Terminator 2- The Beginning of a New Revolution in Special Effects

Terminator 2 at time of release was an extraordinary movie with stunning visual effects. T2 was a film that had a huge budget in order to produce visuals that had not previously been seen before from movies during that time. It was made up of a combination of Computer Generated Imaging, real effects and motion graphics. When James Cameron proposed his ideas to come up with how the special effects would work in T2, he required a high budget because it involved a lot of practical manipulation as well as visual effects to achieve a perfect result. The ‘Terminator’s’ were the most recognisable thing in the film that used special/real effects to create a clean digital image.The visual effects in the film are a combination of both realistic and computer generated effects. ‘Stan Winston models were also a huge part of the film, allowing the effects o take shape before the CGI moderations.

Back when Terminator 2 was in production, computers were not capable of producing such special effects. This is where practical/real effects came into use. Stan Winston Studio’s was a vital part of the movie. They were famous for creating real effects to produce a nice finished result. Their crew were famous for using a lot of different techniques to create the special effects in the movie. The T1000 Terminator was a new generation Terminator that had the ability to warp particular parts of his body into weapons. There were a lot of effects in T2 that were computerised, such as the liquid metal effect and also a lot of effects that were real, such as some of the explosions in the film. The real effects were done through the creation of sculptures to look like the actors. The team would make moulds of the end product of how they wanted the character to look in the scene.

*Stan Winston Model, T1000, Split Arm*

*Stan Winston Model, T1000*

For the scene when the T1000 gets shot with a shotgun in the head,

the team took several shots. The first shot they took was a shot of the T1000 before he was shot, approaching the elevator where John Connor and the T800 where. The second shot they used was by using a sculpture that had a huge whole through the middle of it’s head (to show what the T1000 looked like after it was shot). Then using the computer, they blended these two shots together and ended with a smooth end result.

Another example of the realistic effects used on the T1000, was in one of the final scenes, when the two terminators are battling each other over Sarah and John. In this scene, they used an actual Police uniform in the creation of the soldier and they built the sculpture to look it’s arm had just been sliced open. This suit had a mechanical arm and the intention of this suit was to look like the T1000 had just been split open by a blade, exposing some of his liquid metal make up. Stan Winston was a genius in this film, since computers could not generate effects such as explosions or being able to manipulate characters, some of his other effects included ‘The Ash effect’

when Sarah Connor believes that the future of the world ends in a nuclear explosion and when the T1000 uses his blade arm to kill John’s foster parents.

To this day, the realistic effects are looked back on as being a revolution and there are also arguments that real effects required real skill and these days, computers have made people less skilled. Dennis Muren, a CGI worker for T2, said that “Everybody is not doing it the way that I did it, and I think it’s hurting it, and nobody seems to care or notice.” Gene Warren Jr. also suggested that “What the computer did, just like what’s happened all through our industry, it has de-skilled most of the folks that now work in visual effects in the computer world.” The team working on T2, when they were first introduced to James Cameron’s idea, were astounded because there had been no movie before that they could compare it to.

For further information on how T2 was made refer to ‘The Making of’ (see video below),

However to make his dream a reality, the team did a great job in creating this film. The most astounding part about this film was that there were only minor physical touch ups done on the computer, such as making the liquid metal effect appear slightly more shiny or blending the two shots they took with the sculptures together. If we look at the film at first, we would think that the visual effects were all computer generated, however there were some surprising effects that were made using practical tools and later combined with motion graphics, to make them appear to be realistic. For a scene by scene breakdown, James Cameron Online is a great resource to look to because it explains the making of every effect in the film and uses of lighting etc. http://www.jamescamerononline.com/T2Complexity.htm


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