MythBusters Encinal High Benefit (summary and video)
The MythBusters Encinal High Benefit was a lot of fun. It was about an hour and half of Q&A where we got to hear Adam and Jamie share information on the show's origins, upcoming episodes, and old anecdotes (including a particularly funny one about Jamie as a teenager, which I have posted video of below). Apparently the MythBusters producer has found them a 747 engine...
The event was for a high school benefit and there were many children present, but it was clear that Adam and Jamie were more rehearsed for a college audience. There was the occassional foul language here and there and they passed out earplugs before they showed the blooper reel for parents who didn't want their children's innocent ears to be harmed by the cursing on the video. Adam's disclaimer: "Remember kids. Cursing is something adults can do and you can't." Adam's kids were also present in the audience, but I'm sure they've heard it all before :).
I've done my best to summarize the event as well as post some video clips and approximate transcripts. I collected about 30 minutes of video from the event, including the live demonstration of Cooling a Six Pack. I also recently posted photos from the event.
Note on videos: you should think of the video as 'enhanced audio.' We were up in the balcony and shooting with a tiny ELPH digital camera, not a proper camcorder. It's much funnier to hear Adam Savage tell stories than it is to read transcripts, though, so I hope you enjoy.
- Whirlpool suction: Currently shooting a myth on a whirlpool sucking you down. They currently have a tank at M5 for testing this. (see video 1)
- Giant car speaker: They also have a modified Mercedes in their parking lot that has been carved out to hold a speaker with 9 cu. ft. of displacement -- the idea being to see if they can blow the car apart. (see video 1)
- Explosive pesticide pants: They also recently did a myth about explosive pesticide pants: a farmer gets pesticide on his pants, someone touches it, and it explodes. Jamie got this is an e-mail on a Friday and they were already cutting fabric for it on the following Monday. Jamie: "Buster's got some chunks of his thighs missing." (see video 2)
- Jaws scuba tank revisited?: One of the questioners asked, "why didn't you blow the scuba tank underwater?" (see the Jaws Special). Jamie started to answer that the tank in Jaws wasn't underwater when Adam interrupted, "Actually, it was under water. Shit!" So we might just get to see that one in a Myths revisited.
- Train suction: They've been trying to do a myth on train suction for some time now. They are waiting to find someone who owns a train and a platform, and will let them stick Buster on the platform as the train goes past. (see video 14 below)
- JATO: Adam mentioned that they will revisit the JATO myth when they get the budget. It was one of their pilot episodes and they didn't do a full mythbusting: they replicated the myth, but they didn't replicate the result. Jamie mentioned that their producer recently acquired a 747 engine for them: "I'm sure it will end up strapped on something." (see video 9 below)
- Mythsion Impossible: Jamie and Adam are always trying to get stuff they built on the show, but their producer has to remind them that, "The show is not called 'Jamie and Adam Build Weird Shit.'" In one particular case, Adam described how he ordered some super strong magnets off the Internet (I'm positive they were from United Nuclear based on his description). Jamie has had a long time fascination with magnets and wanted to use them to climb up the side of a building. The producer managed to find them a story that would allow them to do this, so, for an upcoming "Mythsion Impossible" episode, Jamie's magnets will go up against Adam's suction cup contraption. (see video 4 below)
- Room painted with explosives (see video 8 below)
On the origins of MythBusters
It all started with a robot named Blendo, which was a rotating saucer of death. It had four matches in four years in Robot Wars. Its first match lasted five seconds. In its second match, it sent pieces of its opponent over the lexan barrier, which constituted a defeat of the insurance agents for the show. Blendo was awarded "First Prize in Lieu of Competition." In its third match, it sent pieces of the other robot of the (raised) lexan barrier.
Discovery Channel was shooting a documentary of the competition and remembered Jamie from the event. Jamie was approached about the show and Jamie though, "maybe if I got someone else involved, someone who's more of a ham than I am."
"Jamie and I are not friends," according to Adam -- they don't hang out -- but Jamie did have the habit of calling Adam about twice a year. A typical call Adam described was Jamie calling him at breakfast to tell him that he had just figured out how to attach a screwdriver motor to his rollerskates:
Jamie: "Want to come down?"
Adam: "I'll be right there"
In a similar call, Jamie asked, "Want to host a show on the Discovery Channel?"
Jamie: "[explosives] by and large, they're illegal... automatic weapons, explosives, they won't let you do that... We learned over time when you want to do something illegal, get a police officer."
Adam: "Nothing like having the fire department set shit on fire."
Jamie: "When you want to do something really illegal, get the FBI." (The FBI calls it a "training exercise.")
The FBI can be interesting to deal with. For one of their myths, (the upcoming explosive pesticides myth, I believe) the FBI brought in a chemical that they wouldn't identify for Jamie and Adam (see video 2).
Adam: "You know I'm curious what this chemical is."
FBI: "Yes you are."
Their early experience with the pyrotechnic experts taught them that experts don't know as much as they should. For the tree cannon, their expert told them that they should be 250 ft away. They decided to stand 350 ft away. Stuff still flew over their heads. The expert's response: "wow, man."
