Experiments

Dan Tapster’s Favorite Things About MythBusters 2.0

posted: 01/08/15
Dan Tapster
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From left: director Steve Christensen, Jamie, James Cameron, Adam and myself at M5.
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INTRO


When I became the executive producer for MythBusters back in 2006, I remember the message boards at discovery.com going ballistic! Hundreds of people were worried that I'd opt to reinvent MythBusters and take it away from the winning formula that fans knew and loved. But that idea had never crossed my mind -- after all, I'd worked on the show since 2004 and so MythBusters was already in my blood!

But 2014 marked a watershed moment for MythBusters. With the incredible trio that is Kari, Grant and Tory departing the show, MythBusters simply had to evolve. Of course at its heart, the core idea of MythBusting remains unchanged -- Adam and Jamie use science to separate fact from fiction -- but within that we've tweaked a whole array of things from the look to the graphics to the music. This really is MythBusters 2.0 and in my opinion, it's our best season yet! And here's why:
10. The Opener
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10. The Opener
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10. THE OPENER


For 240 episodes, we've heard narrator-extraordinaire Rob Lee kick things off with: "On this episode of MythBusters" before we reveal what's to come. But no longer. Rob of course remains an integral part of the show, but now every episode begins with its own specially shot opener. It's sometimes cryptic, sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous and as a way to kick-start a show, it's fantastically engaging. Just take a look at the opener for our Indiana Jones Special and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Graphics Reborn
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9. Graphics Reborn
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9. GRAPHICS REBORN


It's no secret that the inspiration behind our graphics was Monty Python. This classic British series featured clunky cardboard cut-out style graphics that we couldn't help but replicate. For 11 years, these graphics have been perfect for the show, but for me, it was time for them to change. They needed to evolve -- after all, they were based on a style that was now almost 50 years old! So it's out with Monty and in with a hand-drawn, grey-scale super-slick style of graphic that in my opinion rocks. Not only do these graphic look cooler, they also now get across more key information in a more clear way. They're the bomb.
8.  More Building!
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8. More Building!
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8. MORE BUILDING!


This is a change that I think fans will be thrilled about. For years, I've had people asking me to include more build process in the show, and finally we're able to deliver on that. Process is key to the act of MythBusting and I'm delighted that we've been able to carve out more time to devote to this. Watching Adam build a whip or Jamie build a wrecking ball in more detail than ever before is fascinating. The skill set that these guys have really is an incredible thing to behold, and I'm really happy that we're finally able to showcase it and give it the screen time it deserves!
7.  Superlative Cinematography
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7. Superlative Cinematography
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7. SUPERLATIVE CINEMATOGRAPHY


For this season, we reinvented almost the entire MythBusters camera arsenal, and as a result the visual experience of watching the show is second to none. In my opinion we'd already set the bar pretty damn high, but now it's world-class. With more cameras, getting more angles that are closer to the action than ever before, the visual spectacle of MythBusters is a must-see. Add to that our new drone-cam, which has let us get a unique birds-eye view of our big experiment days, and what's not to like?

For years, I've campaigned to try to secure our camera-team an Emmy nomination for cinematography (I mean, who could forget the high speed in JATO: Mission Accomplished?!), but maybe this season will see that happen! (I realize I'm biased, but I can but hope, right?)
6.  New Opening Titles
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6. New Opening Titles
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6. NEW OPENING TITLES


"Who are the MythBusters? Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman - between them more than 30 years' special-effects experience. They don't just tell the myths; they put them to the test."

Yes, we know! We've been told this for 12 years and 240 episodes - we're all well aware of who the MythBusters are by now, thank-you-very-much. So MythBusters 2.0 doesn't feel the need to tell us. Instead, we've gone for an entirely new opening title sequence - super cool images, a great music track and no narration at all. What you see is what you get -- Adam and Jamie in their element, being MythBusters and taking no prisoners. I'm excited about it and I can't wait to see what fans think.
5.  More Science
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5. More Science
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5. MORE SCIENCE


Coming in at #8 on my list was more building. Well, that's not the only addition to the show, since we've also added more science. At its heart, MythBusters is a science show - whatever myth we're doing, however crazy it is, it always relies on that logical progression of experimentation known as the scientific method. As well as sticking to those principles for this season, we're also making sure we dwell on the science - highlighting it, discussing it, arguing about it - whatever.

Science is at the root of everything we do on the show so to be able to shoehorn more of it onto the screen is one of the reasons I'm so proud of this season.
4.  High Speed
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4. High Speed
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4. HIGH SPEED


Super slow mo footage is absolutely part of the MythBusters brand. Before Time Warp, before The Slow Mo Guys, it was MythBusters that made slow-mo footage accessible to people. And, sure, while we missed the odd shot (yes, I know, Cement Truck), for the most part we delivered time and again.

For this series we've invested in another high-speed camera that not only lets us get stuff in glorious full HD, but it can also crank up some monumental frame rates. In one episode, we film a gunshot at 73,000 frames per second. Think about that for a minute. Seventy-three THOUSAND frames per second. Needless to say, it's pretty special.
3.  TOS
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3. TOS
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3. TOS


What do I mean by TOS? Tennessee Orthopedic Society? No. Temporarily Out of Stock? No. Tactical Operations Support? Well, maybe but not really. For us it means quite simply Text On Screen.

This is an entirely new addition to the show, and I think fans are going to love it. Throughout the episode we use a cool, stylized text to reveal more information - more science, more data, more technology. It effectively adds a whole new dimension to the show, where viewers are provided more information to take on if they want to. It looks really slick, and my only disappointment is that it took me so long to implement it!
2.  THE MYTHS
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2. THE MYTHS
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2. THE MYTHS


There's no doubt that the most important part of MythBusters are the myths themselves - they are the true star of the show. For this season we underwent a massive and intensive period of research to make sure that the myths were second to none. We wanted myths that were big, bold, spectacular, intriguing and culturally relevant, and I think we've really delivered here.

We've got unique access to the brains behind The Simpsons, we put Adam and Jamie in a barn a la The A-Team, we've got an incredible tall tale about transforming a 2CV into a motorcycle, and we finally delve into the world of video games. As a rundown, I think it's really solid. Each episode is packed full of content and I think it will resonate really well with our viewers.

I am of course expecting to continue to get emails complaining about what we got wrong - that's half the fun of MythBusting: learning and listening to other people's ideas.
1.  ADAM AND JAMIE
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1. ADAM AND JAMIE
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1. ADAM AND JAMIE


There's no doubt that the biggest change to the season is that it features 100% Adam and Jamie, and I'm delighted at how much they've stepped up to the plate in that regard. They've literally put blood, sweat and tears into this season, and it's incredible to watch.

Yes, there's more build. Yes, there's more science. Yes, there's the usual degree of incredible spectacle, but what I'm so pleased about is how much personality there is. I feel like we really learn much more about what makes Adam and Jamie tick. This season we're really peeling back the curtain to showcase who they are as people: Adam tells us about how he learned to build, Jamie shrugs off his stoicism and dresses up as BA Baracus ... I could go on, but that would be a spoiler.

Suffice to say that if we were still asking "Who are the MythBusters" (see #6), the answer for this season would be very different indeed!
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