$190M on Adobe Premiere!?! THIS Is Why Terminator Dark Fate Flopped… #vfxbreakdown
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Terminator: Dark Fate cost a staggering 190 million dollars to make, but was actually edited with Adobe Premiere and After Effects, with Ryzen CPUs. So, if even the VFX were on a tight budget, where did the money go and how did Dark Fate end up being the second biggest bomb of 2019?
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A team of 120 artists produced the epic factory fight scene between Grace and the Rev-9, which incorporates background extensions for the car factory, Rev-9 Blade effects and stunt head replacements for both Grace and Gabriel – as well as a full Gabriel Digidouble.
Additionally, the team worked on the derelict building sequence where the Rev-9 catches up to our heroes and chases them both on foot and via helicopter in an abandoned industrial complex.
And also the air battle sequence, making interiors of the C5 Galaxy fight between Grace, Arnold and the Rev-9. This fight required head replacements for stunt doubles as well as full digi-doubles for Sarah, Dani, Grace, Arnold and Gabriel.
DigiDomain’s VFX were on point as usual, so let’s take it back a step, to pre-production.
A whopping 13 people were involved in writing Dark Fate, from directors (Cameron, Tim Miller) to producers,
(Ellison) it kinda feels like everybody and their mother had an opinion of how to make the sixth Terminator movie.
To put that into perspective, usually a blockbuster movie is written by 3 or 4 writers. So having 13 contributors is kind of like a committee trying to design a horse. And ending up with a camel.
Cameron even made changes to the script during filming, and even Hamilton and Schwarzenegger adapted their own dialogue on the fly.
A point in case is that at the start of the film, John Connor, a pinnacle character of the first two movies, of which Dark Fate was supposed to continue from, is killed! Which renders the first two movies completely pointless. Not to worry though, Dani will later become the leader of the resistance. And so a Rev-9 is sent back to destroy her. The thing is, that If John can be killed and replaced easily, then what’s to stop Dani from being killed and replaced as well? Creating an infinite loop of Terminator movies?
An interesting scene from a VFX standpoint, is after Grace enables autopilot to join the fight. As damage continues to happen to the plane’s exterior, the autopilot to continually tries and correct the plane’s trajectory, putting the actors and objects into an epic rumble tumble.
A plate was shot with Grace in the cockpit on a bluescreen set that did not have a stairway or a connection to the cargo bay below. Grace puts on the autopilot, and as she moves away from the pilot seat the shot turns fully CG to follow the Grace digi-double down the CG stairs into the cargo bay area. There she transitions to follow the gravity of the plane in a steep climb. As she is hanging there, surveying the damage, the camera goes past a full-frame head and face.
Here they used multiple cameras to track, model and animate her face, as well as to project textures to blend with the CG face render. Add to that blowing CG hair, muscle and cloth sim for her body, etc. Finally, she drops past the camera into the tempest of atmosphere and debris to join the other digi-doubles in the damaged interior.
Surprisingly the movie was edited using Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects, a common choice of software used by everyday YouTubers much less Hollywood studios.
Method Studios realized a five-minute sequence in which our heroes steal a C-5 military aircraft and take on a bunch of adversaries, not to mention the new Rev-9 Terminator who has commandeered a helicopter.
Filmed either on location or on bluescreen set pieces, Method added many of the aircraft and vehicles as CG assets.
Perhaps another thing adding to the downfall of the movie, was that John Connor is replaced by a female actress, the legendary role of Arnold Schwarzenegger is replaced by another female actress and these two are also protected by the matriarchal Sarah Connor. Perhaps because of this, the movie was deemed feminist by fans to which the director replied that he doesn’t give a f–well. Let’s just say, calling the fanbase “closet misogynists” doesn’t help them like your movie.
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