SPECIAL EFFECTS YOU NEVER FORGET – CREATING ICONIC FILM MOMENTS
To watch the never-before-seen “TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY” Stan Winston Studio test clips, CLICK ON THE PLAYER above.
Today’s blog includes a couple of tiny bite-size treats. Exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY of just two of the hundreds of physical effects designed by Stan Winston Studio for the groundbreaking and remarkable, James Cameron feature film. First we watch as an "ash dummy" from Sarah Connor's nuclear holocaust nightmare is blown to bits. Then we see Stan Winston Studio key artist Richard Landon as the subject for a test of the T-1000 blade arm kill effect.
Pictured Above: Stan Winston and friends during the making of TERMINATOR 2:JUDGMENT DAY.
SARAH CONNOR’S FIERY DOOM
For a dream sequence the script required a shot of Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) who stands at the chain link fence of a playground and bursts into flame, her charred skeleton still clinging to the fence as she lets out an anguished cry. The sequence would require three ‘Sarah’ puppets for three stages of disintegration. Rather than lifecast Hamilton in the screaming facial position — which would be impossible for the actress to hold for the length of time it took the material to set — Winston took advantage of a relatively new technology called cyberscanning, in which Hamilton’s head was scanned in a matter of seconds as she held the scream position. Data from the scan was output as a styrofoam bust, which served as the foundation for the puppet sculptures.
Pictured Above: For a sequence in which Sarah is disintegrated in a nuclear blast, the puppets built by Stan Winston Studio had to match live-action footage of Hamilton performing the scene.
SIMPLE MATERIALS USED IN AN EXTRAORDINARY WAY
The third and final puppet — an ashen form that blows away in the wind, exposing the charred skeleton beneath — was the most difficult, requiring much research and development. To create the effect, Shannon Shea reinforced a medical demonstration skeleton with a steel armature, and then positioned it to match the ending pose of the stage two puppet. To create the ashen material, Shea laid tissue paper and tempera paint into the mold of the initial screaming Sarah form. When it dried, he pulled that ‘skin’ out of the mold and carefully laid it on the skeleton like papier-mâché. Additional floating ash was simulated with gray and black paper napkins, shredded in a kitchen blender and stuffed into the form. Just prior to cameras rolling, Winston’s crew scored the form with an X-acto knife. When the special effects crew blasted it with air mortars, all the delicate skin and shredded napkin material blew off the skeleton like ash.
Pictured Above: Joe Reader applies hair to a burnt Sarah puppet.
Pictured Above: The extreme facial expression of the puppet was captured by cyberscanning Hamilton as she held a scream.
LIQUID METAL BLADE HAND KILL
In another scene, the T-1000 kills John Conner’s foster mother Janelle (Jenette Goldstein) and takes her form. Stan Winston Studio sculpted and produced a tapered blade arm, attached by strap to Goldstein, for a shot of the woman driving the blade through the head of her husband, Todd (Xander Berkeley). As the T-1000’s weapon of choice, blades built for the show would number in the hundreds. Although seemingly simple, the blades posed continual challenges to Stan Winston Studio artists and technicians, since the vacumetalizing process revealed even the most minute flaws in their form. The Janelle blade arm, for example, which was made of fiberglass and ABS plastic, had to be made and remade multiple times before the crew produced a perfect specimen.
Pictured Above: Ian Stevenson’s design for the T-1000 spike finger, a variation of the blade used to kill John Connor’s foster father, Todd (Xander Berkeley).
THE MOST DIFFICULT SHOW – AND ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE
Made on an incredibly tight schedule and featuring hundreds of character effects, TERMINATOR 2 would go down in the Stan Winston Studio record books as one of its most difficult projects — ever. “TERMINATOR 2 was all-encompassing, and often overwhelming,” Stan Winston Studio supervisor, and Legacy FX co-founder John Rosengrant noted. “There were so many gags, so many effects, it felt like we were always playing catch-up. There were lots of puzzles to solve, and very little time to solve them. There was never a moment to just stop and enjoy the process. Because of the number of effects, the variety of effects, the lack of time, and the intensity, TERMINATOR 2 was the most difficult show I’ve ever worked on.”
Pictured Above: A still from TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY as Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is turned to ash in a dreamed nuclear blast.
Pictured Above: A still from TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY as Todd (Xander Berkeley) gets stabbed by the Jeanelle/T-1000 (Jenette Goldstein).
TO WATCH THE NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN "TERMINATOR 2:JUDGMENT DAY" STAN WINSTON STUDIO TEST CLIPS, CLICK ON THE VIDEO PLAYER AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
Text excerpted from THE WINSTON EFFECT: THE ART AND HISTORY OF STAN WINSTON STUDIO by Jody Duncan, additional text by David Sanger.