The Making of Aliens (1986)
There is some really awesome miniatures work in this documentary. This is way better than most “behind the scenes” videos that are really just commercials for the movie.
Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by Gale Anne Hurd and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, and Bill Paxton. It is the sequel to the 1979 film Alien and the second installment in the Alien franchise. The film follows Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley as she returns to the moon where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of space marines.
Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill of Brandywine Productions, who produced the first film and its later sequels, served as executive producers on Aliens. They were interested in a follow-up to Alien as soon as its 1979 release, but the new management at 20th Century Fox postponed those plans until 1983. Brandywine picked Cameron to write after reading his script for The Terminator; when that film became a hit in 1984, Fox greenlit Aliens with Cameron as director and a budget of approximately $18 million. It was filmed in England at Pinewood Studios and at a decommissioned power plant in Acton, London.
Aliens was released on July 18, 1986 and grossed $180 million worldwide. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver, winning both Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects. It won eight Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress for Weaver, Best Supporting Actor for Paxton, Best Supporting Actress for Goldstein, and Best Direction and Best Writing for Cameron), and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Empire magazine voted it the ‘Greatest Film Sequel Of All Time’. Aliens was the seventh highest-grossing film of 1986 in North America.
A sequel, Alien 3, was released in May 22, 1992, with Weaver’s reprising her role as Ellen Ripley and Henriksen as Bishop in the film.
Brothers Robert and Dennis Skotak were hired to supervise the visual effects, having previously worked with Cameron on several Roger Corman movies. Two stages were used to construct the colony on LV-426, using miniature models that were on average six feet tall and three feet wide. Filming the miniatures was difficult because of the weather; the wind would blow over the props; however, it proved helpful to give the effect of weather on the planet. Cameron used these miniatures and several effects to make scenes look larger than they really were, including rear projection, mirrors, beam splitters, camera splits and foreground miniatures. Due to budget limits, Cameron said he had to pay for the robotic arm used to cut into Ripley’s shuttle in the opening scene.Practical effects supervisor John Richardson (who won a special effects Oscar for his part in the film) declared his biggest challenge was creating the forklift power loader exoskeletons, which required only three months of work and had Cameron complaining about visual details during construction. The model could not stand on its own, requiring either wires dangling from the shoulders or a pole through the back attached to a crane. While Sigourney Weaver was inside the power loader model, a stunt man standing behind it would move the arms and legs.
The alien suits were made more flexible and durable than the ones used in Alien to expand on the creatures’ movements and allow them to crawl and jump. Dancers, gymnasts, and stunt men were hired to portray the aliens. Various 8 feet (2.4 m) tall mannequins also were created to make aliens that stood in inhuman poses, and could have their bodies exploded to simulate gunshot wounds. Stan Winston’s team created fully articulated facehuggers that could move their fingers; these were moved by wires hidden on the scenery or the actors’ clothing. The one that walked towards Ripley had a mechanism akin to a pull toy, with pulleys that moved the fingers, and its jump combined three models shot separately: the walking facehugger, a stationary model dangling on a table leg, and another model being pulled towards the camera.
According to production staff, scenes involving the alien queen were the most difficult to film. A life-sized mock-up was created by Stan Winston‘s company in the United States to see how it would operate. Once the testing was complete, the crew working on the queen flew to England and began work creating the final version. Standing at 14 feet (4.3 m) tall, it was operated using a mixture of puppeteers, control rods, hydraulics, cables, and a crane above to support it. Two puppeteers were inside the suit operating its arms, and 16 were required to move it. All sequences involving the full size queen were filmed in-camera with no post-production manipulation. Additionally, a miniature alien queen was used for certain shots.
Bill Paxton, May 17, 1955 to February 25, 2017
After Bill Paxton‘s unexpected death, the cause of his passing has been revealed.
While a representative of Paxton’s family confirmed that the Big Love star died on Feb. 25 following “complications from surgery,” according to the 61-year-old’s death certificate obtained by E! News, he suffered a stroke stemming from surgery a week earlier.
On Feb. 14, Paxton underwent a valve replacement and aortic aneurysm repair. According to the certificate, the actor later experienced an aortic aneurysm that lead to his deadly stroke. The husband and father died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.