Behind The Scenes

TERMINATOR 3 Behind-the-Scenes - The First Terminators

Go behind-the-scenes of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines as the animatronic T-1 robots come to life at Stan Winston Studio.

Aug 17, 2013

THE FIRST TERMINATORS

The climax of the film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, takes place at Cyber Research Systems, which has produced not only the Skynet defense system — which is due to launch multiple nuclear attacks within hours — but also robotic T-1 tanks that turn on their human creators.

Pictured above: Stan Winston Studio concept art for the T-1's by Aaron Sims.

HYDRAULICALLY POWERED "REAL" ROBOTS

Stan Winston Studio built five T-1s for the sequence at CRS headquarters, two of which were fully functional, hydraulic robots. “These T-1s were real robots,” said 25-year Stan Winston Studio supervisor and co-founder of Legacy Effects, John Rosengrant. “They were hydraulically powered machines that could spin around and drive and do all kinds of things.”

Pictured above: Intimidation tactics - a front line of T-1 terminators prepare for action.

LINKING THE OLD AND THE NEW

Concept artist, Aaron Sims, employed the same methodology for the T-1 that he had used for the T-X, first creating a 3D digital model that was based on a design from the T3 art department, headed by production designer Jeff Mann. Incorporated in the design were tank tracks, as well as neck pistons and rods that were similar to the original Terminator endoskeleton, to create a visual link between these prototypes and their future cousins.

Pictured above: The Stan Winston Studio mechanical team runs the hero animatronic T-1 tank through its paces, learning its movement vocabulary.

“We also gave it red lights for eyes,” said Sims, “and a chrome look — both of which were similar to the original Terminator.” Computer-milled foam parts were then molded and reproduced in resin. Final parts were made of fiberglass over steel and aluminum with a brushed metal finish.

Pictured above: Treads adapted to the T-1 from commercial treads purchased from Mattracks in Karlstad, Minnesota.

TANK TRACKS FOR A T-1

The final assembled T-1s stood seven feet tall, weighed 3,500 pounds, and featured articulated heads and arms, and turning turrets. The T-1s could travel seven miles per hour on their tank tracks, which were procured from an outside vendor. “Because of my interest in military history and armored tanks,” Rosengrant commented, “I knew that we weren’t going to be able to make the tracks on the T-1 in the time we had. So Alan Scott and I found this company called Mattracks, which makes conversions for pick-up trucks. Guys up in Minnesota or other cold parts of the country will pull their wheels off and put these tracks on their trucks, so that they can drive in deep snow. Tim Nordella figured out how to interface between these pre-fab tracks and the T-1. When it was all put together, the T-1 was a real, functioning robot.”

Pictured above: Stan Winston channels the T-1 on the set of TERMINATOR 3: Rise of the Machines.

 

Pictured above: Arnold Schwarzenegger battles his primitive brethren, the T-1, in TERMINATOR 3: Rise of the Machines.

REAL ROBOTS

“In Terminator,” Winston observed, “we pretended to build robots, but actually used stop-motion animation and puppetry and bits of animatronics. In Terminator 2, we advanced to digital animation and a full-standing animatronic with a range of motion — but we were still pretending to build robots. In Terminator 3, we actually built robots.”

-Jody Duncan

Excerpted from THE WINSTON EFFECT: THE ART AND HISTORY OF STAN WINSTON STUDIO

More TERMINATOR STUFF from Stan Winston School