Rocky Dean shows off his own modified PC on Monday before heading to North Carolina to play a part in a pilot called "MOD the Machine ? The TV Show." "Modders" trick out computers like a mechanic would enhance a chopper or custom car.
Photo by Layton Ehmke
An 18-year-old Soldotna High School senior, who is a whiz with computers, is preparing to show his technical skills in a pilot for a new reality television show being filmed next week in North Carolina.
"I leave Wednesday," Rocky Dean said from his Sterling home Sunday afternoon. "I'm really excited."
The pilot is called "MOD the Machine The TV Show." A pilot is an early version of a television show that can potentially turn into a full-blown series.
It's largely the brainchild of an award-winning computer builder by the name of Christopher Dols, whose vision for the show is to bring a type of cutting-edge computer work called "modding" to the eyes of the general public.
"A mod, or modding, basically means tricking out a computer," Dean said.
He explained that a computer builder will take a regular computer and turn it into something almost unrecognizable.
"You take a stock computer and put a window in, put in extra fans, put on decals and fancy lights," he said.
Inspired by such hit TV shows such as "Monster Garage," "Junk Yard Wars" and "Pimp My Ride," the format of the show is to give two teams of three builders all the tools and resources they need to take an existing computer and, in 50 hours, turn it in to an eye-popping, jaw-dropping extreme mod, based on a theme given to the builders on the first day.
This task is not intended to be easy, and contestants are presented with a unique challenge in an attempt to see if they can come together as a team and get the job done in the time given.
"I'm totally committed to doing this pilot," Dean said.
Dean and the other contestants will compete for a prize package worth more than $200. He said the cash prize has little to do with his decision to be involved, though.
"This will be a lot of fun. I've never traveled by myself before, and I want the show to be successful," he said. "I like 'Pimp My Ride' and 'American Chopper.' I like to see how everything comes together at the end and watching them overcome adversity."
Dean found out about the competition while cruising around in modder forums on the Internet.
"I ran across the link and signed up," he said.
The form asked what sort of crazy modding he had done and his reply was that the best in the sport was yet to come. Later, he received an e-mail with an invitation to the filming of the pilot.
Dean's ideas for future MOD projects teeter on the line between extreme creativity and insanity.
"This is a little off the wall, but I want to put a computer in a taxidermied penguin and run it with Linux," he said. The mascot of that program is a penguin.
"I have piles of sketches. Another idea I have is to put a computer inside a three-cubic-foot refrigerator with a window and door, and I would still use it as a refrigerator."
Dean's own computer came premodded, but his imagination made him put his own stamp on it.
"I put a water-cooling system with pumps and tubes to keep it super cooled. Also, I already had the cup holder and lighter, so I added a spring-loaded ashtray. The feet light up, too," he said.
The show's executive producer and director, Dols, said he was looking for people with computer competency, and at least someone who has done at least one mod. Dols took a break from building the set to comment on the show.
"We're providing a tool set up with jig saw, sanding and grinding capabilities and laser-guided cutting tools. We're modern. We don't play," he said.
Some of the prizes will be tool kits, PC locks and various computer accessories.
"There are two teams of three, and, hopefully, the team members will accent one another," he said. "We start filming Friday.
The contestants have from 5 p.m. Friday until midnight Sunday to complete their creations.
"You're only limited by your skill and your imagination," Dols said.
The mods they build will be donated to the children of the New Hanover Regional Medical Hospital Pediatric Wing in Wilmington, N.C.
The show will be filmed in high-definition TV and available on DVD. The air date for the pilot is not known at this time, but it is scheduled to be aired on G4techTV, which is available on digital cable and satellite.
Dean said winning will depend on his teammates.
"We'll just assess our abilities and do whatever we do best individually."
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