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TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY - Sarah's Nightmare FX & T-1000 Blade Arm Kill

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY - Sarah's Nightmare FX & T-1000 Blade Arm Kill

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).

-Jody Duncan

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.

Terminator 2's T-1000: The "Splash Head" Effect

Terminator 2's T-1000: The "Splash Head" Effect

Terminator 2: Judgement Day...

MEET THE T-1000

Although they were all much improved and technologically far more advanced, the T-800 endoskeletons, Terminator makeups and Arnold puppets were challenges the Stan Winston Studio crew had met before. They would be breaking all new ground with the unprecedented T-1000 liquid metal effects. “The endoskeletons, which had been the big deal on Terminator, were the least of our problems on Terminator 2,” Stan Winston Studio supervisor and Legacy Effects co-founder John Rosengrant said. “By far, the most challenging things we did for Terminator 2 were these physical effects involving the T-1000 character. We did a lot of in-camera magic tricks for that — splitting open bodies, finger blades, heads blowing open, bullet-hit wounds. Every day, there was something new and challenging to do.”

THE T-1000 "SPLASH HEAD"

When the young John Connor and the Terminator break out Sarah from the state hospital, with the T- 1000 in pursuit, the T-1000’s head is split apart at an elevator door by the Terminator’s point-blank gunfire. Stan Winston Studio built two articulated puppets for what was dubbed the ‘splash head’ effect. The first was employed for the shot of the head initially springing open, viewed from behind the T-1000.

Pictured above: The final 'splash head' rendering by Mark "Crash" McCreery.

THE SCULPTURE

Studio artists sculpted Robert Patrick in clay, then split that clay sculpture down the middle and pulled it open, sculpting a ‘splash’ area into the middle of it.

Head #1

The foam rubber puppet was then made from molds of that sculpture. The puppet had a hinged fiberglass core that would spring open with the pulling of a single pin.


Pictured above: SWS artist Beth Hathaway patches a foam latex "splash head" in preparation for painting.

Head #2 - Practical mixed with Digital - An FX revolution is born.

Pictured above: Shannon Shea & Mike Spatola work on one of the 3 'splash heads" created by SWS for the effect.

THE FINAL EFFECT

The frontal view of ‘splash head’ (pictured above) required a more detailed puppet that featured eye mechanisms working independently on either side of the T-1000’s split face. Pulley mechanisms pulled the sides of the head toward the middle to suggest the beginning of the healing effect, which was finished off with ILM’s computer graphics.


-Jody Duncan

Excerpt from the book "The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio"

 

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