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The Terminator – Other Voices (Documentary).
Part 3 – Visual effects and music.
(From "Terminator" Ultimate Edition. Disc 2)
English subtitles.


J.C. - James Cameron (Movie’s director).
B.W. – Bill Wisher (Add’l dialogue / Cameron collaboration).
S.W. – Stan Winston (Terminator makeup effects creator).
G.W.J – Gene Warren, Jr (Fantasy II VFX Supervisor).
A.S. - Arnold Schwarzenegger (Actor).
L.H. – Linda Hamilton (Actress).
M.B. – Micheal Biehn (Actor).
G.A.H. – Gale Anne Hurd (Producer).
J.V. – Joe Viskocil (Visual effects pyrotechnicial).
M.G. – Mark Goldblatt (Film edition).
B.F. – Brand Fiedel (Composer).

("CREATING THE TERMINATOR: VISUAL EFFECTS AND MUSIC").

J.V.: We started off with the hunter-killer sequence first. Future-war sequence. We first built a three-foot platform which all the miniatures would be shot on. In the background were cut-outs of ruined cities and in the foreground you had ruined buildings and skulls and things of that nature.

G.W.J.: We forced perspective a lot because, to have the distance that appeared there, you have to have far larger stages and distance. So the backgrounds were generally a smaller scale, with cut-outs and usually foam core, or cardboard in some cases, just to make the silhouettes for the backlight. The skulls that the HK rolls over were about this big. And also, in some of those shots, we had a larger scale in the foreground. Like shooting across a skull that was right in the foreground, I couldn't do it with these little ones and still hold the depth of field.

J.V.: Gene is a master of forced-perspective photography. With a full-size human skull in the foreground and little skulls no further than a foot away, it gives it the illusion like there's a ton of them, first of all, but it's real skulls.

G.W.J.: One of the problems is that many of those close shots were on wide lenses, with a lot of hand-held work where I'd be four, five, six inches away from the model, shooting high-speed at anywhere from 80 to 120 frames a second. The sets were very hot. We had to have lights really pounding in there. In order to maintain focus and depth of field so that it didn't appear to be miniatures, you had to have a real high light level.

J.V.: When it came to building these hunter-killer tanks, we literally built them from the ground up, meaning that once the treads were finished, then we'd go in and shoot those scenes, and then a portion of the body, and then eventually the top section. And then the head was radio-controlled. It had to be built in stages because there wasn't any time. We had to start shooting right away because of a lot of scenes that required opticals, the lasers.

G.W.J.: Jim had a vision of what he wanted the lasers to look like, and not just a single line that glowed. He wanted them to have a lot of depth, complexity. He had a colour that he was really working for. An awful lot had to go through an optical to put the lasers on. Most of the searchlights, though, were actually accomplished on set, within the smoky environment we had.

J.V.: Smoking up the stage was to hide, basically, the cut-outs in the back because the set was forced perspective. The entire depth of the set was approximately maybe 16, 18 feet. So we had to give it distance by creating this atmospheric haze over the entire set to give it scale.

G.W.J.: We used a lot of cracker smoke, Also we were still occasionally using, when we needed it thicker, gum olibanum, which is a bee-smoker thing that you actually burn charcoal.

J.V.: If you're Catholic, you know what the smell smells like (laugh). We'd be sucking in this smoke every single day. It was as hot as hell in Burbank during the summer.
The grenade that goes underneath the tank treads was just a two-inch little set piece. To try and get it to go directly underneath the treads was a pain in the ass (laugh). I think we got it on the 26th take.

G.W.J.: We wanted the explosions to have a lot of energy and punch.

J.V.: The nucleus of an explosion has usually a bright orange look to it. But what I added to this charge were two AG1 General Electric flashbulbs. To create that orangey effect was an orange amber gel over the flashbulbs. I would have the flashbulbs go off first and then the explosion. What I would do to create a fiery effect was to use, of all things, walnut dust. Walnut dust, once it's atomised, will create a fireball.
The flying HK wasn't, also, completely built. We built only one, and it was very rough at that. The detail was really on the undercarriage of it. So they had to make cut-outs of the pods on the side, and put 'em on, because they needed a shot right away with the flying HKs. We got away with a few shots like that.
One of the problems I remember having was how to make it fly and not go back and forth as you pull it. So it was all on cables. It was all on piano wire that held it up. We had wires that went off for the lights that are on the side of it also. We did a lot of scenes where, halfway through, the motor would slow down and the whole thing would be jerking back and forth. We got through it. It turned out OK.

G.W.J.: Most composites where principal actors are in front of either miniatures or some type of effect are done with either front-screen projection or rear screen. Both are employed in this.

J.V.: Jim was a big advocate of rear screen also. A lot of those scenes were accomplished first. Gene planned it out so that we knew exactly what he needed for the processing shots or the opticals that needed to go into it. Gene is a master at that sort of thing.

G.W.J.: The tanker-truck sequence, that blows up at the end, was all done full miniature on a complete miniature set. There were no composites on that.

