Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Christopher, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, we have seen that they test each part individually while building. There's probably a preliminary test of the whole apparatus, but that gets edited out since it's more dramatic if the audience doesn't see the whole thing put together until the big reveal.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Since the Mythbusters threads generally don't run too long, anyone mind if we just use this as a combined thread for the whole season?

    This week was "Fire vs. Ice," which apparently is the name of a viral video pitting a fire extinguisher against a flamethrower -- which doesn't make sense, since a fire extinguisher uses carbon dioxide, not cold, to smother a flame. Okay, a compressed gas does get pretty cold when it's released, but that's a far cry from being "ice." One strike against the video right there.

    It's a little unclear to me exactly what the viral video showed, since they didn't show the whole thing. Was it just about using an extinguisher to deflect the flame from a flamethrower, or to put it out altogether? Adam & Jamie were acting as though it was the latter, but the clips never got that far. Anyway, they showed that deflecting it was barely feasible with a really powerful, souped-up fire extinguisher (and Adam's modification adding a water feed actually did make it "ice" this time), but not with a more conventional one as supposedly used in the video. As for dousing it, clearly that's not going to happen unless the actual ignition source on the flamethrower itself is engulfed in CO(sub)2 long enough to put it out, and that's not going to happen from a distance, as we saw.

    I wish they'd addressed how the illusion in the video was created, but otherwise, a decent test and result, if a bit simple. (I also wonder -- if making a flamethrower is so illegal, how did the video makers get away with it?)


    Dust cloud kidnapping: I've never seen the movie this is from (or even heard of it, as far as I can recall), but it was an interesting thing to test. They really managed to punch a lot of holes in the movie's idea that a bunch of SUVs kicking up a dust cloud could obscure a kidnapping from an overhead UAV/drone. The difficulty of driving safely in a dust cloud, the fact that circling the subject doesn't kick up enough dust in the center, and most of all the fact that UAVs have thermal imaging which could see right through the dust. And it wasn't that difficult for the Mythbusters (or their research/writing team?) to come up with a better solution than the one in the movie! Seriously, why aren't filmmakers hiring these guys as consultants by this point?


    As for this week's Unchained Reaction, for once I didn't have a clear preference or any disagreement with the outcome. Both teams' machines worked very smoothly (although there were a couple of points where it seemed they wouldn't and then they did) and were both creative in their own ways, and the motorcycle team managed to overcome the handicap of a team member dropping out. (I wonder if it really was just "stress" or if that was a TV-friendly substitute for something else. None of my business, though.) Though I agree that having the guy just drive off on the motorcycle at the end was cheating a bit. The creature-FX team's machine was more imaginative and funny but a bit gruesome for my tastes.

    I'm really wondering if the timing of events on this show corresponds to real life. Is it practical for Adam and Jamie to fly from SF to LA twice a week just to do their host segments? I'm wondering if it's like Mythbusters where the intro segments are actually recorded afterward and they just pretend it's before.
     
  3. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    unchained reaction hasn't started in Canada to my knowlege so haven't seen it but is there anything to indicate that they do film the host segments in LA?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They do make a big deal about how the warehouse setting for the show is in LA. Adam and Jamie always finish the intros by saying "We have to go back to San Francisco now, so Charles here will be our eyes and ears." I don't see any reason for them to lie about where it takes place.
     
  5. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a youtube video, which means no prosecutor in the universe would be able to prove conclusively that it's not faked (especially when the Mythbusters just busted it for the creators), which means it's not evidence of anybody actually making and using a flamethrower.
     
  6. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Works for me, I'd PM one of the TV/M mods to rename the thread something more generic. "Mythbusters Discussion Thread" or something.

    The Fire v. Ice myth was an interesting one to test but not surprised at the results. Though this is one I'd like to see them "ramp up" in a revisit. The problem I see even with the water Adam's device is still pretty much shooting a gas, the flame-thrower is throwing something with "substance" to it either the liquid fuel or the plasma of the fire, what's more is it's being constantly fed by the tank and the fire is always keeping the fuel lit as it exits the nozzle. It's like trying to stop a freight train moving at 80 mph with a puff of air.

    They'd need a pretty supersized and well-thought out "fire extinguisher" to re-create the (obviously CGI) effect of the viral video. Probably an extinguisher powered by LN2 or something because still with the device Adam built that "worked' it was pretty pathetic.

    On the Jr. team's efforts, I'm sort of surprised they didn't go with a robotic/RC rig to create the circular dust storm. Such a rig would eliminate the human element and wouldn't be as restricted by speed, etc. They could've essentially built a merry-go-round with the cars locked into a turn and operated remotely and have them drive at high-speed to generate a lot of dust. Stop. Have Kari get into one of the cars and then see if Grant could guess which one when the dust settles. (No need to do the "guess which car driving off in what direction aspect.)

