Inside "Terminator Salvation"

Visual vs. Special Effects in "Terminator Salvation"

A pair of Moto-Terminators in attack mode.
A pair of Moto-Terminators in attack mode.
Photo courtesy or Warner Bros. Pictures

As noted above, McG was equally set on using minimal green and blue screen. "I don't like actors emoting to tennis balls on C-stands. It's a lot better when they can respond to what's going on," he believes.

His actors concur. "It's a tremendous advantage for the performances and for the audience when something is real," says Moon Bloodgood, who plays resistance fighter Blair Williams. But certain sequences, including a helicopter crash early on, required green screen. "We built a 360 degree cyclorama and inserted the environment after the fact," notes McG.

CGI was put to use for such additions and subtractions like cable removal and creating the Harvester and Hunter-Killer Terminators as well as the motorcycle-mounted Moto-Terminators. "There are about 1,500 visual effects shots but about 200-300 complex three-dimensional visual effects," estimates McG.

While the Moto-Termintors were mostly CG-created via motion capture using Ducatis and riders with tracking dots for reference, there was a prop version on set. Christian Bale did his own riding in a scene where he overpowers a Moto-Terminator and takes off on it.

For the non-virtual effects, McG turned to Stan Winston Studios, which created the original Terminator and had worked on all three previous films. Sadly, Winston died in June 2008 after battling cancer for more than seven years, but had turned the business over to his protégés, now known as Legacy Effects. John Rosengrant, who joined Winston 26 years ago and worked with him on the T-800 Arnold Schwarzenegger played in the first film, was the Animatronics Supervisor and Special Makeup Effects Supervisor on "Terminator Salvation." The process of creating the deadly machines is somewhat easier today, he observes. Learn how they did it in the next section.