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    LEGO with Friends: Lepin Saturn V, Part 2

    Our lessons learned so far from building this Lepin version of the LEGO Saturn V set: the pieces are more rigid, don't snap together as nicely, and the screenprinting is off! The price we pay for going with a knockoff! But we must continue, while Bobak, Simone, and Norm chat about the state of space travel and exciting offworld missions.

    Storyboarding a Stop-Motion Animated Film

    Stop-Motion Animation isn't just about puppets--traditional 2D artists visualize the action of the film with storyboards. We chat with one of Aardman's storyboard artists to learn how fast they work to create a rough sketch version of the film most people will never see.

    LEGO with Friends: Lepin Saturn V, Part 1

    Bobak Ferdowsi joins us this week to take on a space-themed set! But this set isn't any normal build--it's actually a LEPIN knockoff that we imported overseas. Let's see how it compares to building the real LEGO set!

    Offworld, Episode 3: Sunshine (2007)

    On this episode of Offworld, we revisit the Danny Boyle science fiction film Sunshine, in which a crew is sent to reignite the Sun. We're joined by astrophysicist and Professor of Astronomy Gibor Basri to discuss the science of the film and which parts hold up (and the parts that don't). What would the bomb the size of Manhattan do to the Sun?

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 39: High-End Photogrammetry for VR

    Virtual reality environments can be built manually, like video game levels, but they can also be constructed using real-world imagery and scanning. We visit the offices of Cyark, an organization that travels around the world documenting historical sites using advanced scanning equipment, converting some of those scans to explore in VR.

    Totally Unauthorized Commentary: Galaxy Quest (1999)

    Adam and Norm are joined by Tested's own Kishore Hari to watch one of our favorite science fiction films: Galaxy Quest! Adam shares some stories about his modelmaking work on the film, we discuss the efficiency of the script, and praise the casts' spot-on performances.

    On the Shooting Set of Aardman Animations' Early Man!

    Adam Savage steps onto one of the film stages at Aardman Animations, where a complex and detailed miniatures set is ready for stop-motion filming. Chatting with one of the Animation Directors of the film, Adam learns how the puppets are mounted on these sets to make them come alive, one frame at a time.

    Visiting the Niagara Aerospace Museum

    I've now lived in Buffalo for about eight months and I'm only just beginning to realize the rich aviation-related history of this area. I've learned that Western New York was an important hub of aerospace technology for many years. In fact, some of America's most important and iconic aircraft and spacecraft have roots in Buffalo. My education on such matters recently got significant boost when I visited the Niagara Aerospace Museum (NAM).

    The primary focus of NAM is to showcase the aviation and space-related legacy of the Buffalo area. There are numerous complete airplanes and helicopters on display, several partial ones, as well as tons of engines and other smaller artifacts. Most of the hardware was designed and built in Western New York.

    NAM is located at the entrance to the Niagara Falls International Airport. It is about a 15 minute drive from the US side of the actual falls. I think it's totally feasible to fit both attractions into one day.

    Preserved World War II Veteran

    A centerpiece in the NAM collection is the fuselage from a WWII-era Bell P-39 Airacobra. Like many aircraft that were no longer in production when the war ended, P-39s are somewhat of a rare finds these days. A quick head count indicates three P-39s in flying condition and ten on static display in the US. Even among such exclusive company, NAM's P-39 has an exceptional and somewhat tragic history.

    Like all P-39s, the example at NAM was built just a stone's throw away at the former Bell Aircraft plant. This was one of the thousands of Airacobras provided to the Soviet Air Force under the Lend-Lease program. It was flown from Buffalo to Alaska via a network of US and Canadian staging bases. Russian pilots then ferried the little fighter from Fairbanks to the western border of Russia near Finland, overflying vast stretches of the Siberian tundra.

    This P-39 Airacobra crash-landed on a frozen lake during WWII. It was pulled from the water after 60 years.

    The P-39 was not popular among US pilots who were assigned to fly the unique mid-engined fighter in combat. Russian pilots, however, generally liked their Airacobras…especially the reliable radios. A recovered log book indicates that NAM's P-39 served with the Soviet Air Force in action against the Finnish Air Force. In November of 1944, engine trouble forced Lieutenant Ivan Baranovsky to bring the Airacobra in for an emergency landing on the frozen surface of an arctic lake.

    Designing the Stop-Motion Sets of Aardman Animation's Early Man!

    Even though a stop-motion animated film is shot at a smaller-than-life scale, the sets and environments that need to be built for its clay characters can still be massive. Adam Savage enters the production design room at Aardman Animations to learn how Early Man's sets are blueprinted, prototyped, and then finally built to be filmed, one frame at a time.

    Let's Build: Tiny Tesla Coil, Part 3

    After over a month of troubleshooting, Jeremy, Sean, and Norm regroup to give an update on the Tiny Tesla Coil build. Bad controller boards and blown fuses may have gotten the better of us. But not all is lost--we have some footage of the Tesla Coil working!

    Let's Build: Tiny Tesla Coil, Part 2

    Sean and Norm continue on the build while Jeremy goes off-screen to troubleshoot the MIDI controller board. Without a working board, we won't be able to play music and get the Tesla Coil working. Cross our fingers and hope it works out!

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 38: Sprint Vector and In Death!

    Jeremy and Norm review two new game releases. The first is Sprint Vector, the VR racing game that's like a mix between cross country skiing and Mario Kart--it's one of the more physically demanding VR games we've played. We also play a community recommendation: In Death, a rougelike we found both thrilling and rewarding.

    Let's Build: Tiny Tesla Coil, Part 1

    Jeremy, Norm, and Sean take on a build that wowed us at Maker Faire: a tiny desktop Tesla Coil that plays music! As we solder the pieces together, we're using the kit to try to better understand how a Tesla Coil works!

    Organizing a Stop-Motion Film Production at Aardman Animations

    Adam Savage visits Aardman Animations, where the studio is in production for its new film Early Man. A stop-motion film production requires many departments to work together to film dozens of scenes concurrently--so how is all of this organized? In chatting with Early Man's first Assistant Director Ben Barrowman, Adam learns how a sprawling film production is kept on track for its filming deadlines!

    Combining 3D Printed Models with Laser-Cut Parts

    Sean shares one of his personal projects: a LEGO-inspired computer console that's based off of the classic blue LEGO computer brick. He originally designed it to be purely 3D-printed, but has been experimenting with using laser cutting to replace some of its parts. Here are some of his lessons learned from combining 3D printing with laser cutting on our Universal Systems laser cutter.

    Animating Stop-Motion Characters at Aardman Animations

    Adam Savage visits the animation offices at Aardman, where Will Becher, Animation Director of Early Man walks us through the development of the film's characters. We learn how the personalities of the characters were developed, brought to life, and kept consistent through the filming process. Watch the trailer for Aardman Animations' Early Man here.

    Science in Progress: D-I-Y Home Centrifuge

    Centrifuges are typically found in the lab, but with this 3D printed design, we can tap into its awesome power in the home! Kishore and Indre bring in our 3D printing expert to help make this kit work, and put some centripetal force on some fruit.

    Bits to Atoms: Painting the Spooky Space Kook!

    In this bonus episode of Bits to Atoms, watch the full painting and finishing process for the Spooky Space Kook animatronic mod, guided by modelmaker Kayte Sabicer. Kayte walks Sean through prep and painting, explaining tips and techniques of each step so you can follow along with your own projects.