Making cg-effects for Terminator 2 today?

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Old 05 May 2013   #1
Making cg-effects for Terminator 2 today?

Just curious
"The production of Terminator 2 required an unprecedented budget of more than $94 million (1991 dollars), much of which was spent on filming and special effects. "

How much it would cost today?
And, something which I feel about old movies, their vfx still looks better in many regards. Today we have animated crowds, but somehow they look "plastic". It kind of feels ironic that the more of it we have, the less it feels cool.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #2
If Terminator 2 was done today, I would assume it would be done on around that same budget. Perhaps tipping towards the $120 million range.
But thats because budgets are inflated nowadays WAY beyond what they need to be.

I think if Terminator 2 were to be made with todays tech, shot for shot, it could probably be done with the budget of a larger TV Mini Series. But that wouldn't happen, because of complexity for complexities sake. You would have fully digital double humans, instead of the awesome morphing technology they used. You would have larger battle scenes in the opening, instead of the bad-ass miniature and puppet work. It would just be a 'bigger' film.

A lot of the skill in the 80's scifi film making (In my opinion, the true golden age of film!) came from the limitations of the technology. The stories were tighter, because many of the effects had to be filmed BEFORE the main action (in the case of something like ALIENS, all of the stuff outside the windows was done with rear screen projection, for example).
You also had to write your way through things in interesting ways, instead of adding in a VFX sequence.

Something as well, which is lost on todays big budget movies, is that the larger effects sequences were always pivotal moments in the story, and were scattered strategically throughout the films. I would assume that it was because of the cost involved. Nowadays, there is some sort of effect in every shot, but back then those sequences were built up in the story, and felt special. Because they were. I still remember seeing the T1000 morphing out of the black and white tile pattern, or the awesome end sequence where his legs get melted to the grating.

I saw Iron Man 3 yesterday, and honestly would be hard pressed to describe in any detail any of the major set pieces. But I can tell you in detail what happens in the The Abyss pseudopod sequence, something I haven't seen in about a decade.

It does happen in some movies...the first time Iron Man suits up for example. But in the latest Iron Man film, he 'suits up' so often, it just becomes 'blasť'. I mean he parks the Iron Man suit outside a family restaurant fer-crying-out-loud.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #3
Just watch a good episode of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Whatever the budget was for that show should be sufficient. I think a lot of recent sci-fi TV shows are easily on the level of early 90's feature films.
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Old 05 May 2013   #4
Thank you for replies, that's interesting. I'll check those series.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #5
i would say it would cost twice as much minimum.
if you compare the prices for products 23 years ago, you would go with twice as much, perhaps a bit more. keep in mind, if you would do it today with cameron, it would easily go to 250 mio dollar with more modern vfx.
the same movie with same quality of sfx and vfx could be done with less money then the orig budget i think.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #6
Originally Posted by Kzin: the same movie with same quality of sfx and vfx could be done with less money then the orig budget i think.

Would it look as convincing as original if done in 3d? I suppose most of Terminator 2 robotic stuff was made with real props, so it still looks more convincing in most places.
Oblivion movie is the first one after many years I felt it "the real thing", but guess what, they also used real built props.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #7
Originally Posted by mister3d: Would it look as convincing as original if done in 3d? I suppose most of Terminator 2 robotic stuff was made with real props, so it still looks more convincing in most places.
Oblivion movie is the first one after many years I felt it "the real thing", but guess what, they also used real built props.


ilm showed that its possible with terminator 4, the t800 looked great i think, also the cg trucks, cars and bikes, or the half real, half cg robots from tippett (i think it was tippett).
 
Old 05 May 2013   #8
If made today the physical stunts and pyrotechnics would really crank up the budget I suspect. They blew up an old building for real.

A lot of the cg still looks good but there is a sense of it being less detailed--it goes milky silver--and the close up in the helicopter when he says "get out" the facial movements are much simpler than what you would see done today.

There is a tin foil man costume you see in a few shots in the fight in the steel mill--that would likely be gone. And the makeup effects would be combined with digital so Arnuld's face looks more convincingly eaten away.

That slow mo stunt with the motorcycle jump off the freeway had various support wires and cables that they digitally erased.

The difference in how things are shot really showed in terminator 3 because they didnt (I think) use much helicopter camera angles and it just felt less epic. The sequences with the military being attacked near the end felt like a cheap 1960s movie the way it was framed---cutting away to a plane in flight then an old bunker, then the arrival of the helicopter crashing into it. Real money saving.

But the terminator effects looked good. It was weird to see his head eaten away digitally after being accustomed to the makeup technique.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #9
I think all of the vehicular action would go a long way to keeping the costs up today. The LA river sequences are still so good (dun dun du DUN DUN!!!) and probably because they are all practical.

I imagine what little cost savings cg bring (running over a cg shopping cart as opposed to hitting a real one and hoping it doesn't get flung god-knows-where) for those shots would probably not tip the scales to a mostly cg solution like the vehicle stuff in Indiana Jones/Crystal Skull.


The T1000 is pretty comparable to TV character effects today I think, with a much better integrated practical fx budget and planning.

On a side note...that movie holds up better than most, but the rubber Arnold face mask and the strangely proportioned short guy on the motorcycles explode off of the small screen on BD. Yay CG face replacement.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #10
I remember reading somewhere that the CG costs for Terminator 2 were something like $38 million.
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Old 05 May 2013   #11
38 million? 300 dollars?

Why don't we add some production notes from Stan Winston into this discussion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHVtDQoSPdU

Can you do this today with just a few PC's and a lot of gunk you can buy at the local hardware store?

Many of the "hero FX" like the Pretzel Man and the "blown up head" can be done I think at Star Wars fan film levels...Totally CG this time... Chrome is one of the most first-tried materials anyone does in CG....and these shots would be made more easier if you still follow the "few frame inserts" cutting style that was used to jump between various FX setups (that means you can set up the CG in the same purpose-built way).

Now, obviously you can't have all your helicopters, trucks, bikes, and cars the way they did back then. It doesn't matter if you're doing Terminator or you're doing a remake of Magnum P.I. ... Those things are just out of your reach.

You can though... still get your Terminator fix in small scale scenes like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf2dn3m7yPU

Or I guess you can find ONE car and do something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9Hfp0MI3OM

OR.. you can portray the "Future War" using miniatures and CG crossed together.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 05 May 2013 at 12:47 AM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #12
Originally Posted by mister3d: Just curious
"The production of Terminator 2 required an unprecedented budget of more than $94 million (1991 dollars), much of which was spent on filming and special effects. "

Pay special attention to sfx and filming. That's not VFX.
Closing down a whole canal in LA and blowing up several thousand gallons of gasoline and shooting it from multiple angles with the safety crew requirements respected is no cheaper now than it was back then, mostly.

The VFX would be considerably cheaper shot for shot, but if they did it today we'd be asked to do forty times more shots, for about half the money
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Old 05 May 2013   #13
But if the question is, how expensive an exact replica of the movie would be today, it would probably be twice as much for all the live-action/animatronics/make-up stuff, and only like $1 mio. max for the VFX.

I dare to say that I could re-create all the CG in the movie in like a week to a month (which would of course cost much less than a million, but I'm no studio). The only thing I don't have a solution for right away would be the "passing through the bars" shot... would have to tinker a bit I think.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to downplay ILM's achievement at all. T2 is still a milestone in both digital as well as practical effects (just as JP was after that). It's just that CGI has come such a long way since then.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #14
mhhh i think people are underestimating the effort went in those shots. i highly doubt that most are even capable of doing one (a tiny bit more complicated) shot in your suggested timeframe of a week or month in the same quality.
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Old 05 May 2013   #15
done today the costs would probably be around the current blockbusters, with many more complex scenes ...but would it be a better movie? probably not...
 
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