Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Shooting Mythbusters – 4/15/2014

This week, Adam, Will, and Norm discuss the way technology has changed over the last 11 years that Mythbusters has been in production. Topics include advanced high-speed cameras, the rise of the GoPro, and the way the production uses multi-rotor helicopters. Also, Adam tells a joke. Enjoy!

Comments (37)

37 thoughts on “Shooting Mythbusters – 4/15/2014

  1. Yay! Quads are so fun – mostly because you don’t so much fly them as steer them – the onboard computer does the flying, you just point it where you want it to go.

  2. I have been waiting for this technology for years. I am very excited that not only is it here, but it is rapidly improving on an exponential scale. The dream of hanging a camera in the air and gently pushing it to where you want it to go, rock steadily smooth, is finally here.

  3. yesterday i watched some old episodes of mythbusters and i noticed that for some shots they mounted big boxes for example in cars to get good near footage, were today they just simply use goPros. you can cleary see how they used and profited from the improvements of the new technology. i even wanted to write you if you can ask Adam about that topic and his point if view. and now you have uploaded the latest podcast and answered my question.

    absolutly mindmelting and mindblowing.

    thank you from an austrian long term lurker and Podcast fan

    ps. : i also noticed how Adam changed in all the years and he never looked better than today !

  4. Towards the end Adam says that Mythbusters falls in the category of scripted reality. How much of the show is scripted? Or is the shows just outlined before, and comments are improvised?

  5. Using standard format like SD helps a lot. It means that I can keep back up SD card for both my still camera and video in the same bag. Having run out of card at critical times, I keep lots of spares.

    I wonder how safe quadcopters are in crowded environments. I’ve got some ideas for shots, but I don’t think I would like to try them.

  6. I think what he means specifically is that they are in the Scripted Reality category when they get nominated for an Emmy.

    It is “scripted” in the sense that the episodes are roughly outlined ahead of filming, though Adam says these outlines are vague enough to allow for complete restructuring if experiments give surprising results. The connecting pieces and myth-intros are written, which is usually obvious. And often supposedly successive experiments are done without any build-time inbetween.

    The last point is really the only one that isn’t always fully obvious to viewers, but often the locations give it away since it wouldn’t *really* be practical to return to M5/M7 and build the “whatever it takes”-solutions. So that when they feel pretty confident that the myth will not work full scale, both the “as-told” test and the “whatever-it-takes” test are built up front and both experiments shot the same day, but in the narrative of the episode they are separated and a build-sequence shown inbetween the two.

    I’ve been a volunteer for a few episodes and they always adjusted the tests on-the-fly as they saw preliminary results come in. There were very few retakes outside misspoken instructions or filler-jokes and the episode followed closely to the timeline of events.

  7. The Samaritan takes a 22 millimeter cartridge. For comparison, a .50 caliber is 13 mm. She’s a big girl. 🙂

  8. I’d love to see an article about Duncan’s octocopter– it sounds really cool.

    My undergraduate engineering capstone design project was to build an aerial photography drone. At the time (fall 2008/spring 2009), inexpensive RC quadcopters were just starting to show up on the market, and integrated systems like the Phantom Vision copters were basically nonexistent– our system ended up taking an X3D quadcopter and bolting on a Pentax P&S camera (this was prior to GoPro’s rise to prominence, and the Pentax we used had the (at the time) unique combination of built-in image stabilization, remote triggerability, and composite video output for live POV video) with a custom mount, remote trigger, and video transmitter. It produced some impressive videos (and really great photos, which were really the focus of the system) for the time.

    Since then, it’s been neat seeing how the market’s evolved– from things like the original Parrot AR drone bringing cheap, integrated POV video (which, in our system, was very much a hack) to the new Phantom Vision+ with its built-in stabilization gimbal (which, on our budget back in 2009, wasn’t something we could even dream about being able to do). I’d love to get back into it one of these days, should I happen to come across the time and the money to do so.

