The movie site Fandango has a kickass behind the scenes trailer clip! 4:46 running time, you’d better sit down and watch! They’ve got actual T1’s on set, working and moving, as well as Endoskeletons. Cast interviews with Christian Bale (John Connor), Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams), Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright), Anton Yelchin (Kylse Reese). And Anton mentions about there being alot of “life sized action figures” onset…

“Whoopity fokking doo!” you’ll probably mutter under your breath…

So, let me ask you: “Why is this so awesome, and more seriously, why is this so important???”

Answer: Its not just the kewlness value. Read below and then tell me what you think…

In today’s movie productions, more and more effects and props are being done by CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), just simply because it can be done. Less and less actual movie set props are being made, much like a dying art. Why is this a problem? Its not because [CGI] its more convenient or cheaper, its because its harder on the actors to interact and react to something thats not there. They really have to cook up in their own imagination that some horrific thing is coming after them. Worse when they have to roleplay themselves getting pinned to the wall, lifted up and being strangled by the neck by an invisible hand. In otherwords, in an ironic or oxymoronic phrase, the actors are actually ‘pretend acting’ since they’re pretending to pretend. Then the CGI Department match up their 3d model animation to the video footage, then mix it all together. 90% of the pressure is up to the actor to give a beyond exemplary performance; with the remaining 10% on the CGI animators to fit and match animating their 3d model to the actor(s).

Just as important, the crux of this blog article / entry, lets look back at the previous Terminator movies in the franchise. T1 featured a small mix of CGI (future battlefield scenes), as well as relied more on live props such as an actual EndoSkeleton by necessity. Since Computer Generated models, animation and effects was a cost prohibitive venture in the 1980’s where CGI was still vastly in its infancy. In T2, we had another mix of limited CGI, with another battlefield clip, and reliance mainly on live and human props. Robert Stack simply had CGI effects added to him after in postwork. He was still very much there for the core acting. Edward Furlong (John Connor), and Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) also had the physical cpu chip and endo arm props to touch, use and handle. There was no ‘pretending’ there. In T3, we’ve got once again the classic Terminator mix of some future post J-Day battlefield CGI – more elaborate as advances computer processing allowed more, we’re treated to some overhead aerial shots and some ground based views, but the base and majority of the movie is pure acting and use of props. Kristanna Loken (T-X) had CGI effects applied to her in the video postwork stage. The prototype Terminators featured in T3 – HK Drones and the Series T-1 (T1-8) were animatronic prop models.

So we come right back around to McG’s T4…

While T4 does use alot more CGI effects for its explosions, some props since this film literally takes place in the post apoc J-Day; we’re still being treated to the classic production values that started the Terminator franchise. Just as the story is and always has been about humanity and survival, T4 is also featuring tried and true animatronic props for some of its SkyNet cast of actors. This clip contains some Animatronic Endoskeletons, a T-1 tank, and possibly more. This gives the cast and crew actual props to look and react to, and IMHO, provides for a more richer, natural and authentic performance on the actors behalf. Lets face it, even if theres a T-600 or T-700’s upper torseo on a cart coming towards you, its photoreceptor eyes glaring red, and machinegun in hand, that is just better for anyone to react to. Its natural instinct to look at the face, at the glaring eyes, at the gun in it’s hand as it’s stalking towards you. And on the screen, we the audience see that, the head motions, and the eyes moving to the actual prop, rather than and approximation of looking into space, or a green screen, as the multiple camera angles cut back and forth between predator and prey.

And I for one give Kudos to McG for keeping those values in the film production. If anyone’s ever watched the special features on DVD for a variety of films, when it comes to the cast interviews, this is a key point that keeps coming up. The actor / actress will always reflect on how tough it is being told to act out the scene to an invisible / imaginary [to be added in postwork] CG character or thing. And in most cases, they mention having to see it in their imagination mind’s eye, try to go with it, and hope it’ll look real enough and ultimately seem convincing enough when the movie debuts onscreen. Thankyou McG for giving this cast something actual to work with.

This is TerrasJ signing out!

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