Feeds

MythBusters: Savage and Hyneman detonate truthiness

El Reg interviews lead balloon floaters

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Fans in powerful places

By FX, Hyneman is referring to the special-effects biz that keeps Hollywood and the TV industry ticking – a business in which Hyneman and Savage have years of experience.

Before MythBusters, Hyneman worked for Colossal Pictures, managing the creation of models and special effects before creating M5. Savage has worked on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Galaxy Quest, Terminator 3, A.I., and the Matrix sequels, while designing props and sets for Coca-Cola, Hershey's, and Lexus TV ads. Savage is particularly proud of his work on A.I., creating the aged and crumbling buildings in a flooded, futuristic New York City.

He also sculpts and – in what he says is the distant past – designed and marketed custom laptop covers for Apple's Powerbook 1400. That wasn't much of a success, Savage admits: he sold a grand total of 35 units.

What has earned the pair special attention over their FX peers is the TV platform that is MythBusters. "Military and law enforcement personnel seem to be one of our strongest supporters in the audience as far as viewers," Hyneman tells us. "We've been in the Pentagon, and we can hardly walk down the corridor without getting stopped."

The MythBusters don't have a big following just among the G-men: they're a hit with code junkies, as well, and have appeared at popular events such as JavaOne to the satisfaction of many a fan.

Hitler's Wolf's Lair after assination attempt

Hitler's Wolf's Lair after the failed bomb of July 1944. Could it have worked?

Hyneman and Savage took the stage with another geek icon, Java daddy James Gosling, during the 2006 event to preside over the traditional tossing of T-shirts into the audience. Gosling used specially built air bazookas and a trebuchet catapult. I watched this geek meltdown from a safe distance at the back of the JavaOne audience members who were grabbing madly for flying shirts.

The pair might be FX whizzes and heroes to the men in black and the sandal-clad legions of coders, but what is it that qualifies them to helm a program spanning physics, engineering, and mechanics, or to partake in a little Tony Stark–style inventing for the world's largest superpower? You won't find much in Hyneman's past that prepared him for a show like MythBusters. What you will find is time spent as a wilderness boat captain, diver, linguist, animal wrangler, machinist, cook, and a stint running a Caribbean sailing and diving business.

A self-described "problematic kid" who left home at 14 to hitchhike across the US, Hyneman was primarily interested in art and sculpture. He now holds a degree in Russian languages, has been granted several patents, and is credited with being one of the designers of the aerial robotic camera system Wavecam.

Savage's background was creative: his father was painter W. Lee Savage, who produced impressionist portraits before withdrawing from the art world in the 1960s. His dad was a terrific example of somebody who did only what he wanted to do, Savage says.

Following that example, Savage joined Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) after quitting an R&D position at an unnamed toy company. "That was a lot of management I didn’t enjoy," Savage recalls of his time in toys. At ILM, though, "It was heaven." Among his projects, Savage was heavily involved in the space shuttles used in the aging astronauts' romp, Space Cowboys.

Speaking of MythBusters, Savage sums up their bona fides: "We like problem-solving. It's never the biggest bang of the biggest contraption ... it's the most counterintuitive result that makes us most happy."

Big-bang theory tested

"It's just who we are," Hyneman adds. "We are naturally curious. We are the kinds of people that if you leave us in alone in a room, before long everything is going to be disassembled on the floor. ... a lot of the stories are primarily driven by our own curiosity and our own interest."

Hyneman reckons that he's learned a lot since they shot a MythBusters demo in 13 hours to get the show on air. "A lot of what you see on the program is things I've grown into by doing this kind of work. I've become like an entirely different person to when I started in MythBusters – of my understanding of how things work and my level of curiosity," Hyneman says.

The show's premise is that its hosts get actively involved in the recreation of the myths they examine. In doing so, the pair work with a range of experts – the best part of their job, Savage tells us. These include the firefighters, bomb squad, and FBI technicians who supervised the packing of 850 pounds of high explosives into that unlucky cement mixer to test whether the blast could remove a slab of concrete from inside the vehicle's drum. The task had been to see if a single stick of dynamite could remove stuck concrete, but the pair were having too much fun. As Savage admitted at the time: "This has got nothing to do with the myth; it's just a big boom".

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Next page: The 'boffin method'

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.