… for Visual Effects

Tip #1635: Converting “Terminator 2” to 3D

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

1,800 artists, 8 months, tens of thousands of rotoscopes.

Detail from converting “Terminator 2” to 3D. (Courtesy of VFXVoice.com)

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This article, written by Ian Failes, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

James Cameron loves stereo. After also championing the stereo conversion of Titanic a few years ago, Cameron’s latest 3D re-release is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The 1991 film was first re-mastered in 4K, before receiving the stereo treatment from Stereo D (part of Deluxe).

Before the stereo conversion could take place, Deluxe’s Post and Restoration Services Group, housed out of EFILM, scanned the film at 4K on a custom wet gate scanner. “The wet gate liquid conceals and reduces most base and emulsion scratches,” explains Deluxe’s Allan Tudzin. “The technology submerses the film frame into liquid, making the scratch invisible to the camera.”

The Post and Restoration Services Group also removed dirt and repaired scratches. The manual ‘dust busting’ procedure took hundreds of hours to clean the 4K scans back to their original pristine condition, but it was a necessary step since the 3D conversion process essentially involves rotoscoping thousands of images in every frame.

The mandate from Cameron, notes stereographer Yoichiro Aoki, was simply to “make a great 3D experience,” while also keeping things as realistic as possible. That, adds stereo supervisor Russell McCoy, meant maintaining good internal shaping for all the characters, particularly Arnold Schwarzenegger as the now-good T-800 Terminator.

Incredibly, that effort took around 1,800 artists about eight months to pull off. “It sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not,” says McCoy. “With a project that spans eight months, everyone gets a shot. And since there has to be so much detail and so much work put onto these shots, breaking it up into small teams just doesn’t work.”

The article continues with more details on the process, along with trailer and featurette videos.


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