Terminator 2 won the Best Visual Effects Oscar in 1991 for a reason. Time-tested VFX plus ground-breaking CGI created a roller-coaster ride that continues to thrill over thirty years later. What’s interesting about the movie is that it didn’t rely purely on computer graphics imaging (CGI). A large amount of the special effects in the film were created by ‘practical effects,’ simple time-tested tricks created by a century of artisans in the movie industry. Take a look at this article discussing the simplicity of the ‘bullet effects’ in Terminator 2:
As the article mentions, Winston and his team researched the correct “look” for the splash impacts by firing projectiles into mud and painstakingly working to duplicate the resulting shapes. These realistic-looking crater sculpts were then cast in some mixture of foam rubber, and given a chromed look by way of vacuum metallizing. These foam rubber splash patterns — which look like metal but aren’t — were deployed using a simple mechanical system. To trigger a bullet impact effect, a wireless remote control pulls a cable, which pulls its attached pin, and the compressed splash pattern blossoms forth in an instant, bursting through pre-scored fabric in the process.
So yes, the bullet effects are a ‘hack,’ an art form that uses something in a way in which it was not originally intended. SFX artists are master hackers, highly creative people. Hackers bask in the glory of building it instead of buying it, repairing it rather than trashing it, and raiding their junk bins for new projects every time they can steal a few moments away and Hackaday celebrates that. Good for them!
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive on a scifi topic. Please feel welcomed to dive down the rabbit hole of every other Sci-Friday I’ve published in the past couple years. Have a great weekend! 🙂