T2 Goes 3D


November 1996

How do you create the ultimate 3D, liquid metal, Terminator, for 70mm stereoscopic film? For visual effects wizards at Digital Domain the answer is SOFTIMAGE®|3D. Terminator 2 3-D, an immersive, interactive 3D attraction, engages audiences in an, edge of your seat, battle between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the ultimate defensive, killing machine T-1,000,000 (T-Meg). The experience is now open at Universal Studios Florida.

Digital Domain, fans of the animation tools in SOFTIMAGE|3D, put modeling and mental ray rendering to the test on the 3D creature. They found the speed and power they needed in the modeler, and were blown away with the quality of the rendered image. Modeling the T-Meg was really challenging since it constantly morphs, implodes, regenerates. "Softimage Nurbs modeling, allows you to go further into the sculpting process...it ends up being sculpting with virtual clay," - Daniel Robichaud, Digital Domain's Digital Effects Supervisor. Animating with Inverse Kinematics and shape interpolation gave T-Meg its threatening, in your face, moves - continually transforming from one shape to another. After being frozen and blown to bits, liquid pools of T-Meg metal coagulate and re-form - frightening yet believable with the help of Softimage Metaclay. Rendering the completely metallic T-Meg, for 70mm stereoscopic film required the ultimate quality rendering engine. Not only does the T-Meg reflect its environment, it reflects itself - only possible with Softimage's powerful ray trace renderer - mental ray. With the unprecedented early success of T2 3-D for Universal Studios Florida, Digital Domain, is on their way to achieving the same recognition in character animation as they have in compositing and special effects. Based in Los Angeles, Digital Domain, is a widely acclaimed full-service digital production studio best known for its Oscar-nominated special effects in "True Lies" and "Apollo 13".