X-Men: Days of Future Past—Impact of New Film Technology

In 2000, when “X-Men” was released, the technology to do some of the things the filmmakers had imagined was simply not yet available.

The Sentinels

Fourteen years later, getting realistic yet striking, inventive yet believable effects is no longer a problem.  Take, for example, the Sentinels, 18-foot tall mutant-destroying robots, beloved by X-Men fans, would not have been served justice with older technologies in VFX.  There have been many robot films in the last decade, but what Singer wanted to achieve was not possible until now.  In “Days of Future Past,” Singer introduces two versions of the Sentinels, those of the past and the evolved version of the future.

“The Sentinels are mutant-killing robots, and the program to build them began in the early-1970s,” the director explains.  “They have the ability to target the mutant gene, and then isolate and target mutants.  The Sentinels of the future are an evolution from those developed in the 1970s.  The Future Sentinels are particularly dangerous because they have the biomechanical technology to adapt to the mutants’ powers, take on their appearance, and destroy them.  There are thousands and thousands of them on the hunt.”

Special Effects Supervisor Cameron Waldbauer

While Myhre designed the Sentinels of the future, Special effects supervisor Cameron Waldbauer and his team were the custodians of the Sentinel we see in the scenes set in 1973, built by Legacy Effects in Los Angeles.  The 1970s Sentinel took eight weeks to build and all of its parts are movable and adjustable.  Although there are numerous sentinels both in the past and future, only one of the ‘70s model was built for a few practical reasons besides cost.  The actual eighteen-foot figure helped director of photography Sigel frame the shot and served as an indication of relative proportion for the VFX team who would multiply the robots in post-production.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the biggest X-Men film to date, a validation of the success of the franchise, but more importantly a culmination of tremendous creative energies from its cast and filmmakers. It is a story that reaches across all boundaries to all audiences.

At last year’s Comic-Con convention when almost the entire cast stood on stage in front of their fans, the roar of applause was deafening.  The emotion was overwhelming. Singer recognizes that kind of emotion.  “If I had been at Comic-Con 25 years ago and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia walked across the stage I would have freaked out, too!” he says.   For Singer, the X-Men stories are “modern day mythologies.  I feel extremely at home with this universe.  I love being in it, exploring it and having a lot of fun with it.”  His ability to articulate these stories as a filmmaker is unparalleled.