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Building The World Of "Terminator Salvation"
The practical challenge for the filmmakers of "Terminator Salvation” was to bring to life an America circa 2018 with its sun-blasted expanses, skeletal cities and both human and Terminator occupants. From finding the ideal locations and shooting facilities, to the fabrication of every physical element, to the type of film stock used to capture the otherworldly vistas he sought, McG worked in close collaboration with his team to create a unified and totally new vision for the post-apocalyptic reality of the story.

To pervade the imagery with a post-war tone, McG and his director of photography Shane Hurlbut shot the film using an experimental version of the "Oz process” in film processing. "We took an old film stock from Kodak and we let it sit in the sun too long to degrade some of its qualities,” explains McG. "Then we processed it in a way where we added more silver than you would traditionally add to a color film stock. And we went even further to manipulate that in the digital intermediate to give the film an otherworldly quality that gives you the impression that something's just off with the way this world looks, which is in keeping with the mood of the entire picture.”

The locations would also play a major role in grounding the film in tactile reality. "We wanted a big, vast world,” McG affirms. "To do that, we needed this incredible diversity in our locations. In this film, we go to the sea, we go to the mountaintop, we go to the desert, we go to the jungle. Added to that, we wanted to capture a world at war; the entire world is involved in this conflict, and we wanted to open the film up and make it feel like a huge cinematic experience in that respect.”

The filmmaking team was able to accomplish all of that in one place when they chose Albuquerque, New Mexico, with its combination of sweeping deserts, mountain landscapes and the modern stages at Albuquerque Studios.

"When you're making a movie about an American icon, following the journey of John Connor as he chases Terminators, you want to have that American backdrop behind you,” says production designer Laing. "Judgment Day has taken place, so we have a devastated landscape and out here, you literally open the door of the stage and you see these amazing deserts. And Albuquerque Studios, in addition to being a multipurpose studio, also has a huge amount of land around it where we could build sets.”

With the echo of a once-powerful military force living on in the Resistance, the filmmakers turned for guidance and support—not to mention hardware—to the Defense Department at nearby Kirtland Air Force Base. "‘Terminator Salvation' is set in a world that is post-Air Force, post-Army; it's just the Resistance,” offers producer Jeffrey Silver. "But we figured the Resistance would model itself after the discipline of the armed forces today, so we went to Chuck Davis, who is the coordinator of the Department of Defense in Los Angeles and its motion picture liaison. He introduced us to the Air Force and they just opened the doors to us. We got all the hardware we needed; we were able to shoot on Air Force property. We had just fantastic cooperation because they recognized that in the future portrayed in this film, the military will still be the men and women who protect us, no matter what may come.”

The production utilized aircraft and weaponry to reflect the kinds of supplies to which humans could conceivably gain access within the context of the story. "The resistance does have some hardware, so it's not just sticks and stones against the machines,” says McG. "They've got A-10 planes, and some older mechanized machines that they use to fight back.”

A key military jet that figures into the story is the A-10 Thunderbolt Two (also known as the Mighty Warthog, the Flying Gun, and the Tankbuster). Flown by Blair Williams,<


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