For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares his love of the Star Trek Tricorder prop that was built for The Next Generation show and subsequent Trek series and films. The props used for production were upgraded over time with better electronics, and Roddenberry's new Mark IX Tricoder is a fine replica of the ones seen in First Contact.
Adam Savage's replica of The Overlook Maze model from The Shining is one of his more complex projects in recent memory, given the timetable required for the build and the sheer amount of focused work needed for it. Adam, Will, and Norm sit down to discuss the planning and execution of the replica, running through Adam's research, in-progress photos, and documentation. Be sure to first watch the full video showing off the project!
A few photos from the build, as well as the pictures from our photo session before shipping Adam's Overlook Maze model off to the next stop of the <a href="http://www.stanleykubrick.de/en/ausstellungstour-exhibition-on-tour/">Stanley Kubrick travelling exhibition</a> in Mexico!
Over the span of a month, Adam designed and built an accurate replica of the hedge maze architectural model from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The maze model, as seen in The Overlook Hotel, is only seen briefly, but reference screenshots from throughout the film allowed Adam to painstakingly recreate it. The project ended up as one of Adam's more labor-intensive builds in recent memory! (Watch our follow-up in-depth discussion of this maze build here.)
If you can forgive the campy presentation, CNN's tour of the Warner Bros. prop archive is pretty neat. I've seen plenty of videos of the props and costumes on display at the Warner Bros. studio tour in Hollywood, but this warehouse of wardrobe and vehicles from films like Gravity, The Dark Knight, and Harry Potter is like the propmaker's version of Raiders of the Lost Ark's Hanger 51. Some additional photos from that visit here.
I'm not sure about the origins of this featurette (it may have been for an old DVD release in the late 90s or early 2000s) but it's an awesome behind-the-scenes look at the practical effects produced for the original Robocop. Interviews with matte painter Rocco Gioffre, designer Craig Hayes (who built ED-209), production designer William Sandell, and of course animator Phil Tippett paint a comprehensive picture of the production process. There's some interesting insight into how these artists didn't just employ techniques like matte paintings and stop-motion animation, they invented some in-camera innovations just for the film. (h/t Reddit)
For a segment on movie production and video games, UK's Sky News visited Shepperton Studios to speak with different propmakers about the use of 3D printing for Hollywood costume. 3D printing as a tool for prototyping helmets, armor, and weapons is something that both professional and amateur propmakers have been tinkering with in recent years, and it's neat to see familiar props from films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Prometheus at these workshops. Aside from the Objets in use at fabrication shops like IPFL, many of the tools users are available to consumers. For example, the AgiSoft's photogrammetry software we used for our papercraft head models last year is the same used at FBFX for modeling actors for digital prop fittings.
For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares a new figure created by Sideshow Collectibles in their Star Wars line of sixth scale replicas. This is one of the finest R2-D2 reproductions we've seen at this size, with articulating dome, touch-activated lights, magnetic panels, and plenty of accessories. All its missing is sound effects--you'll have to provide the beeps and boops yourself.
Weta Digital is up for an Academy Award for the company's visual effects work on last year's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The film has some of the best digital characters I've seen on screen, and this video from Weta explains how that was made possible with a combination of new performance capture tools and manual animation. These digital performances are always a collaboration between actor and animator, even though the two may never meet. The brief explanation of how Weta artists built the apocalyptic San Francisco is also really interesting. For further reading, Digitaltrends has a more in-depth examination of the technologies used for the film.
In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, one detail that appears on-screen for only a second are the soles of Uma Thurman's shoes. Those sneakers aren't off-the-shelf Onitsuka Tigers--they have the phase "FUCK U" molded right into the treading. It's a prop we've wanted to replicate for a long time, and we're finally able to do it with the help of effects artist Frank Ippolito. Here's how you can make your own pair! (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!)
