This Sunday Adam Savage and Vsauce’s Michael Stevens bring their patented brand of braininess to the Kimmel Center for one night only, with their Brain Candy Live! tour. The two hour show promises “crazy toys, incredible tools and mind-blowing demonstrations for a celebration of curiosity”. Combining Michael Stevens’ unique spin on common scientific principals with Adam’s homebrew inventions the pair hopes to give audiences an educational and entertaining night out fit for the whole family.
You can still snag tickets here.
In anticipation for the show I got a few moments to chat with Adam who after Mythbusters aside from his various live shows has been still been churning out some great content on YouTube. I asked about not only what we could expect from the show and what were his current prop projects and of course the conversation drifted to a galaxy, far, far away.
Hello Adam, first off I’m really excited to see how your online show translates to a live one.
It is so much fun! You know I am producing stuff on video all the time, its so much fun to get out in front of a live audience, the interaction is completely different and completely amazing.
So what can fans expect from Brain Candy Live! that they maybe haven’t seen on Mythbusters or your YouTube channel?
Science demonstrations! MythBusters was not a science demonstration show, we didn’t know the outcomes, we were guessing right along with the audience. That fundamentally made Myth Busters a different science show than anybody had ever made before. But what Michael and I have built is like a two hour magic show, but instead of magic its science. So its as if your high school science teacher had a Vegas budget to describe to you how things work.
Instead of just one demonstration about how this or that works, we go to five or six, or seven on similar concepts so by the time we’re done with you understand on a molecular, even an atomic level.
How did you get partnered with Michael Stevens from VSauce?
Actually it’s totally unremarkable. We are represented by the same agency and in 2015 when Jamie Hyneman wanted to stop touring with the Mythbusters Live Show my agency said what about Michael Stevens? I said “oh my god is that a possibility, because I’m a huge fan of Michael?” And it was a possibility. Michael and I started a conversation and we spent about a year developing this show. We brought in a third collaborator a magician and magic designer named Michael Weber. Michael’s been a collaborator and designer for David Blaine and Ricky Jay for decades.
We brought him in specifically because we wanted a magician’s sensibility to talk about science and its just been an incredible journey. We are super proud of the show and we love doing it.
So the show looks to combine Michael’s different perspective on things we already think we understand, paired with your inventions. What kind of prep work goes into one of these segments and building something to represent his points?
Well its very organic honestly. Michael Stevens, Michael Weber and I play around; we start with some rough ideas and we start talking about things we’d always like to try, we’d always like to try BIG SCALE! What if we tried this? What if we did that? Then this evolves into a conversation on weird things we know, weird things that we found, wonderful demonstrations that we just learned about and slowly over a period of about 10 months this extensive list of ideas found its central sort of guiding rubric and once we had that we pulled the things that fit that line, that gave us a kind of narrative thrust to it and then we started building stuff.
To me that is just like breathing, so if we wanted to do a segment on vortex canons, I can go to the hardware store and in 20 minutes be demonstrating vortex canons. We kind of built that simplicity into the show. Everything we built for the show sort of wears its manufacturer on its sleeve, so you can understand precisely how its built. In a way, we do want you to try it at home.
So I’m a big fan of your prop and costume building videos, what was your favorite prop or costume you’ve recreated recently and what’s something you had your eye on for a while but just never got to?
I’ll answer the second part first. I’ve got a set of Iron Man Mark III armor in boxes that I have never fully put together. I’ve always wanted to, because I’ve always wanted to wear the Iron Man, but it’s such a big and extensive project and wearing fiberglass armor is really difficult. So I just haven’t gotten around to it.
As far as costumes I’ve just completed. This summer I got to go to England and make a suit of armor with legendary armorer Terry English. He did the armor for all the Harry Potter films and Excalibur and is a hero of mine. I got to spend almost a couple of weeks in his shop making armor with him and we made me a suit of King Arthur’s armor from Excalibur. It is so beautiful and lives in my house right now.
You’ve also done more than a few videos highlighting practical effects in films, how do you feel that films fare not pushing to keep things practical?
Well I think there is a lovely backlash at the same time I think CG gets better with every minute. But directors and actors are finding I think, they work better with things they can put their hands on. Any director with clout, Ridley Scott for instance likes to put his actors in completely immersive environments. So when you enter the derelict spaceship on Alien: Covenant, which I was lucky enough to do last year you can get lost in it. Its really big! He feels, and I think he’s right it puts his actors in a specific mental space and there are other directors Jon Favreau and Peter Jackson, Neill Blomkamp who are also really dedicated to building as much of the worlds as their filming as they can.
What’s a film that impressed you recently with its effects?
Oh I’m obsessed with Blade Runner 2049 right now. I think that its effects are magnificent and really, really subtle. I know for a fact they built most of those sets as big as they could and often extended them to the very edges of the frame. It’s a completely amazing, amazing story.
You’re a big Star War fan, and I have to ask what’s your favorite Star Wars prop?
That’s a great question. I am going to have to say its Chewbacca’s bandolier. I’ve spent more time researching that bandolier and trying to figure out its correct dimensions and making different versions. I have like six in my studio right now. It’s a never-ending journey. I’m obsessed with Chewbacca, I think he’s one of the greatest non-human characters ever written. He would be my wingman if I could wave a magic wand.
Finally, what’s your favorite segment you’ve go lined up for the Philadelphia show?
Look we have a couple of moments in the show; I don’t want to give them away. We have a couple of moments in the show, where we show the audience something and they gasp every time. And they gasp because its so beautiful and they gasp because they understand it, that they didn’t before they started talking about it. So its almost like you tell mpeople what they are going to see and explain to them how they are going to see it and when they see it they still aren’t prepared for what it is.
David Mamet said you could get a standing ovation from almost any audience, but its impossible to blackmail the audience into a gasp.