  9. *is having trouble editing my post*

    I’ve had a bit of an issue with how Mythbusters is shot and broadcast in HD, but the physical releases have so far been in SD. Top Gear has a similar issue, but it’s more infuriating because they released Seasons 16-20 in HD and then for some reason the BBC decided to can the HD release!

    Having watched nearly every Mythbusters episode on DVD, I have noticed the increase in camerawork quality over the years, especially in high speed. I remember the early days where the footage had this weird over-exposed-yet-under-exposed look to it, and now the show has footage that just looks like normal footage in slow-motion (which is how I think it should be!). I’ve also noticed that the Mythbusters have gained an affinity for using hi-vis paint and tape on a lot of their builds!

  10. I always thought they recorded the in-studio stuff after doing the related test, that way they know how it all pans out and can plan accordingly.

    I myself don’t mind that approach, but I do wish that they were less obvious about it.

  11. The real infuriating thing about MB dvds is that they don’t follow normal seasons, and are muddied by the “collections” where they just throw a bunch of episodes into a bag and sell it at a premium.

  12. I heard that they’re organized by what the budget is allocated for. You’re right on the missing episodes thing, it’s a shame how many of the specials like James Bond are left out of the normal boxsets and sold separately for no discernible reason.

  13. But what happened to Duncan’s airplane in Monument Valley? How did you lose it? I know it’s just how podcasting goes sometimes but I hate it when Adam gets interrupted halfway through a story.

  14. That was rather enjoyable. After converting the video to OGG for my audioplayer I listened to it while scaling sand dunes in the Middle East with a lot of gear in my pack.

    Two points of criticism: a.) It could have been longer beacuse you were talking about cameras; b.) Will is full of enthusiasm and bursting with ideas. But, Will, your articulation could use some work. I also talk very fast and try to put every bit of information of my current train of thought in one sentence, but for other humans it’s usually better to have silences between words and audible punctuations, where necessary. Or just talk slower for the rest of us.

  15. Hi Adam [ also Will and Norm]

    last year during the behind the myths tour in the USA i asked you on twitter when you were coming to Australia, i didn’t get a reply..i was a little disappointed but i found out about 3 weeks a go that you are indeed coming down under! my excitement was absurd just totally over the top

    i have waited a decade for you to come to Australia so i could come see you, i am a student and couldn’t afford the tickets at the time the pre-sale was happening a couple of weeks a go

    my in-laws knew how desperate i was to go and got me A reserve tickets[ would have loved VIP so i could meet you in person but i am so grateful for them getting tickets for me],

    the interesting thing is the 16th of august at 2pm in melbourne is the time i am seeing the show, but this is also the day after my 30th birthday, best birthday ever!

    it really is a dream come true after 10 years coinciding with my 30th birthday

    loved this weeks show and sorry for my long post but i really wanted Adam Will and Norm to read it

    Chris AU

  16. I worked TV production for 17 years and shot on a lot of Sony pro 3ccd television broadcast field camera’s as well as shot on Panasonic. It’s funny he mentions the love for these camera’s despite the weight. The weight is beneficial because they are easier to keep steady and as he said you can focus, zoom and control iris all at the same time with out much fuss. I have personally destroyed a few ENG field camera’s, dropped one from a tripod once broke the housing, the lens, lens mount about $3000 worth of damage. So impressed now with the detail level of the newer small cameras. The cool thing about the new camera is that they are so small and powerful you can do shots that would have been so much harder otherwise. I’ve left TV production now and work as a Graphic Designer but I still can operate a camera without thinking about it because ENG cameras are user oriented meaning they keep the same style no matter how much they change.

  17. I have a similar Sony camera to what Adam talked about called the HDR1. Despite the fact that it is now ancient, I use the HDR1 for interviews and outside work, because showing up with a camera like that instantly screams ‘professional’. When you are interviewing with a DLSR, no one takes you nearly as seriously, and it is much harder to get people to respond to candid interviews.

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