Friday, December 12, 2014
The last great effect in Terminator 2: Judgment Day is what's called the "pretzel man effect". This occurs at the very end of the film in the steel mill. The T-800 has been almost destroyed, and the T-1000 has John and Sarah Connor at its mercy. At the last second, the T-800 hits the liquid metal T-1000 with a gun-launched grenade. The T-1000's body splits in half, the head barely attacked to the body, the face in shock.
The lower half of a foam body was built with knees bent. There were gimbles in the ankles and the ball of the feet, and the feet were attached to rods through holes in the floor. When the rods were moved (it took four puppetteers to do this), the limbs looked as if they were staggering about, and the creature trying to stand upright while stumbling about.
The concept art showed the entire upper body "splashed" open and nearly severed. The two arms dangled uselessly, while the head of the T-1000 -- an expression of surprise on its face -- dangled from the upper portion.
THREE puppets were made, nearly identical in their look but not design. For the first puppet, stiff nylon sheeting was used to casue the puppet to spring open when a tiny catch was released. This sheeting was so stiff, it could hold the foam head and arms in the air as well, and the puppet would bob about as if it were alive -- trying to reform.
The second puppet was far more detailed, and used in close-up shots. It lacked the spring-open motion, as it merely needed to hang in the air while the feet moved. The mouth opened and closed, and the eyes moved. These were radio-controlled using gears inside the foam head. The head itselt could turn about whenever a puppetteer off-stage pulled on a set of wires.
The third puppet was the least detailed. It had a weight in its back, as it was designed to fall into the "molten steel" below. (This was actually gelatin lit from below with orange lights.)
A partially completed "pretzel man" designed for spring-loaded splashing!
An almost fully completed "pretzel man" designed for spring-loaded splashing.
The completed "pretzel man", held together with pins and ready for popping open.