FYI: the cannonball is still somewhere in Alameda. Jamie: "It's about this bit, it's white, if you find it let us know."
Because of all the potentially threatening injuries, they've had do come up with a "Custom-made-for-MythBusters flowchart" with their insurance company. They list the worst possible outcome and the likelihood of it occurring. Adam: "The worst thing is always, 'someone could die.'"
They've even had consultants from Jackass and Fear Factor evaluate their show -- Adam: "They were still out of their league."
More recently, almost all of them have been through Red Cross training, all except Adam: "I haven't, but that's because I'm most likely to get hurt."
Jamie and Adam will be playing junk-store dealers in an upcoming Darwin Awards movie. (see video: Darwin Awards)
Jamie's favorite explosion was the cement truck explosion. (see video 8 below)
On the end of MythBusters
"We'll run out of myths when people stop doing stupid stuff." (see video 3)
Adam: "...get to do things that you'd never imagine that you get to do... Thursday morning got up and went out to the Horseshoe Bay Coast Guard Station and we took this 45' boat of theirs out to the golden gate bridge to look for whirlpools and they let me drive it! That's cool!"
"I just want to say one more thing. As a personal favor you get to do so many things no one else has done and no one else has tried and I think we've done better than anyone else. Personally I think Alcatraz is an absolute plateau for us. Reading all two thousand pages of the FBI report, coming up with the most accurate depiction of what those guys built, even though no one living every saw that raft, and finding out that it was seaworthy enough to land on the north shore of the golden gate bridge was absolutely stunning."
Jamie: "To give you an idea of what's going on now, Adam mentioned the whirlpools and what that is about. We did a little investigation and stuff. We've recreated some whirlpools on a smaller scale back in the shop. The myth itself can a whirlpool suck you down with it. So, here in the next few days we're going to be receiving a tank that is about 16' tall ... and 10' wide and we're going to create a massive whirlpool in it that one of us probably will end up having to get into (Adam raises hand)."
"And while we're working on that, at the other end of the shop, there's a Mercedes that's had all of it's interior stripped out of it. We're in the process of making this into a gigantic speaker that's powered by a diesel. So, there's a speaker that takes up the entire interior of this mid-size Mercedes. It's about four or five feet wide. And all we did is hack a hole right down through the bottom passenger compartment going to the driveshaft, where there's a big crank, there's a piston that's --
Adam: " For any sound geeks out there, this single speaker is going to have about 9 cubic feet of displacement --"
Jamie: " -- and it's supposed to blow the car apart... You know that's just another day in the life of MythBusters: whirlpools and gigantic speakers that explode cars."
Adam: "Probably 30% of what we shoot comes right off the Discovery fan site and right out of e-mails submissions that we get. I actually just got one the other day which I'm sure I'm gonna be doing soon enough. Apparently, in the community of people who deal with high explosives, there's a certain distance from the epicenter of an explosion that is called the sweet spot, and it's apparently ... a place you can stand where the explosion will blow your clothes off but leave you unscathed. I heard that and i know we'll be testing that..."
Jamie: "The last one I got was kinda along the same lines and it came from someone in Australia that e-mailed me. It was talking about a farmer that had gotten some sort of pesticide or chemical on his pants from the farm, and somebody smacked him on the rear and his pants blew up. And so we recently did that -- "
Adam: "We'll that was -- Jamie got the e-mail on like a Friday and by Monday we were cutting up samples of cloth and testing explosives. That was an idea so good idea we just have to put something aside and start shooting.
Jamie: "yeah, Buster's got big chunks missing from his thighs."
"Once you're looking at topical explosives you can apply to cloth, and regarding the FBI again, you try ... different explosives based on pesticides and farm chemicals you might find. And then of course, this is MythBusters, we don't just test the myth itself, but we see if its busted, what would achieve what the myths says would happen, so the FBI brought this chemical."
Jamie: "We don't know what it is"
Adam: "We don't know what it is and we asked and they were like, 'No.' And this is the way it goes: 'You know I'm curious what this chemical is,' and they go, 'Yes you are.'
"But yeah, we thought Buster is relatively indestructible...the silicone that makes his body is now totally fireproof, and the exploding pants episode required much recasting of Buster's parts."
The moderator asked about Greek Myths like Icaraus
Adam: "We figured that Jamie would build a flying machine that worked and I'd go too close to the sun"
Jamie: The simple answer to that is, "We'll run out of myths when people stop doing stupid stuff."
NOTE: Adam is probably describing the United Nuclear Web site when talking about buying the magnets.
Adam: "Jamie has always been fascinated by magnets. You might have seen it on the show and he's got all this collection of super magnets and he likes to do all this stuff with them. I found these magnets for him on this Web site that are the size of hockey pucks. And they are so powerful you would never want to be holding onto one in each hand... you would be in danger of loosing one or both of those hands... On the package it says, 'if you are carrying this package from one room to another, it's wise to plan your route around any metal objects.' And Jamie promptly decided, 'I want to build something to climb a building with these magnets.' We're doing a special ... which you'll see in about three myths called Mythsion Impossible... all these heist myths, and the first thing we had to do is climb into a metal duct and up and down into this building to break into a building and Jamie's magnets worked a treat."
