We preview Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series

Cos Lazouras, president of Halcyon Games, the producers of the Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series, told SCI FI Wire that the finale of the six-part series will feature the best action yet. The Machinima Series uses the engine of the Terminator Salvation video game to animate a new story about Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) two years before the events of the film.

"The stakes are raised with each episode, and I think as you can see, the cliffhangers are getting more and more dramatic," Lazouras said in an exclusive phone interview on Wednesday. "Without giving anything away, you're going to see some much more dramatic action sequences, and in one part something that happened in her recent past that also affects the current story and a surprising take on who the Laz character is and how important he is."

In The Machinima Series, Williams meets Laz, a hacker who has found a way to hack the machines and hunter-killers of the future war. On the run from Skynet forces, Williams and Laz end each episode in a dangerous situation from which they must escape the following week.

James Middleton, associate producer of the Termminator Salvation film, joined Lazouras on the call. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of the interview. Terminator: The Machinima Series is available for purchase on iTunes. More information and previews of episodes are available at Machinima.com.

Do any of the action scenes come from ideas that didn't make it into the movie?

Lazouras: Everything you see in Machinima, a big part of it is inspired by scenes that we either had or wanted to get into the game, which were in turn inspired by things that they were talking about on the film. With anything that's been created in multiple media simultaneously, one medium is bouncing off the other.

The quick answer is there are scenes that you'll see in the Machinima that we really wanted to get into the game but couldn't. There's a scene in episode five that you're going to see which was cut from the game at the last minute. It was, for me, a really important story point that spoke about the underlying idea of the Resistance in the future and what they were battling for on a daily basis. Not just 24 hours more of survival, but the importance of humanity and the difference between humans and machines and why it was so important to keep your humanity. We ended up having to drop it from the game, but I'm really, really happy that we got it into the Machinima series in a different incarnation.

But it must be nice to think of a Terminator subway chase and get to do it.

Lazouras: Yeah, sure, but here's the thing with Machinima. If we didn't have a subway in the game, we could have that idea, and we wouldn't be able to do it. We'd have to build that asset, so that's the difference between this and CG. What we've done, and what Andy Shapiro, the writer on the project, has done really well, is explored the game in detail before embarking on the series and writing to the strengths of what we had.

It's kind of a slightly ass-backwards process. "OK, here's what we have. What's the story we want to tell, and how do we mold this around the base of assets and animations that we have?"

Middleton: We went through a script development process that is very much like we would on a television show or a movie. We'll have these conversations, and then we'll storyboard. Then our director, Tor [Helmstein], will have to go and location-scout within the various maps of the game to find little nooks and crannies within this very rich map to actually record the footage. It's funny to hear people say, "We're going to go location-scouting," and that means to pore over this monitor and look for every little space in the map where a scene could take place.

Is there any hope for the story of Laz to continue? I'm getting worried about him.

Middleton: There's always hope. There's always hope, but there's a lot of firepower exchanged in these last few episodes. One of the things that is happening in terms of our little Machinima production company is that as we go on, we're getting better and better. We looked at Cos' game and what he put together with the game and felt that it was a place where we could tell a new story about Blair, but it hasn't really been done on this scale before. We're getting better and better at putting together action sequences and really getting the most out of the game engine and the maps from the game.

Imagine a room that has multiple monitors and you have maybe six different people with game controllers in their hands, including the director. They're actually executing the script real-time within the video game map. That footage is recorded and almost like live action, in a way, and then handed off to the editor, who cuts it as if it were live-action footage. It's been a fascinating process, and some of the action sequences that we've gotten are just hellacious. They are fantastic.

Are there DVD plans for the Machinima?

Middleton: We'll see. It's likely that it will be on DVD.

Lazouras: It's down to the popularity, and we're really hoping that as wide an audience sees it, because we're very proud of what's been achieved. So, yeah, that state is definitely something we would like it to be on.

Will there be more Blair Williams adventures?

Middleton: It really is a new arena that we're exploring, so we're very curious to see what it all is going to shake out to be, but there's been tremendous interest in what we're doing. The thing that I'm most excited about is not only to do something in Machinima but to tell another story about Blair, who I think is a fantastic new character in the Terminator world. Moon Bloodgood as an actress just absolutely embraced this character and has been totally enthusiastic about it and really fun to work with. She has just got a great energy and a great take on this character.

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