Friday, December 12, 2014
In a dream sequence in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor dreams of standing at a chain link fence while she watches women and children play in a playground. A nuclear blast hits downtown Los Angles, and the huddled people on the playground burst into flames. Sarah clings to the fence, screaming. Her hair and clothing burn away, and then the ashes of her flesh explode away from her when the pressure wave hits.
This scene was ONLY possible because of the advent of laser scanning. There was no way any actor could hold a "scream face" for the length of time it took for a mold to be cast of their face. By scanning actress Linda Hamilton's face, computer model could be made and drills and lasers could sculpt her "scream face" from a foam base.
Three puppets were made of Sarah Connor kneeling at the fence. The first was designed to have its hands up by its face, and then lower them to the fence as the light-blast hits the playground. This was the most detailed of the puppets, as it had to look the most realistic. The flames of this puppet mostly rose upward into the air.
The second puppet held its scream-face and clung to the fence, moved from below by rods and poles. Once more, the flames mostly rose upward as it burned.
The third puppet was the most crucial. Here, the burned corpse of Sarah Connor had to be hit by the second blast-wave, and the burned flesh -- now ash -- fly away backward from the skeleton.
For this effect, a plastic medical school skeleton was reinforced with with a steel armature and in the correct post next to a prop fence. A mold was made of the styrofoam head. Tissue paper and tempura paint were applied to the inside of the mold to create a "skin". The "skin" was then applied to the skeleton. "Skin" was made for the rest of the skeleton as well. The interior of the puppet was then filled with grey and black paper napkins that had been finely shredded in a blender. The skin was then scored with a knife to ensure that it flew apart correctly.
A special effects crew blasted the puppet with flame and an air gun, and the "skin" and "flesh" flew away like ash.