Behind The Scenes

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

Terminator 2 Judgement Day brought new Terminator special effects challenges to SWS including the FX for the T-1000 played by Robert Patrick.

Jun 26, 2012

Terminator 2: Judgement Day...


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.”


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.


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 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"