CMU School of Drama

Monday, September 19, 2016

30 Years After 'Aliens,' James Cameron Looks Back on the Power Loader

The Creators Project: Though it's perhaps the most iconic single prop in the entire Alien franchise, the power loader Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) uses to fend off the xenomorph queen in Aliens (1986) was a real pain to make. A new featurette, premiering today on The Creators Project, reveals that, while Rome wasn't built in a day, the very first model for this "far future forklift," actually was.


jcmertz said...

This is awesome. One of my favorite parts about watching the videos on how Stan Winston used to build effects is his mockups. The other character in this fight, the Alien Queen, was initially a mockup of the design made primarily from black garbage bags and duct tape. The other thing that I think is really powerful about this is that the foam core one is an awesome design in of itself, made cheaply. What this means is that amateur film makers, low budget theater makers, and all other kinds of low budget artists can make acceptable versions of the real thing for cheap. Is it perfect? No. But it sells the idea and is accessible to a much wider array of artisans.

Lia Jennings said...

I am always to fascinated on how things are made, especially in the time when cgi was not in effect and people were having to do all their special effects by hand. I have never seen the movie aliens and watching this clip has made me want to watch it now to see this machine they made but it makes me proud to be a part of this industry that works hard at their art and does whatever they can to make their visions come to life. They took a day to prove to the specialists that this is possible and that just shows their dedication. I wonder if they kept the foam frame of what they wanted because that would be great to see in person and to be in the presence of all that brainpower at once. I would like to see more clips like this talking about how people in the past have figured out problems that people today never have to think about.

Alexa James-Cardenas ( said...

Videos and articles like this make me excited for my education here at Carnegie Mellon. It’s only been about 4 weeks into 5 weeks, and I feel like I’m preparing so much for the intensity that is the Entertainment/Theatre industry. I could only image the stress, yet consuming excitement the prop team from England must have been feeling when they were told to make a machine, a fricking machine, out of foam core. Something like that almost seems impossible, but they not only did it, it became an iconic image for fans to reference and try to recreate!
Nothing, absolutely nothing is out of one’s reach. With creativity of construction, all those ideas you have in your head that probably occupy way too much of your brain than it should and is your default thing to image when you are bored or just day dreaming is possible to create. And this robot/forklift is a testament to that. It will take effort, and confidence, because there are many times were you feel because of materials and time and money that a dream or project seems inefficient and highly improbable. It takes a while that realize that there are others who are interested, even though it doesn’t feel like it most of the time. Sometimes it just takes being trapped in a room with materials and glue to piece everything together.

Chris Calder said...

I think the most fascinating thing about the design is how much it is influenced by something that already exists. As artist had a vision or an idea that they wanted to bring to life but it is so hard to not have it resemble something that already exists, even if you do it subconsciously it still happens and it is something that you should just embarrass. For this particular design I like how it conforms to the body and has such human like qualities while still having the qualities of a machine. When I was watching the video I couldn’t help but ask myself if something like this could actually exist. It wasn’t until they started talking about the foam mock up that I really began to see this existing my everyday life. Overall I think this article was very interesting and even when something that happened 30 years ago is still considered relevant and interesting to people