T H E    E N D O S K E L E T O N

T2 endoskeletons with their inventor and designer, James Cameron

The Terminator T-800 endoskeleton first appeared in James Cameron's fever dream while he was in Rome. Broke, sick and under extreme stress, Jim Cameron had a nightmare about a metallic skeleton rising from fire. "The original inspiration for the film was the image of the terminator coming out of the fire. A humanoid robot who, up to that point, you've thought was a man, emerges from this conflagration completely denuded of flesh. That was the image (James Cameron SciFi Movieland 1985). "I had this image of him being covered in flesh and having it burn off, and coming phoenix like out of fire (James Cameron, Film Comment magazine 21,1985). Immediately after waking up, Cameron sketched the terminator character on a blank sheet of paper, which he later elaborated into a painting.

The very first sketch of the Terminator by James Cameron, showcased for the first time in 2010 on the Oprah

Jim Cameron's painting based on his first sketch. Note that most of the final endoskeleton design and pieces are already there

Below on the left, an early painting by James Cameron, next to the image from the movie. On that painting, the endoskeleton design is virtually identical to the final version. This is one of the paintings that Cameron brought to Stan Winston. "Jim is an artist. He came to me and had the script, but more importantly he had the drawings of what he wanted things to look like". (Stan Winston Starlog 88, 1984). "I remember Stan and Jim going off to an auto part graveyards and took photographs of interesting pieces of machinery for reference" (Shane Mahan, Winston Effect). Still, Cameron was open to suggestions and wanted to see some choices, so he encouraged WInston and his team to come up with their own ideas. "Jim wanted to see some other variations. He's a brilliant artist but he wanted choices. So we went through some variations, some sculptures of different possibilities of the look of the endoskeleton and we ended up going right back to the initial concept of Jim he had in the painting he did." (Stan Winston)

Shane Mahan, Brian Wade and Tom Woodruff all took their shots in designing an endoskeleton skull, but none of those ideas really worked.

While some pieces from Mahan's were incorporated (mainly eyesockets and nose) into an endoskull design Cameron sketched , everything was eventually settled on Jim's initial design (seen below James Cameron's endoskull drawing and the final puppet).

Cameron himself sketched out every detail of the endoskeleton - "By the time all was set and done Jim had detailed and sketched every detail of the endoskeleton and thank God for him" (Stan Winston). Below, some of Cameron's detailed sketches of the endoskeleton design

Here is Jim Cameron's initial sketch for the endoskeleton (left) and his first take on the endoskull (right)



Shots of the endoskeleton from T2 teaser trailer directed by Stan Winston. Because the trailer was shot before the actual production and props were being made for T2, the teaser uses the endoskeleton puppet from the first film

Below, an endoskeleton in all its glory from a T2 promotional shoot. There have been no design changes whatsoever to the endoskeleton, except for the hands

The T2 endoskeletons were created from the mold of the original, there was one design upgrade however, and those were the arms. The hands got more details, became more intricate. Take a closer look at the knuckles for example - bulky bulbs in the original (left), gone in the sequel, replaced with more intricate looking mechanical design (right)


To see all the redesigns and changes made in the endoskeleton design in post-Cameron sequels head on to http://downfallofterminator.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-design-changes-on-endoskeleton.html