This is awesome. Filmmaker Jamie Benning interviewed puppeteer Toby Philpott about the puppeteering of Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi for this short documentary. The behind-the-scenes footage from inside Jabba is incredible--four people worked together to bring him to life. Quite a bit more complicated than the inflatable Jabba used in George Lucas' Super Live Adventure show. (h/t Gizmodo)
Despite the film's tepid reviews (currently 22% on RottenTomatoes), I was compelled to watch the Wachowski siblings' new film Jupiter Ascending this weekend. It was partially due to Angela Watercutter's recent Wired column reminding me that no one makes films like the Wachowskis, even if they're more often misses than hits, of late. They're masterful world builders, and can spend $150 million to show you things you've never seen before on film. Among those in this movie: badass space cops, robot bureaucrats, evolved dinosaur soldiers, and perhaps the most technically impressive chase sequence I've ever seen. Closing the first act of the film is an extended aerial chase through the skyline of Chicago in the minutes during daybreak. Gizmodo reports that this sequence was shot in six-minute increments over a span of six months, using a custom helicopter-mounted camera rig that both stabilized the shooting and meshed together footage from six 5K RED Epics. Bullet-time for cityscapes.
In the final cut, what made the scene look so incredible was that the background plate was actual footage of Chicago, not a CG recreation as is often the case. Think about a film like Man of Steel or even Matrix Revolutions, where the aerial fights are composites of either CG actors in miniature sets, blue-screen actors on top of CG sets, or completely computer generated. Superman fighting Zod through Metropolis' skyscrapers doesn't feel real because those buildings aren't real--there's a false sense of space. In Jupiter Ascending, stunt actors were actually dangling on helicopters flying at 50 mph while being filmed with the custom rig. You get a real sense of space and place, and it's exhilarating.
Pictorvision, the makers of the Multicam Array, have since offered their services for films like this year's Avengers 2 and Furious 7, which may explain how they shot that ridiculous car-crashing skyscraper sequence in the latter film's recent superbowl ad.
We were extremely privileged to visit the Los Angeles branch of the legendary Jim Henson Creature Shop, where fabricators, animators, and puppeteers carry on the craft made famous by Henson. Our video interview with the shop's Creative Supervisor explored puppeteering history and some cool new modern technologies, but I wanted to give you guys a sense of the scope of workshop. It really is a fabricator's paradise, with tools for machining, moldmaking and casting, electronics work, and of course, puppet building. There was a lot we couldn't photograph or show on video, but my favorite room was the puppet fabrication space, where walls were lined with shelves of foam, mulit-colored fabric, and puppet components (like eyes). Thanks so much to the Jim Henson Creature Shop team for letting us stop by!
When we talk about puppets in television and film, Jim Henson is the first name that comes to mind. Henson's legacy endures at his Creature Shop, where fabricators, engineers, and animators continue crafting the art of puppet-making and performance. We're privileged to be able to visit Jim Henson's Creature Shop, where we chat with Creative Supervisor Peter Brooke to learn how modern technologies combine with classic techniques to bring characters to life.
RC Quad builder Oliver_C modified his custom FPV racing quadcopter with a thick polystyrene hull to resemble the Millennium Falcon. The skin modification, complete with bright LED strips for the thrusters and headlights, added just 300 grams to the quad's 800g. That, along with balancing, made the quad still flyable, though not as efficiently as before--max speed and flight time were reduced, and it was very susceptible to wind. Oliver's build log for the quad is on RCgroups, and the mod photos on Imgur. Video of his flights with the completed mod embedded below. (h/t Reddit)1
"Le Gouffre is the first animated short film produced and directed by Lightning Boy Studio, a young creative team based in Montreal. The film tells the story of two spirited travelers who come across an incredibly wide chasm on their journey and decide to build a bridge to cross it." It reminds me a little bit of the video game Brothers, and a little bit of Fable--the painted aesthetic helps. The short was animated over two years and funded through a Kickstarter campaign. There's also a nice behind-the-scenes video here.
We spend the day at the incredible Hollywood Costume exhibition currently on display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles! Adam Savage explores the gallery with his friend and exhibit curator Deborah Nadoolman Landis--the designer of Indiana Jones' iconic costume. They discuss the role of the costume design in cinematic storytelling and the wonderful stories behind some of the 150 costumes on display.