Jamie: "Yeah, and to back up a little bit, I told the producer I had these magnets and I had figured out how to accomplish this task... and wanted to do it as part of the show. And he e-mails me back... Jamie, how many times, after all these years of doing this show you still don't know what this show's about. This show is not called 'Jamie and Adam Build Weird Shit.'"
Adam: "I beg to differ"
Jamie: "But to his credit, he came back with... he heard a story and had fallen it through that someone had broken into a house using these magnets... and I imagined to figure this out, and when you think about it, what I was able to do with this is quite something because climbing ducting with these magnets, ducting is like you know, a 1/32nd of an inch thick, it's really thin steel, and to have a magnet that would support a person's weight on that kind of steel is quite something. I managed to make it up like twenty feet in three minutes.
Adam: "It was not quiet. Kung! Kung! And I got to build something that I've wanted to wanted since I was like five, which is that I got to take suction cups and power them with a battery-powered vacuum pump.. (makes climbing motion and suction noises). It was so cool."
Jamie: "I think we're going to do it in Petaluma or something"
Adam: "Yeah, we're going to climb a twenty story building"
Video 5: Jamie ate the fish
A poor little kid asked what happened to the goldfish. Adam responded, "Jamie ate them."
Adam: "It's misnomer actually. When I first started working for Jamie and we worked for a company called Colossal Pictures, and they went out of business and they sold the model shop to Jamie, and he wanted to think of a cool name for it. I was thinking, 'Where does James Bond get all his cool droids(?) from?" Well that would be British Secret Service, which I now know it's MI6, but for some reason back then I suggested M5 and it's been that way every since."
Adam: "The Darwin Awards have provided a lot of fodder for us on the show... actually there's a film coming out called The Darwin Awards starring Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder, and Jamie and I play a couple of junk store owners in the movie."
Jamie: "Well, I guess our favorite explosion would have to be the cement truck"
Adam: "We actually just make one that will air soon where we attempted to paint a room with explosives -- a stick of dynamite and a can of paint. We went through several versions of that. Jamie came up with the fastest way of making modern art you have ever seen."
For background, see the JATO myth episode guide
Adam: "That moment right there, remote controlling a jet-assisted Chevy from a helicopter is one of Jamie's favorite moments on the show, I know. And to be honest, that episode is only half-way done in my opinion, because we replicated exactly a jet assisted takeoff module for the top an Impala, which was 1000 lbs of thrust in 12 seconds or something like that, but we didn't see what it would take to get a Chevy Impala to 350 mph, what would happen if we drove into the cliff. So, once we convince them to give us the budget, we're definitely going to revisit that myth."
Jamie: "Yeah and also, it should be noted that our producer found us I think it was a jet engine on the 747, which we're not sure what we're gonna do with. I'm pretty sure that if we have it sitting around the shop it will end up strapped on something."
Video 10: Jamie's hitchhiking adventure
Adam tells a story about a fourteen-year-old Jamie hitchhiking across America in defiance of his parents.
Video 11: Jamie's water prank on Adam
Q: A kid asked if Jamie and Adam would help him out with a high school prank
Adam: "Okay, I'm going to tell this story. I fall asleep in any moving vehicle at any time. No matter what time of day or night, and I snore really loudly, which really pisses Jamie off. So I'll be in the back of the van, 'zzzzzz,' like this, and Jamie started this prank of slowly getting a bottle of water and slowly pouring it on my crouch while I'm sleeping. He had a whole method of doing it -- "
Jamie: "There's this little pocket that forms right about here when you're sitting. And I found that he could pour about maybe like four or five tables four or five tablespoons at a time in there, and it would just gradually seep"
Adam: "So at one point I wake up because I feel water in the crack of my ass, 'uh,' and I smack Jamie in the back of the head, and I go, 'Do you really want to go there? Because if you do I will find something that humiliates you that everyone finds hilarious.' That's the problem with pranks is that they escalate so quickly. The short and long answer is, no we can't help you with the high school prank."
Video 12: Star Wars Myths
Adam: "Are any of the stuff that happens in Star Wars possible? I don't know if anything that goes on in the Star Wars universe is even remotely possible, but, if there is a lightsaber, I want one."
Video 13: Cooling a Six Pack Live (2095)
please forgive the initial shakiness, it gets better, and you get to see Jamie shoot Adam with the fire extinguisher
The video is of low-quality, but I did take plenty of photos that I've posted on Flickr: MythBusters Encinal High Benefit Photos
The MythBusters talk about a myth they haven't finished yet -- train suction.
Video 15: Why is Adam so injury prone?
Adam: "Look, somebody has to demonstrate the wrong side of the equation, and you know, I know that the experiment is going to make it (?) if I get hurt while doing it, so I'm willing to take one for the team."