When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future...
Lead by MPC VFX Supervisor Sheldon Stopsack and VFX Producer Chad Nixon, MPC completed more than 300 shots for Terminator: Genisys. Working closely with Production VFX Supervisor Janek Sirrs and VFX Producer Shari Hanson, the team’s work included recreating a ‘young Arnold’ T-800 digital character, Endoskeletons, an explosive battle at LAX, various CG set extensions and FX work.
The biggest challenge for MPC’s team was the creation of the iconic 1984 Arnold digital character, for a 1-1 recreation of scenes from the original Terminator movie and a brutal showdown between young and old at the LA Observatory.
MPC’s work began on set with VFX Supervisor Gary Brozenich joining the filmmakers to capture principal photography. For the recreation of the CG character, it was crucial to get the best coverage from the shoot including texture photography, set measurements and HDRI capture.
For the model build, a scan of an original cast taken of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984 was used along with a huge library of reference video and images. Around 220 different face shapes were crafted as a base for facial performance. The team then completed a MOVA performance capture with Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. This set of defined FACS shapes were used to refine what had been build up until that point. Performances of specific dialogue were taken.
The capture gave the animation team a strong base which they used as a reference to hand animate the digital double’s final facial performance on top. The subtleties of the team’s facial animation work, was a crucial element in maintaining believability when bringing the iconic character to life.
For the character’s skin, MPC’s techAnim team ran additional cloth solvers for more realistic skin behaviour and the rigging team created controls for subtleties such as blood flow tension and compression. A new physical based rendering approach was used, taking advantage of the latest and greatest path tracing technology, which allowed for multilayer scattering for the skin shading. MPC’s proprietary fur tool ‘furtility’ was used for the double’s hair.
Another challenge was to achieve the complex muscle behavior of Arnold’s body. Not only was it challenging to create a full dynamic and realistic human muscular system, but it also had to match the very unique appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger at that time. In total the CG character was built and refined over a period of 11 months.
MPC also worked on the visual effects for the action packed LAX battle sequence. The production art department delivered concept art showing aerial views of a destroyed LAX, with an enclosed camp and huge aircraft hanger.
MPC’s team extended the practical set build, and individual components of the Camp including sections of wall, fuel cells, towers and turret guns were recreated and placed around the CG environment . It was important that the location was recognisable as LAX so iconic landmarks such as the LAX tower and Theme Building / Encounter restaurant were kept. A large portion of the plates received involved practical effects such atmospherics and explosions and the FX team added additional explosions, fire, smoke and debris.
MPC also created the T-800 Endoskeleton robots which were based on life sized practical models built on set.