    I don't see why the illusion would need to be addressed, it's the loss of the "magic" in movie making. It was obviously CGI.

    As for the legality thing, my understanding is that flame-throwers aren't strictly illegal -at least not a Federal level- but were illegal under California law.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Good idea. Maybe specifying it's for the 2012 season.


    From what I understand, there's relatively little actual plasma in a normal flame; it's mostly just incandescent gas. In this case, with gasoline as the substance undergoing combustion, the reaction products (the constituents of the flame) would be mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor, plus carbon monoxide if some of the combustion was incomplete. So since Adam's souped-up extinguisher blew out carbon dioxide and aerosolized water/ice, it was basically a duel between two clouds of nearly identical chemical composition, differing only in temperature and pressure. As you say, the stream of uncombusted gasoline from the flamethrower might be a factor, but it looked to me like most of the liquid was falling to the ground before it reached Adam's "little house."

    You know, I never realized that before -- that flame is made out of the same substances that are generally used to put out fires. So "fighting fire with fire" isn't so far off, in a way. (And this is why fires generally don't burn long in microgravity. Without convection to spirit the hot gases away, they smother the ignition source and cut off its oxygen.)


    CGI? No way. I've never seen computer animation that can so accurately replicate the fluid dynamics of fire or clouds, and there's no way some viral video creators could have access to such sophisticated tech if it existed.

    I found the actual YouTube video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTMcPXNreis

    The flame and vapor elements are definitely real, and mostly the illusion is created simply through editing and composition. There are only a few long shots showing the full scene of the flame stream and the CO2 cloud meeting, and the rest is close-ups of the individual "combatants" and the streams/clouds in midair. Classic old-school FX psychology: do just a brief shot to sell the illusion and then let the audience's mind fill in the rest. I think that for the long shots they probably filmed a smaller-scale pyro/vapor element and composited it into the scene, since the vapor cloud seems too big to be emanating from a normal fire extinguisher and I'm not sure the arc of the flamethrower stream is dipping as much as it should over that distance (see the shot at 2:48).

    And the Mythbusters' approach was misleading, I think. They seemed to be testing whether the extinguisher could douse the flamethrower, but the video only shows it deflecting the flame and keeping its wielder safe until the flamethrower runs out of gas. And I think the results showed that to be borderline plausible, at least given a powerful enough extinguisher (and maybe a less potent flamethrower; Jamie's seemed to produce a much bigger flame than the one in the video).


    But part of the movie myth was that it could be done by human-driven cars. It wasn't just the dust issue they were testing, but the whole scenario.


    I would like it to be addressed because I'm interested in how special effects are created. And the Mythbusters have done that before with a number of their movie myths -- not only busted the depicted scene but explained how it was really done.
     
  8. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Well, I think the "magic" of special effects is long lost as now things are mostly CGI when comes to effects. I used to watch and love SFX BTS videos on movies as it was interesting to see how things were achieved. Now days it's like, "Yeah we had a team of people looking at computer screens for 10 hours a day compiling lines of code." But, again, this assumes the effect was done with CGI and wasn't some sort of practical effect. If it was a practical effect, yeah, seeing how it was done could be interesting.

    On the front of the Jr. team testing "if it could be done" hence why they didn't use robotic cars for the test... Yeah, but...

    I didn't catch it when they were setting up the myth and I've never seen the movie either but I suspect in the movie they may have been professionals of some sort who -one could argue- would be better adept at driving a car in low-visibility conditions as opposed to a group of people who spent an afternoon or two at a stunt-driving school.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Still, they proved that people who spent an afternoon or two at a stunt-driving school could in fact pull it off, so that makes it plausible that more experienced professionals could do so as well. It did the job.

    And I think that video shows that there is still more to special effects than CGI. That's one tool in the kit, but there's still plenty of room for practical effects, miniatures, optical illusions, and simple misdirection and psychological sleight-of-hand. The fact is, it's hard to make computer-generated images look and behave like real physical objects. It takes a great deal of hard work and skill to force the machine to go against its natural preference to make everything look smooth, clean, and mathematically precise. So unless you have a big-budget movie's worth of time, money, and expertise to devote to it, CGI looks pretty fake. So there's still a very real and important place for other FX techniques.

    As I said, this video fell back on some of the simplest, oldest techniques that are all about suggestion -- cut between one guy firing left and another guy firing right, and the viewer's mind puts the pieces together and perceives it as two guys firing at one another, even if in reality the two scenes were shot far apart in space or time. Then insert some shots of the flame and cloud meeting, and that links the other two scenes in the viewer's mind, even if they were shot separately in a studio or something. There were maybe three brief composite shots of the full scene, but otherwise, the only "special effect" involved was editing. And that's interesting.

    But that's not the main reason I wish they'd addressed how the illusion was created. I think if you're going to bust something as fake, part of proving that should ideally be demonstrating how the fakery was done, revealing what it is we're really seeing.
     
