Home of the 3D Thrills

by Rick DeMott

Universal City 1999 A.D. Sent by my curiosity, three friends and I ventured forth in search of a new thrill. The location chosen was the Universal Studios Hollywood Terminator 2 3D attraction.

He's back! And in 3D. The Terminator 2 3D ride thrills audiences with its (literally) in your face action. © Universal Studios, Inc.

After being ushered into a large waiting room, a very chipper employee of Cyberdyne, creators of the Terminator cyborgs, show us a wonderful propaganda film on how the company will better enhance the world and our lives. But wait, what's this? The broadcast is interrupted. Our chipper host runs around in a panic. On the screen flashes Sarah and John Connor, played by Terminator 2 stars Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong. After the Connors warn us of Cyberdyne's Big Brother-like Skynet program, our quickly collected host moves us into a stadium theatre where animatronic T-70 Terminators rise from the floor. However pandemonium soon breaks loose when new live actors playing Sarah and John Connor rush into the theatre in an attempt to destroy the corporation's world domination plans. All is not safe when the T-1000 Terminator leaps from the 165 foot screen ready to waste us and our heroes. But that's not all! Exploding forth on a 1,500 pound Harley Davidson "Fat Boy" motorcycle comes the T-101 Terminator (i.e. an Arnold Schwarzenegger look-a-like) to save the day. He grabs John Connor and rides off into the screen. So begins the most expensive frame for frame live-action film of all time. Moreover, it's all in 3-D.

For T2 3D James Cameron and crew even created a new Terminator called the T-1,000,000. © Universal Studios, Inc.

Three sets of Iwerk twin-arranged 65mm cameras are used to project the film on three 23' x 50' screens. This array creates a 180 degree visual surface, plus a state-of-the art sound system blasts 45,620 watts of sound through 159 speakers, as actors Furlong and Schwarzenegger ride along a futuristic wasteland with the camera sweeping through explosions. This feat of camera work has never been done in 3D films before due to the difficulty of moving the 450 pound cameras used to film in 3D. Oscar-winning director James Cameron, Oscar-winning visual effects specialist Scott Winston (Jurassic Park and Aliens), and Oscar-winning visual effects specialist John Bruno (The Abyss) created an intricate pulley system that allowed the camera to move up to 50 mph. Forty-seven digital artists from Venice, CA-based Digital Domain, Inc. worked with the co-directing team of Cameron, Winston, and Bruno to create the film. Cameron even elicited aid from Dr. Ken Jones of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Even the big man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "What we have created with T2 3D is the quintessential sight and sound experience for the 21st century."

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