that take inspiration from every corner of pop culture.

    In Brief: ILM's John Knoll on the Death Star and Star Wars Physics

    A week ago, attendees at Star Wars Celebration got the first glimpse of the first Star Wars Anthology film, named Rogue One. Director Gareth Edwards revealed that the film would be about the theft of the Death Star plans before the events of Episode IV, and showed a short teaser clip created by ILM specifically for the announcement. The clip, which has yet to be officially released by Lucasfilm (but for which bootleg copies were immediately uploaded to YouTube), showed the massive Death Star looming over the horizon of a forested planet. AICN writer and professional astronomer used screencaps of that footage to calculate the physics of that shot to assess it's "realism", and was subsequently contacted by effects legend John Knoll to walked through ILM's thinking behind that shot. Knoll's explanation is wonderfully geeky, and shows how much thought effects artists and engineers put into their work, beyond just the "wow" factor. It's the very best of sci-fi apologetics, from the behind-the-scenes technicians closest to canon. (h/t Gary Whitta)

    In Brief: Brad Bird and George Lucas Interviewed at Tribeca

    The Tribeca Film Festival just wrapped up over the weekend, and we're beginning to see video clips and excerpts from the Directors Series of interviews held there. First off, Stephen Colbert interviewed George Lucas about his career and approach to filmmaking, including Lucas' affinity for experimental films (of which Star Wars was one). Brad Bird, whose second live-action film Tomorrowland comes out this summer, discussed animation and his on-hiatus 1906 project. And True Detective season one director Cary Fukunaga talked about projects for Netflix and why he's adapting Stephen King's It. For Bay Area residents, this year's San Francisco International Film Festival just kicked off with a tribute to Guillermo Del Toro, and I hope that clips from that interview will make its way online soon!

    The Force Awakens Stormtrooper Armor by Anovos

    We were surprised and delighted to find that Stormtroopers from the new Star Wars film attended Celebration Anaheim in force! Anovos, makers of officially licensed sci-fi costumes and armor, worked with Lucasfilm to equip members of the 501st legion with the new suits. We get up close with these replicas and learn how they differ from both The Force Awakens' filming costumes and the classic trilogy Stormtrooper armor.