Tuesday, June 30, 2015

District 9 Wikus Costume Part 2.5

Here we go, have gotten pictures of the gun aesthetic work.

First thing I did was look for bits to add the gun. For most of the bits, I went over to ReCreate over in Roseville. They were incredibly helpful in helping me find what I was looking for and had a good variety of stuff.

I was very excited to find this empty canister. District 9 guns seem to all have canisters of some kind, so this will be perfect for adding to the gun. Only thing is I'm still not sure how to attach it to the bottom of the magazine at a 45' angle. I'll have to try and find a sloped object or try and make one out of the InstaMorph.

I don't know what these are, but they looked pretty cool so I thought they could possibly be used somewhere. Admittedly, I still don't know where to use them, or if I'll even end up using them. Time will tell.

If you look at the AMR-B05 from District 9, you can see it has quite a few smaller canisters along the edges of the top of the gun. I thought I could get the C02 cartridges you use in some gas airsoft guns, but I didn't know where to find those and thought they'd be a pain to work with with they're small end. Thankfully, ReCreate has a bin full of wine-bottle corks. While they don't look like the canisters on the AMR-B05, remember that I'm creating my own custom gun and I'm not really going for a specific one, so some difference in pieces/appearance is a-okay with me. I plan to detail these somehow and then paint them silver or chrome.

One idea I liked was having sort of spike-arm things sticking out of the front, similar to the Portal gun. I couldn't find anything to do that with at ReCreate, but I found these plastic stakes at Home Depot. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a pack of just 2, so I had to settle with a pack of 4. Now I just need to find something to use for the arm to hold out two of them on top of the gun. 

Finally, I ordered a thin, ribbed hose online to create some tubing on the gun. It's been taking a while to get here though. I might not be posting any pictures of it until it's already attached to the gun.

Last night I worked on getting the gun open to get an idea of the internals, as well as make it easier to paint the gun. It was an absolute pain to open it because the previous owner stripped one of the screws and glued a couple inside parts together, but my dad and I eventually got it open.

I took out some of the internals that fire darts, because they're taking up space I need for the electronics, and Stockton-Con doesn't allow gun props that are able to fire projectiles anyway. What I did keep in there are the trigger, magazine catch, barrel, and the slide at the top of the gun.

 I didn't care much for the magazine holders on the sides of the stock of the gun though, and I noticed that they weren't completely attached, so I started working to get the stock open. I soon found out that some of the bits were glued together, keeping both halves together. I didn't want those bits anyway, so I sawed them off.

Later I'll sand off the uneven cuts. I managed to get the magazine holder off, but I still didn't care much for how it looked... I still cant decide whether or not I should keep them on.

Trying to think of what I can do to solve this. Do I cut out part of the stock? Do I fill it in somehow? (Don't know how). So I just put up with the magazine holders? If you have any thoughts, send me a comment.

Next I'll be painting the gun and it's bits as well as working on the alien skin. Also, big thank you to ReCreate for helping me find what I needed for this project. If you're in the Roseville area, be sure to check them out. Here's a link to their website, check it out for their location and hours - > http://www.recreate.org/

T-Minus 39 days to Stockton-Con

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

District 9 Wikus Costume Part 2

T-Minus 45 days to Stockton-Con

Apologies for the long time between posts, I've been spending most of the time planning everything and just getting all the pieces together.

Since posting Part 1 I've gotten a lot more ambitious with the rifle. I've decided to add lights and sounds to it, a trigger function, and even make it so that the gun will not function without my alien hand (which will be changed later so that I can use it whenever without having to put on my alien hand).

I went to Sparkfun.com for most of the electronics, they seem to have a large range of different electronics for different projects.

First, the brain. I decided to go for a Pro Micro 3.3V Arduino Board, it was cheap and should be able to achieve the basic functions that I need. I also decided to get a Micro USB to Female USB and plan to have the Female USB part sticking out of the gun (with the Micro USB plugged into the Arduino) so that I can reprogram the gun later, if I need/want to.

Next is the soundboard and speaker. I got the Audio-Sound Breakout board and a PCB mount speaker. The microSD is what will carry the sounds that the soundboard will play through the speaker.

This gun's gonna need some power, so I got a 9V battery connector. My plan is to have the 9V battery in the gun's magazine and have the connector sticking out of the magazine well, allowing for easy and fast battery changing.

