One of the real joys of the film is the realistic and thoughtful design process that the props and vehicles went thru, and perhaps one of the best examples of this is the robots.
Originally as we discussed in part 2 of this series the “Elysium” film was going to be made on a smaller budget using humans in costumes to portray the robot guards and sentry’s. Here is an early example of this.
which later on became this:
before becoming the final version that was used in the film:
But, even then this version was subtley tweaked when the original puppet versions, and static robots used in the Armadyne factory had to be changed when the design was altered again after the footage had been shot. This meant CGI changes were overlaid over the top of the original filmed robots.
A good example of this is the gold robot that Max attacks in the desert. Originally the robot was one of the 19 made for production by Weta of New Zealand and had arms that could be removed, along with a specially made head that turned 90 degrees and then pulled away with fake sparking cables, oil pouring from leads and other physical effects built into it like working fans that spun. Of the other 18 robots, 10 were background robots, 7 were hero for Max to work on in the factory with removable chestplates etc, and one was a “Homeland” variant in red.
The gold version see with its head being removed by Matt Damon was made in New Zealand, transported to Mexico and then altered with CGI in Vancouver.
One of the main things to look for is the shoulder graphics and slightly different head design. The orange cross made of tape on the arm socket was for CGI placement of the arms. This variant also had a metal backplate that was designed to bear the stress of being laid on the back of the pickup truck for the sequence.
The robots were made using cad files and the parts 3d printed and molded. The entire list of parts came to over 700 and they simply snapped together or bolted like a giant lego set. These are the 7 hero factory models produced.
Watch more of various sequences from the film here.