A massive box filled with packing peanuts and voluminous zip-lock bags just arrived at the cave! That can only mean one thing: time for the unveiling of Adam's newest costume acquisition from Prop Store. This costume has it all: armor, a helmet, shield, sword, and spear--and it's all gorgeously made for a big budget film.
We visit one of our favorite effects shops, Phil Tippett Studio, where Phil is working on his stop-motion passion project, Mad God. Norm and Sean get an update on the status of the film, and stop by the studio's model shop to see how the team there is remaking two figures originally designed for Star Wars' holochess sequence!
On the set of Alien: Covenant, Adam gets up close with the animatronic Xenomorph head that's worn by the film's creature puppeteer. Seeing this head animate and lunge, we learn how the animatronic operators work with the performer to breathe life into this 9-foot tall creature. (Alien: Covenant is now available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD.)
In this very special incognito walk through Comic-Con, Adam puts on one of the actual spacesuits from Alien: Covenant! This beautiful suit was made by FBFX, and is packed with incredible detail, digital displays, and lighting that makes it look believable on screen. Of course, we can't help but scrutinize every inch of this suit, from the soles of the boots to the inside of the helmet!
We thought Bandai's 1/144-scale Millennium Falcon was a thing of beauty, but we're awestruck by the amount of detail in the new Perfect Grade 1/72 Falcon we finally see in person. We learn a few interesting bits about this snap-fit model kit from its exhibitor Bluefin, and scrutinize the finished model on display at Comic-Con.
Using the skills he learned from Weta Workshop's master swordsmith Peter Lyon, Adam takes on a One Day Build project he's been waiting to do his entire life: make King Arthur's sword from Excalibur! Follow along with Adam's journey to build a full suit of King Arthur armor, this fall on Tested and VRV.
We meet up with David Pea of UD Replicas, who makes officially licensed superhero suits that are actually made for everyday active wear. These leather jackets and corsets look like the armor that Batman and Wonder Woman wear, and can actually be work for motorcycle riding.
We're behind the scenes during the production of Alien: Covenant, where we step inside the elaborate set created for David's lair. Adam explores the details of this densely dressed set, packed with props and beautiful artwork that we only glimpsed on screen. The amount of work put into this laboratory of horrors is incredible!
Scale model kits take a long road from initial design to injection molded plastic, and we check out a few of the prototype steps along the way before they hit your home cutting mat. Moebius Models shares with us a 3D printed prototype of a Star Trek starship, die-cast pieces of the Flying Sub from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and production samples for the long-awaited Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey!
We get some close-up looks at Prop Store's collection of model miniatures from Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Aliens on display at this year's Comic-Con. Stephen Lane talks about the details of each piece, all of which are going on auction this fall. Plus, an actual hero Star Lord helmet from Guardians of the Galaxy!
We get up close with the stop-motion puppets, vehicles, and environments built for Laika Entertainment's magnificent films, on display in San Diego during Comic-Con. From 3D-printed model parts to large-scale mechanized puppets, the fabrication and finish of these characters are a labor of love for the art of stop-motion animation.
Say hello to Twobacca! Adam is joined by John Hodgman at Comic-Con as they both walk the floor as our favorite wookiee! It's also John's very first time cosplaying, and he quickly discovers how enjoyable it is. Plus, Adam chats with the maker of this Chewie costume, and how it's in some ways an improvement over Adam's own costume!
It's reassuring to know that hardcore fans are somtimes in charge of making high-end collectibles. We meet up with Quantum Mechanix's Schubert Tam to learn how he directed his team to research and sculpt the perfect sixth-scale replicas of our favorite Star Trek characters, down to their episode-specific facial expressions!
In addition to making costume and armor kits, Anovos is starting to produce replica prop kits as well, starting with this Star Wars First Order F-11D Blaster. We stop by their booth at Comic-Con to check out the production model of this kit, learn about its build material, and see how it's put together. We can't wait to paint one!
Adam and Norm check out some insanely detailed props and costumes Weta Workshop made for the film Spectral, now on auction at Prop Store. We examine the intricate details put into these pieces, from the futuristic design to elaborate weathering and functional electronics. Just look at that plasma rifle! Check out more props from this film available for purchase here.
We hit the floor at San Diego Comic-Con to visit a few of our friends, starting with the artists at Weta Workshop. Weta brought costumes they built for films like the new Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings, and Netflix's Spectral. We chat with costume tech Darin Gordine about the making of these pieces and how costume fabrication has changed in the studio's storied history.
Adam fulfills his lifelong dream of becoming King Arthur from the film Excalibur at San Diego Comic-Con! This year's costume is a full suit of armor from Excalibur, made by legendary armorer Terry English who made all the armor for the film. Adam spent over a week at Terry's shop assisting with this build, culminating in this beautiful shiny suit that's surprisingly comfortable to move in!
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this weekend, and by most accounts, the film is a triumph (93% fresh on RottenTomatoes). I'm really excited to see it on the big screen, since it was shot in 65mm to explicitly showcase the film's landscapes and larger-than-life sets. We were on one of those sets over a year and a half ago, while the film was in mid-production. Fox invited us out to visit the shoot, on a massive outdoor prison built a few miles away from Vancouver. The Canadian winter was an ideal backdrop for this sprawling snowy set, which had its own set of railroad tracks, grungy barracks, and a towering battle-worn wall that separates soldier and simian.
The enormity and tangibility of this built-out world stands in contrast to the film's computer-generated heroes--this Planet of the Apes trilogy has anchored itself in its ability to meld the real and the digital. Actors like Andy Serkis and Steve Zahn do their best to give performances in tight-fitting performance-capture suits, but their performance is really a collaboration with the animators and special effects artists who turn mo-cap data into the characters you see on screen. On set, we sat in a roundtable interview with visual effects producer Ryan Stafford, who worked with director Matt Reeves and the effects team at Weta Digital to realize the digital characters and environments in the film. Here are some highlights from that conversation.
Every time we do a shot, we do it in a variety of ways. On a traditional movie, you set up the camera, you set up your characters, you roll, get the performances you want, and you move on. Well, when we get the performances we want, we say "great, let's do that again without the actors." So we pull the actors out of the shot and we replicate the camera move as closely as possible using motion control and a lot of other tricks to get it as accurate as possible. And then we run the whole take "clean"--and if there's a human character in it, then they have to act to nothing. Sometimes we put a piece of tape up with fishing wire, and that's their eye line. And they have to re-enact the entire performance to nothing, to thin air, to a piece of tape.
The apes proportions--their anatomy--are different from humans. It's very close. We've made Caesar just a few inches shorter than Andy Serkis. And the build is similar. But where his joints are are different than Andy's. His arms are much longer. His legs are shorter, his chest is more barreled. So when we put Caesar on top of Andy in the shot, there's a lot of Andy left. And we have to paint that out. Painting out things is very expensive, it's very labor intensive, it's very complex, especially when you have very dynamic camera movements. So we do it all on a clean plate in hopes that it's as dynamic as with the actors in it so we don't have to paint anything out.
We use both. It's kind of a mixed bag. Our ideal scenario is a clean plate but we have maybe a 60% success rate with that. We still have to do a lot of cleanup with actors still in the shot. That's mostly performance driven. The reality is that you're going to get a better performance from a human character when they're acting against someone else in frame. Particularly Andy, who has such a great presence, you get a much different experience than if someone's acting against thin air. In those instances, we take the clean plate, and use that information to do an overlay, try to get as much information, and steal as information as we can.