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Terminator Salvation

designer: Karin Fong • studio: Imaginary Forces • 11 comments

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After designing the animated title sequences for The Pink Panther 2, Karin Fong and her creative team at Imaginary Forces worked on the title sequence of another iconic and successful movie franchise – the fourth installment of the Terminator series.

Karin Fong talks about her title sequence and "machine vision" for Terminator Salvation, and other projects in this interview, which was recorded immediately after the Flux/Forget the Film, Watch the Titles event at The Hammer Museum in L.A., a day before the movie's US premiere.

“The nice thing about working with McG [the director] on Terminator Salvation, which is sort of an origin story for the Terminator series, is that he asked us to develop not only the main titles but the language of "machine vision." "Machine vision", in the Terminator piece, is the point of view of the machines. So, everytime you see something through a machine's eyes, it's treated in that way. Back in the original Terminator these [images] would be tinted red and have a grid and have maybe some DOS language. We had to update that using technical references of today's machines and technology.”

“One thing that really fascinated us was using depth camera's. There's actually one on the Mars' Rover. They basically measure depth and distance from the camera. You can take that data and turn it into a point cloud and start to make images with that. One thing that's really interesting about that is that you get these natural artifacts. The images are not perfect. You can program it and script it so you can get 3D images, but they kind of fall out in certain places in a way that's really hard to do when you're hand-animating. We didn't actually shoot with the depth camera's for the film as we originally had planned, but used it as a reference for how the machines would be taking in images.”

RV: The same technology they used for Radiohead's "House of Cards" video?
Karin Fong: “The one we used was a little bit more primitive. This one was basically a stereo camera. We just used it as research to see the kind of imperfections, the textures and point clouds that would result from it. And then we'd apply that, to stylize how the machines would see.”

“And for the Terminator main title, I mean, it's always a challenge with a well-known mythology and a well-known movie to tap into people's familiarity with the story and turn it into something new - re-invent it in a way. McG always knew he wanted to reference the huge monolythic letters that were the titles of the first Terminator movie. You know, that's a very classic main title sequence with huge letters that cross over. Designer/animator Charles Khoury - one of my collegues at Imaginary Forces - and I took that idea, and we were able to develop textures that referenced something that's both very concrete and gritty - like the metallic textures - and virtual aswell because McG's post-apocalyptic world is this combination of something run-down and worn with extremely advanced technology."

Software used: Cinema 4d, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

The typeface used for the main credits is FF OCR-F, “designed for FontShop International in 1995 by Albert-Jan Pool, based on the monospace sans serif OCR-B typeface (1968) by Adrian Frutiger.” * ParaTypeShop.
Thanks Leigh Hibell for the info about the font.

© 2009, Last update: 19 January, 2011

Year of production


Title designer

more about Karin Fong

About Karin Fong

Karin Fong

Karin Fong is a director and designer based in New York City. A native Californian, Fong  studied Art at Yale, with a concentration in Graphic Design. After successfully creating an animated alphabet book for her senior project, she began her career as an animator on the WGBH television program 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' From that point forward, Karin was hooked on creating work that combines live action, design, and animation.

more about Karin Fong

Full credits

Main titles and “Machine Vision”
Imaginary Forces
Title designer
Karin Fong, Charles Khoury
Lead designer/animator machine vision & titles
Jeremy Cox
Production Company (film)
Warner Bros. Pictures, The Halcyon Company
Director (film)

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Comments (11):

12 Jun 09 • by: ChrisCross
Very nice intro. Subtle, gritty and detailed. Two thumbs up.
Although this has nothing to do with the visual, but something I noticed right away when I watched it in the cinema, is the music. Why on earth would one take the theme from The Chronicles of Riddick (and some elements from Batman Begins) and try to make it "your" own? The Terminator series has a wonderful and memorable signature theme that does not need to be re-invented. It need to be preserved! Or am I wrong? My two cents anywho...

14 Jun 09 • by: Vik
I simply love the title sequence, its amazing. The first time I watched the movie I immediately noticed the same style Terminator Salvation followed the title sequences of The Terminator. I was blown away!!
And the music is amazing and totaly uplifting and reallllllly suplements the movie theme of survival of humans against the machines in a post-apocalyptic future.
I have so far watched the movie 3 times in the movies.
I just never get tired of listening to the music. Thank the Matrix I found this website so I can listen to the title sequences again as the Movie OST has a longer and different version of the soundtrack.
It would have been cooler if they added this to the Terminator Salvation OST!!

16 Jun 09 • by: vfx
Nice work.. loved the dot hologram style logos.
Kinda thought it was odd though that the title popped up in simple white writing right in the middle of the sequence and then again in its more detailed form at the end of the sequence.

18 Jun 09 • by: Boone
After being robbed of a flashy title sequence for T3:Rise of the machines, Salvation's title sequence was a welcome return to form.
Character setup/rigging and programmer.

22 Jun 09 • by: OLD-BOY
looks similar to the first terminator titles but no where near as good. But i think the music is the biggest problem

22 Jun 09 • by: badoli
Yea, i second that... the music is too average for a terminator. As the titles lean towards the first one, it's even more obvious how much the machinery inspired soundtrack made the whole first one shine. It's surely good titles, but it falls short in comparison to some of it's predecessors... I doubt the titles studio could choose the music...?

19 Jul 09 • by: Darren
I like this title sequence a lot, but just 2 nitpicky points:

- I wouldn't of shown the movie's title in that simple white font early on. Just keep the cast credits going until the movie title's reveal at the end.

- The "A"s in the TERMINATOR SALVATION classic font at the end should have been slanted to the left like the previous movies! You used the classic font type, so why wern't they slanted to maintain consistency?

20 Jan 10 • by: adam
Director McG proves perfectly adept at blowing things up in interesting ways, but there's not so much acting here as there is yelling at different volumes.

Edit by admin: removed link to commercial website.

19 Jan 11 • by: nownet
The Terminator 1 simply the best, it's a petty, this is not on the site!

19 Jan 11 • by: nownet

19 Jan 11 • by: Remco
In the 1980's there weren't that many interesting title sequences. But Termintor from 1984 is definitely a classic. We should feature it some day. We did use a clip of the original title sequence in the interview with designer Karin Fong: