Exclusive interview with VFX Supervisor Sheldon Stopsack [UK]

Ahead of the UK home entertainment release of TERMINATOR GENISYS, Hi-Def Ninja have been granted an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Sheldon Stopsack.

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Sheldon is the Moving Picture Company VFX Supervisor. He worked under the lead of Production VFX Supervisor Janek Sirrs who tasked MPC with creating the Young Arnold digital character, LAX Work Camp battle, and endoskeletons. Check out Sheldon’s IMDb Bio to see what a fantastic resume he has!

Matt: How did you feel about being asked to work on the new Terminator movie, and did you feel there would be more pressure than normal?

Sheldon: When I first heard about this project and the actual challenge on recreating the young Arnold, admittedly I was slightly frightened, I would say. I thought to myself it was an insane task to take on, but at the same time, when you think about it more, it’s incredibly appealing as it’s a great challenge. So this initial state of being frightened soon changed to a feeling of excitement to be honest.

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Matt: Are you a huge fan of the Terminator films?

Sheldon: I am, yes. I’m part of a generation where these movies played quite a significant role in the culture when I was young and growing up.

Matt: Were you pleased with the outcome? Is there anything you would, if you could go back, change?

Sheldon: I guess there are always a few things that you would do differently as you gain an awful lot of experience and knowledge throughout the process, which kind of makes this whole industry appealing to myself. It’s an ongoing journey, you can never really stop or never call it a day; but to be honest with you, in retrospect, I think we’ve done everything right from the time where we approached it. I don’t think I would change that much, I think we did pretty well with this one.

Matt: With the progression and advances in cinema technology, how much extra work has to be done in order for SFX to blend seamlessly with the shot footage?

Sheldon: Oh, that’s a tricky question! This can vary from shot to shot…a challenge is a challenge. For the particular work we have done and the young Arnold sequence in mind in particular, there’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into it; in fact a tremendous amount of replacement that we do. From recreating the whole environment to placing the character within that, and on top of that start, replacing the voices of the live action performances also. It’s a seamless process, but at the same time, an ongoing development and you often end up replacing more than you think.

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Matt: Do you prefer using CGI over practical FX?

Sheldon: Both of the disciplines have their own right and own entity. I think both of them have things to offer that they can bring to the table, and it’s more of a question whether you utilise them in the right way when it comes to the actual filmmaking process. I wouldn’t categorically say I like CG more than practical or special FX as I think they both have their own strength and weaknesses.

Matt: Can you see there being a time in the movie industry when CGI will take over?

Sheldon: CGI is already a huge factor these days. I don’t necessarily think there will be a takeover as such, as I said previously both aspects have their own value and I think it’s more a question of utilising both in their strengths and using them in the right way. There’s more responsibility in filmmaking, making sure you use everything to the best it can offer and making the best product out of it. I don’t think it will replace it as such, more like finding the harmony between the two.

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Matt: In terms of your previous work, what would you consider to be your finest and favourite work to date?

Sheldon: The biggest challenge I’ve had to face was definitely this project [Terminator Genisys]. Recreating a digital human is often considered the holy grail of computer and digital FX and it’s an ongoing journey within the industry. This was definitely my biggest challenge, that’s for sure, and one of my favourites for sure.

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Matt: Do you enjoy watching your own work on the big screen?

Sheldon: Haha, it usually takes a little bit of time. I usually leave a little bit of time and space before I rush to the cinema to watch it.

Matt: What was the last movie you went to watch at the cinema?

Sheldon: Well I did go and see Termiantor, which I really enjoyed. I am about to go and watch The Martian which I’m looking forward to.

Matt: Just a quick question about TV shows, if you don’t mind: if you could work on a TV show, either past or present, what would it be and why?

Sheldon: TV show? Oh gosh! Past or present? Hmm. You caught me off guard there a little! That’s a tricky one. I liked The Sopranos, I was a huge fan of that.

Matt: And one that we ask everyone: what is your all-time favourite movie and why?

Sheldon: Oh my god… I’m afraid I’ll have to dodge that question. I can never nail it down to just one particular movie! There are too many movies that I enjoy for various reasons, so I think that’s too difficult to answer.

Matt: Sheldon, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

TERMINATOR GENISYS is out on Digital HD now and on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on 2 November. Order your copy from Amazon.co.uk.

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About the author

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER | Matt is a huge movie fan with a big passion for all the 80s cheesy Action movies. Anything Arnold Schwarzenegger related is an instant hit too! Also a UK Blu-ray reviewer for Hi-Def Ninja and UK Editorial Manager.