  10. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    True enough, and if anyone could do it Jamie and Adam could. I'll have to watch the video again but the fire had a "cheap CGI" look to it which is why I instantly went that route.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Up close, it was clearly real flame. I did see a bit of posterization in the long shot, but I took that to be just an artifact of the video's resolution, though it could've been a function of the compositing.

    Either way, "CGI" is the wrong term for that. That stands for computer-generated imagery, i.e. an image created entirely within a computer with no live photographed elements. I've seen CGI fire and it looks totally fake. At most, this was a live pyro element that was digitally composited into the scene in the few long shots they did. That's not computer-generated, just computer-manipulated.
     
  12. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Interesting... it says they shot it entirely in-camera. So either the fire and vapor were real and full-scale or there was some kind of forced-perspective illusion going on -- but in the latter case there would've needed to be some VFX for the interactive lighting on the ground beneath the flame.

    It's possible this could be real; the main issue is that the cloud from the fire extinguisher seems improbably big. But then, it was shot at night and the cloud was brightly lit, so that might've made it seem bigger and more impressive than Adam's small-scale test in the daytime. And the fire stream here seems smaller than the one from Jamie's flamethrower. It's possible Jamie just overbuilt his.

    Also, if it was real, then timing was an issue. It was edited to look like the flamethrower fired first, but in the long shots, compared to what the Mythbusters achieved, it looked to me like the extinguisher must've fired first and gotten up a good wall of CO2 to block the flame.

    But there's still one reason to suspect VFX were used in the long shots, and that's safety. If this was a professionally produced music video instead of a bunch of idiots goofing around, then I doubt they would've permitted one person to fire a flamethrower directly toward another person with only a fire extinguisher as protection.
     
  14. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    It is a professional production, this was a commercial promotion for Diesel clothing and the band Dancing Pigeons.

    http://vimeo.com/13639493 note the credits
    http://www.blinkprods.com/#artist_tomasmankovsky
     
  15. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished watching it; pretty good episode. I was more surprised by the dust cloud kidnapping than the title myth. Who knew a fire extinguisher can block IR cameras?

    I think you could get away with a forced perspective-type gag in one or two ways without needing to VFX anything. As you said, it looks like Jamie's flame thrower was overpowered, and the link Mr. Adventure provided said the ad people build a custom fire extinguisher to get the 30-foot plume of CO2. With that in mind, it appears the flame thrower and extinguisher used in the ad may have petered out of their own accord at the 30-foot mark without needing to meet head-on. So I'm thinking they either offset the actors by a few feet so they were firing past each other, or they were each angled a little bit so the two streams mixed at a spot off to one side. As these terrible photoshops show:

    Option 1
    [​IMG]


    Option 2
    [​IMG]


    I spent way longer making those than I would care to admit.

    The advantage of option 2 is that it would allow the interactive lighting at the tip of the extinguisher's blast, since the streams are actually mixing. On the other hand, if they knew in advance how far each would fire, they could have just spaced the actors far enough apart to be safe and had them fire at each other for real. Sounds like they controlled the props pretty carefully.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's quite plausible, and I appreciate the effort you put into the graphics. Why didn't I think of that? And maybe in the long shots, the person with the extinguisher was wearing some kind of safety gear, just in case.

    Still, the problem with the "petered out" idea is that, as I said, the stream from the flamethrower is travelling pretty straight across that entire 25-30 feet, not dipping much due to gravity. So it must've been shot out at considerable speed and could probably have reached the rest of the way, or nearly so. That could still be consistent with your model #2, though. We only saw a couple of shots of the flame and vapor interacting, so they could've simply cut away before the flamethrower stream moved much past the front of the vapor cloud.
     
  17. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Meh. For some reason I was bored to tears this week. Except when Kari was on screen.

    They sure do repeat the setup over and over and over and over and over and over and....
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I asked about that once over on the MB fan club forum, and apparently there's a reason the producers do that. IIRC, it has something to do with the fact that the show is often shown in classrooms and maybe they only have time to show one or two segments per class, so it helps to recap the basics of the myth at the top of each segment.
     
  19. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting. I'd always figured it was to orient any viewers who drop in on the middle of the episode, since the recaps tend to come when they cut back to any given build after a commercial break. (Like how dramas will often have somebody restate whatever the dramatic hook was at the end of the previous act. Character 1: "The macguffan is gone!" Cut to commercial. Cut back to show. Character 2: "What do you mean, the macguffan is gone?" The drama picks up where they left off.)
     
  20. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Oh, so true! It's never boring when Kari's present! :drool: :drool: :drool:

    Tell me; who else here was disappointed that Kari was not present (or in a condition) to wear the infamous Theiss miniskirt uniform when they analyzed the "Gorn cannon" myth?

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     

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