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“ We're developing a lot of fluid simulation, computer simulation stuff that hasn't been seen before. ”

Visual Effects Supervisor Pablo Helman, ILM on T3

About Interview Terminator 3 cast and crew

Thu 13 Mar 2003 | 01h00 GMT+1
Info: reports from behind the scenes. A interview with the cast and crew;

Back when I visited the set of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I talked to a lot of the behind-the-scenes crew working to bring the film to life. I didn't include any of them in the first story because, well, I wanted to milk the material for all it's worth. So, now that we're in the middle of February and there are no really big movies, you can read more about this summer's cyborg epic, Terminator 3 from the people making it happen. Of course nobody would reveal any details, but perhaps these teases will whet your appetite for the film.

Stan Winston returns for the animatronic designs. Having produced the endoskeletons from the first two Terminator films, Winston promises new improvements for the third film's creatures. "We are so far advanced in robotics and animatronics that what we had to pretend we were doing in Terminator 1, in many ways we are creating some real robots in Terminator 3," Winston said. "You will see in Terminator 3 ultimately the most advanced robotic effects and the most advanced digital effects and an advanced blending and above it all, artistically and creatively, the new terminators will be beyond what you've seen in the previous movies."

Of course, old favorites will remain. "The endoskeleton is the endoskeleton," Winston continued. "Now, how that relates to Arnold is something that you have to wait and see for this movie. But as we did in each movie, we've taken it further in Terminator 3 than we have taken it before. Everything is beyond what we've done before. It will not be a simple repetition of history but it will be a very legitimate extension of the Terminator series."

Visual Effects Supervisor Pablo Helman is responsible for those effects Winston's creatures cannot achieve. He hinted at some of the revolutionary techniques the ILM crew have developed for T3. "We're developing a lot of fluid simulation, computer simulation stuff that hasn't been seen before," Helman said. "We had to marry practical things that Stan Winston was bringing in, all the puppets, plus we had to match his puppet to the digital puppet."

Helman was also able to make use of some material from the previous films. "We have rescanned everything, although oddly enough, it actually is our responsibility to take a look at the Terminator franchise and what has been done on T1 and T2. We do think that a lot of fans will want to see some of the things that were begun on T1 and T2 so we're really respectful of that kind of heritage."

If Terminator 3 looks different from the first two, that will be in part to the visual styling of cinematographer Don Burgess. He worked in conjunction with director Jonathan Mostow to distinguish T3 from its predecessors. "Jonathan and I have come up with an interesting take on The Terminator and the color of this movie. If the first two were cold and blue, this one certainly is not cold and blue. It's going a different direction."

Production Designer Jeff Mann had to find a balance between the traditional Terminator tone and a new look for the film. "There's a certain amount of what's come before that I've embraced and there's a certain dictum based on what has come before in the Terminator franchise, visually of what's going on," Mann said. "I never want to compromise that and I listen very intently to what Jonathan, our director, has to say about what he holds dear from what has come before. But I also look at it as an opportunity. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I'm trying to show a wheel that possibly hasn't been seen before, work within that."

For the big cemetery shoot-out scene, Mann built additions onto an existing crypt to create a unique set. "What you're looking at is an extension of an existing architecture that we inherited by coming [to this cemetery]. The main entry doors to the returns on either side of it are the existing structure. We added the two wings from where that wall returns going left and right where both the stained glass windows are. We took the cue from what was here. It's very neo-Mediterranean/early California. This was actually the first private crypt in California. It didn't belong to a family. You could buy slots in the crypt. It's the first one in all of southern California, built in 1922 I think originally. Unfortunately, there was a remodel done probably in the '70s on the interior where they added carpet and paint. I would have loved to see what the finishes were before they got in there."

Ultimately, Winston promises fans everything they love about terminators and more new toys in the Terminator tradition. "Challenging myself is something I do on every movie," Winston said. "I won't do it if I have to do what I did yesterday. So, we go into every movie with the idea of what are we going to do differently and beyond anything you've seen with The Terminator, with Arnold? So, you've got to end up knowing that you're going to see Arnold at the end of this movie in a way you've never seen him. You've got to know that there's a new terminator. We have the TX, the female. What does she look like? She's got to be beyond what you've seen before. It can't be a replication of what we did with Robert Patrick and the T-1000. We have to create a new terminator, someone that you believe could in fact kick Arnold's ass, in the shell of a very beautiful woman. That's what we've done and I promise you will love seeing the TX. And, there is more to look forward to as far as 'terminator' robots than just the T-800 and the TX."

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