J.V.: Jim Cameron originally wanted to blow a full-size tanker truck up, but he couldn't because where he was shooting, in downtown Los Angeles, was in front of the police armoury, so they had all the guns and the ammunition and the police helicopters up on the roof of this building. So what Gene had to do was create the entire atmosphere in miniature, 1:6 scale, in the front parking lot of Fantasy II in Burbank, and then blow up a miniature tanker truck.

G.W.J.: The end of the explosion had to match what had already been shot ten days before in principal. Since principal was shot first, you had the wreckage of the truck on fire and burning, and so we had to blow it up and have it end up looking like the wreckage.

J.V.: I have always had the philosophy of chain reaction. Stretching out the scene. So when Michael Biehn puts in the pipe bomb at the back end of the tanker truck, I envisioned the explosion happening at the back end of the tanker truck, rushing towards the cab of the truck, instead of one giant explosion. There was a total of 42 separate explosions on the tanker truck. It created a terrific look. The first time we tried this, the gas was loaded, the bombs were loaded, the wiring was all done, the cameras were ready. We got three cameras shooting 120 frames per second. The lights were ready. Everything is ready. What happened was, the cable that was attached to the front axle pulled it so hard that it ripped it out from underneath the cab. There are the wheels. I'd already started the explosion, so I had to set it off the rest of the way.

G.W.J.: Best-laid plans, you know (laugh)? You do everything you can to make something work right.

J.V.: So I set off the rest of the charges. We put it out, and there was a collective groan amongst everybody on the set. Right away, we started working on another model. Two days later we got the shot. To this day there's a lot of people that still think that it's not a model that's only a foot and a half high and eight feet long.

("HEARTBEAT OF A MACHINE")

G.A.H.: We were submitted quite a few samples for possible composers for the film. When you come to music, that's where you literally have no money left.

B.F.: They had a low-budget action picture. That's how it was billed. So it was, like, "OK." It wasn't anything I was superexcited about. We had that sit-down talk where the filmmaker tells you sometimes, before he shows you his film, what he feels the film is about and what elements are in it. I'd been through a lot of those talks, the philosophy and the depth of it and the dream of the filmmaker. Then, in many cases, they show you the picture and you sit there going, "Where is that movie? Where's the movie they were talking about?" It's, like, "Is it there? I don't see it. There's a little..." "I understand what he was talking about." They're talking about some big concept and one little thing relates to it. So I sat down and, I must say, I wasn't cynical, but Jim had a lot of big feelings about the film and passion for it, so when he spoke about it was very impressive. Part of my brain's going, "Let's see." And I'm watching the film. Ten minutes in, I'm going, "It's here." "Wow. It's really here. What he's talking about is on the screen." The depth, the mood, the energy and the intensity of it. So I'm sitting going, "I gotta do this. Gotta do this." We're watching the film and it's mattering more and more to me. I'm really feeling vulnerable. Instead of being, "Let's see," I'm going, "Please. I hope you're gonna hire me for this movie." And there was a point where he blows up and I go, "If he gets up one more time, I'm leaving." I thought I was thinking it, and I said it out loud in the room. Then I'm sitting there thinking, "I can't believe it." "I can't believe I said that. I just lost the job." I got very quiet, watched the rest of the film and figured, "That's it."

G.A.H.: Brad really got the idea that this needed to have a percussive driving beat to go with the action of the film.

B.F.: It was the idea of this mechanical man, in a sense, and his heartbeat.

G.A.H.: He was great, because he had no time, he had no money and we were adding shots all the time in postproduction as we'd get them in, and it didn't faze him a bit.

J.C.: He did the whole score in his garage. It was a cool garage. He had a lot of good gear.

B.F.: I had all these individual keyboards and they had to be played individually. Every note is live-performed, except I had an Oberheim situation where I could put a little drum machine and a little (sing melody)… Those things were chained together, but it was their technology. It didn't interface with anything else. So if my Prophet 10 was going... (sing melody) ...and the other thing was going... (sing melody) ...I had to literally sit there, live, and change the tempo and try to get them to match. Part of the nature of the score is me trying to get control of the machines. The machines try to get control of the people in the movie, and I'm trying to get control of these machines.
When they finally get together in the police station, and he's now, someone who had been stalking her, he's taking her and they're partners, in a sense. I thought, "Great! And they're escaping." (sing melody) "They're running out of the police station." Jim heard that and he said, "No way." He said, "That's gonna open up a part of the brain of the audience that's emotional and maybe a little intellectual." "The theme, they're together. It taps a little part of their..." He said, "I don't wanna distract their synapses." "I just want them like this. I just want them to go..." So the music is the same. We just took the theme out. But underneath there was the running of it. The theme, I just thought, gave it this heroic moment. He just said, "No." And I think that, in that awareness, he knew exactly why he didn't want the theme there. I hadn't worked with a director that was dealing quite on that level.


Text by Shman.


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