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Full liquid metal, now in 3D: re-visiting the freakin’ T-1000 walking out of the fiery truck crash

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

If you’ve never seen James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day – either on the big or small screen – now’s the time to embrace this wonder of filmmaking and effects. The movie has been digitally re-mastered and received the ‘full liquid metal 3D’ stereo conversion treatment by Stereo D. The new release just premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and will have public release dates around the world in August.

Twenty-six years ago, T2 helped usher in a new wave of digital visual effects artistry thanks to the pioneering computer graphics work by ILM, capitalising on their work for The Abyss, and then which the studio took even further on Jurassic Park.

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It was the liquid metal T-1000 played by Robert Patrick that represented the majority of this CGI work in the film. Indeed, a hero reveal of the ‘cybernetic organism’ emerging from the flames of a burning truck wreckage became one of ILM’s signature shots for years to come.

Two of the principal artists behind that work were animation director Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams and associate visual effects supervisor Mark Dippé. In this special vfxblog interview conducted at SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Terminator 2, Williams and Dippé recount their efforts to create that memorable shot, known as CC-1.

The making of ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ making of book


I’m a collector (some might say ‘hoarder’). Most people know about the Speed stuff, but over the years I’ve also amassed dozens of ‘making of’ film books. Which is why when DK asked me last year to consult on their The LEGO Batman Movie: The Making of the Movie book, I could barely contain myself.

It would involve spending time in DK’s London offices and a week at Animal Logic, the animation studio behind the film. My brief was to identify some of the main points for discussion in the book and pick out a bunch of cool imagery to show.

I have to say, the book came out even better than I imagined. It’s a neat cross between the more common ‘art of’ books now available for animated films and the classic ‘making of’ books that I collect. Every spread does an incredible job of highlighting the huge amount of work involved, especially by Animal Logic, in bringing the film to life by showcasing concept designs, storyboards, work in progress shots and final scenes.

Also, having seen the film, the book somehow does a killer job of not spoiling the movie while still revealing so much (which is rare).  So, I hope you like the book – you can buy it at Amazon. Look out for my ‘animation consultant’ credit in the back. And I can tell you the film is awesome, too.

What it’s like to attend the ‘other’ Oscars or: How I learned a whole new story I hadn’t heard before about ‘Speed’

89th Academy Awards, Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards

“This isn’t like the other Oscars, or as I like to call them, ‘the dumb Oscars,’ where at the end of the night, 80 per cent of the people in the room are losers. You guys are tremendous. Those guys are sad.”

That was actor John Cho, of Star Trek and Harold & Kumar fame, presenting at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards, which I was lucky enough to attend last night in Los Angeles.

More on the incredible work that Cho and his presenting partner and This is 40 and How to be Single actress Leslie Mann did last night at the Sci-Techs, but first a note about how this all relates to Speed (yes, really).

Ken Ralston, people


Last night at the VES Awards, vfx supervisor Ken Ralston was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. A few days earlier I’d been able to chat to him about his career, about some specific films like Roger Rabbit and Polar Express, and about his take on the current state of the industry. Check it out at Cartoon Brew.

The race to finish Dante’s Peak…20 years ago

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Today, many of the visual effects in the 1997 disaster flick Dante’s Peak would probably be done completely digitally. Pyroclastic flows, exploding buildings, bridges and cars being swept away by a torrent of ashen river – these are things that can be done with complex effects simulations, CG elements and masterful compositing.

But two decades ago, the techniques were still in their infancy, and a hybrid approach to realising such shots involving miniatures, practical effects and then augmenting with digital techniques, was just emerging.

c4cygjcvmaagyl_Dante’s Peak, directed by Roger Donaldson, took advantage of this approach by incorporating some of the most convincing miniatures ever put to screen – especially for the river and bridge scene – and using nascent digital effects tools to add even more layers of realism. The work was realised by Digital Domain as well as a host of other modelmaking studios and digital effects houses.

To celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, vfxblog spoke to overall visual effects supervisor Patrick McClung, then at DD, about the hybrid effects in Dante’s Peak, how the decisions about miniatures were made, and how the only slightly related Volcano film heavily influenced production.