Six LEDs, 4 red ones that will always be on, and 2 blue ones that will light up when the trigger is pulled.

I've been using the scene in which Wikus is strapped down and forced to test fire the guns for references and I noticed that one or two of the guns have spinning bits. Hence this small motor.

The switch for turning the gun on, and the button to have behind the trigger mechanism. Not sure how exactly it will be put together, since I haven't been able to open the gun yet, due to a stripped screw, but I'm learning as I go here.

Here's the cool bit. This here's a reed switch. Basically, it's two metal bits held apart from each other that go together when you hold a magnet to it, allowing it to send a signal. My plan is to have a magnet in the alien hand so that the gun will not do anything unless the reed switch detects the magnet from my hand.

And then the various resistors, regulator and transistors.

Before I made the final purchase on all of these, I drew up a blueprint (with some help from my dad) on how it would all be connected together.

Right now I'm testing out all the electronics on a breadboard and learning how to program the Arduino (which I've named Neil) and the soundboard. I've picked up some different aesthetic pieces for the gun, but I'll go over those later. Mostly because I forgot to take pictures of them.

Finally, I've been making a bit of progress on the alien skin bits. I found some stuff called InstaMorph that comes as a jar of little plastic (non-toxic and biodegradable) pellets. You heat up some water and pour some pellets in and they melt into a moldable form for shaping and only takes a few minutes to dry into a really solid plastic. If you mess up at all, you can drop it back into the water or heat it with a hot air gun to reshape it. I practiced with a bit of it and painted it with a semi-gloss black paint I got from Hobby Lobby. In the end it turned out looking pretty cool, though I'll need to practice a bit more with the shaping.

I'll post more on the makeup part of the project and the aesthetics of the gun later, for now this is all I remembered to take photos of. Just a month and a half until Stockton-Con and I'm starting to feel a bit nervous about this project already.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

District 9 Wikus Costume Part 1

I love wearing costumes, as many internet peeps do, and I enjoy making them too, despite the fact that I'm not too experienced in making costumes. Because of my lack of experiences, I've had to occasionally resort to blogs to find out how to do certain parts. I considered making a blog for my last-year costume (Booker from Bioshock Infinite) but never got around to it. This year I decided to give it a shot (I might try and post something about my Booker one later). So, here's the first part of my costume for this year, Wikus from District 9. Keep in mind, I'm not experienced, so I'm not sure how well this will all turn out in the end. Also, I'm a college student, so I don't have a large amount of money to spend on this. I have until Stockton-Con on August 8th.

Let's get started...

For this part, all I can talk about is my plan. I'm planning on being mid-transformation, so I'll have alien-bits sticking out of my arm and face.

So far, my plan is to use liquid latex for much of the alien skin, but I am considering having the arm bits attached to the torn-up white casual shirt I'll be using, so that I can just slip on the alien bits and don't have to apply each and every piece when dressing up, but I'm not completely counting on that working. This will also be my first time using liquid latex, so it'll be a trial and error process in the beginning. I'm also planning on contacting my optometrist to see if I can get a prescription for colored contacts (as it's illegal to buy them, even non-corrective ones, without a doctor's prescription).

Part of what made me decide to be Wikus for this year was what I discovered while working on one of my animations. I was making an Aliens animation and used rotoscoping for much of it, including the alien. For that I made paper claws (the ones that one of your friends made in middle school) and recorded me doing some of the hand actions with them on. I found that if you layer the claws on one another, it doesn't look half bad and is somewhat sturdy. It made me think of Wikus' alien hand, and got me considering this whole thing.

Again, I'm not completely counting on this idea working, but my plan for the hand is to construct the fingers out of paper claws and find a way to further strengthen them. They will then be painted, of course. Worst case, this doesn't work and I might get a Halloween glove and work with that.

Originally I thought "No gun..." mainly because of the price of the props on Weta's website (and custom ones on the internet), until I noticed that some people had made them from Nerf guns. I have a Nerf Longstrike sitting around that could be perfect for this project.

 photo d88c_nerf_longstrike_rifle_parts.jpg photo DSC08655.jpg

It won't be an exact replica, but I want to get the general feel down. I'll probably only do a paint-job and attach a few canisters to it.

I'm looking forward to putting this thing together. This will be the first time that I will be using makeup for a costume that wasn't the crayon-like stuff you get at Party City (not saying those are bad at all). I'll try my best to keep this blog up to pace with this project so that you can see my process.