There are lots of great days, working for MAKE, but April 2 was one that’ll stand out in my memory for awhile. I got to skip out on real work and take a field trip out to the new ATX Hackerspace location on Dessau Rd., here in Austin. ArcAttack’s Joe and John DiPrima, Sam McFadden, and Steve Ward were there, with one of their big Tesla coils, along with two of my favorite peeps from MAKE headquarters in California, flown in just for the occasion: Creative Director Jason Babler and Associate Photo Editor Gregory Hayes.
When I arrived late in the morning, they’d already blacked out the windows in ATX Hackerspace’s big central “warehouse” room, and hung up a huge backdrop. People were milling around checking levels and setting up equipment. Jason positioned his Canon T2i off to one side running a timelapse, embedded above, to record the day.
After many hours of prep work, the lights were ready, the cameras were ready, the coil was ready, and ArcAttack front man Joe DiPrima was suited up center-stage in his grounded metal armor. Hackerspace staff, members, friends, and friends of friends were gathered around, in the back, waiting for the show. The house lights went out.
And the sparks, literally, began to fly.
We only needed one coil, for the shoot, so we could only hear half—one audio channel—of ArcAttack’s set, which is normally performed through two coils singing in stereo. It didn’t matter. We were close-up, the crowd was small, and the space was, at times, completely dark besides the flashing of the arc itself. When it was over, the small crowd of onlookers erupted in cheering and applause.
I remember one moment very vividly: The arcs are flying, the shutter’s clicking, and Jason is hunched over the laptop watching the snaps roll off Greg’s camera. A spark cracks, the shutter snaps, and Jason’s face lights up. His shout is inaudible over the roar of the arc, but there’s no mistaking that look. He claps his hands and pumps his fist in the air. He’s got the shot he wants.
I don’t know if it’s that image, in particular, that ended up on the cover of our new Maker Projects Guide. We took hundreds, that day. It was sunset by the time we left the building. I do know, now that I’ve seen the finished cover, that all that time and energy was well worth it. Those arcs are real, friends, not ‘shopped. And because I’m just a writer, not a visual guy, I think I can get away with bragging on our design team here: Greg, Jason, Juliann—ya’ll rock. Well done.
Thanks to ATX Hackerspace for playing host, ArcAttack as always, and to everyone else who helped make this cover happen.