McG was on a mission to keep blue and green screens to a minimum. He wanted to shoot on actual locations with real elements -- including multiple Terminators -- whenever possible. That posed a complicated set of challenges.
"It's a really hard movie to physically produce and shoot," observes Daniel Lin. "We shot all of it in New Mexico and the conditions are very tough -- it's windy and it gets really hot and really cold."
Notes McG, "You experience four seasons in a day. The wind would regularly be over 60 miles an hour and would blow down the lighting towers. That would make for an exciting minefield to say the least." The fact that the set was located in a dry riverbed didn't help. "Dry silt is very powdery, and when you add wind to that it's incredible."
Sequences shot on a military base posed other problems. "There was a great deal of security to contend with. There comes a point where they can't let you past that final door," McG explains.
McG was also determined to shoot action sequences as seamlessly as possible, including a run through a minefield and a desert chase "with many moving parts" that took two weeks of first unit photography (with the actors) and another three by the second unit to shoot.
"I wanted to make sure the film was never reliant on cutting, upon edits to inject action," says McG. "I wanted to block the film in a way that was exciting to watch while staying in one shot. This keeps the audience immersed completely in the action."
Of course, with all that action, some computer-generated work had to be included. Find out how they used graphics in the next section.