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Recently, the Hollywood Reporter hosted chat with Michael Bay and James Cameron. Below is the cover of the this week’s issue along with a link to the entire article.
Transformers 3 has been moved up for release on Wednesday, June 29th instead of the original July 1st date. With the exception of China (July 8th) and Japan (July 29th) the rest of the world will have the film in theaters by July 1st.
Michael Bay and James Cameron have a lot in common — they both blow up shiny things with a particular élan, wrangle their massive film crews military-style and earn studios the kind of money that makes a guy walk with a swagger. But, as evidenced by a talk the two action directors gave Wednesday night on the Paramount Pictures studio lot, they’re not entirely on the same page on the subject of 3-D.
Bay screened about 15 minutes of footage from this summer’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” much of which he shot using the Fusion 3D camera system Cameron designed for “Avatar.” In a technical and sometimes contentious conversation about shutter speeds, rigs and lenses that will probably be very informative for the half-dozen people about to direct a $200-million-plus movie in the next year, Bay and Cameron debated the virtues and faults of the format. But for anyone without a blockbuster on their to-do list, the real entertainment was seeing the dynamic between Hollywood’s biggest alpha males.
After Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore introduced the men responsible for the two highest-grossing movies in the studio’s history, “Titanic ” ($600 million domestic box office) and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” ($402 million domestic box office), Bay explained how he and Cameron met, when Bay visited the “Titanic” set in Mexico in the mid-1990s.
“He said, ‘We’re a lot alike,’” Bay recalled. “I said, ‘No, you’re just meaner, Jim.’” More than a decade later, Cameron invited Bay to the “Avatar” set to see his 3-D cameras in action. At the time, Bay was dubious about the format and bewildered by the nitty-gritty of “Avatar’s” visual effects. “Jim says to me, ‘God, Weta [Digital] has some great algorithms. I thought, ‘What the [heck] are we talking about?’”
Jay Fernandez of “The Hollywood Reporter,” which was hosting the event, played a clip of Bay at the movie-industry convention ShoWest in 2009, warning exhibitors that 3-D “might be a gimmick.” Enter action films’ elder statesman, Cameron, persuading Bay to give the nascent technology a shot.
In the final throes of completing his first 3-D film, Bay seemed to be suffering from a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, complaining about the difficulty of using 3-D cameras while shooting in the real-world environment of downtown Chicago. “It’s a brand new beast,” he told Cameron. “You were basically on a stage [on 'Avatar'].”
“You made the decision very close to the start of principal [photography],” Cameron said, defending the format. When Bay raised technical questions that had bedeviled his crew, Cameron nodded. “We can do that now, but literally just now.”
Bay estimated that the format had added $30 million to the cost of his film, to which Cameron countered, “The question is, how much more are you gonna make with a film in 3-D?”
The “Transformers” scenes Bay showed included the first five minutes of the movie, which melds archival footage of presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon and the Apollo 11 mission with 3-D shots of huge Cybertronian technology on the moon. The footage reveals the plot of “Dark of the Moon” — that the motivation for the space race was, well, more than meets the eye. A montage of action sequences included a scene of men diving out of planes among Chicago skyscrapers with 3-D cameras strapped to their helmets, a sequence Bay said had occurred to him after watching a base-jumping team on “60 Minutes.”
The footage prompted a discussion of where the directors get their ideas for action sequences, one of the rare moments of agreement during the night. Everywhere, was the answer. “When I’m writing an action scene, I crank up the music so loud I can barely think,” Cameron said. Bay confessed ideas often came to him, “while doing crunches.”
– Rebecca Keegan
Michael Bay — whose action style is known to include fast cuts and kinetic cinematography — admits his passion for the anamorphic format and Panavision film cameras.
But Bay stated that he is now also “in love with 3D,” during a conversation with James Cameron on Wednesday at a packed event at the Paramount lot, co-hosted by the studio and The Hollywood Reporter.
Urged by the Avatar helmer, Bay decided to make Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D. Most of the film was shot using Cameron-Pace Group’s 3D Fusion camera rigs, and the director also worked with Avatar crew members.
“It was fun; it was like a new toy,” Bay said, though he also acknowledged, “it is not easy shooting 3D.”
In the configuration used on Transformers — the Fusion rig with Sony F35 cameras — each rig weighed roughly 28 pounds and was put through it paces on location with Bay.
While known for his ambitious action sequences, Bay admitted that when it came to the use of 3D, “I love the intimate shots,” citing as an example the close-ups of Bumblebee.
Cameron explained that the amount of 3D can be controlled, and so for fast sequences, filmmakers can “dial back” the 3D.
As to the size of the camera system, Cameron related that following Bay’s start of production, lighter-weight cameras have become available — and more are on the way — that will help to reduce the weight of the rigs. “We are working to make the cameras smaller and more robust,” said Cameron, who suggested that 3D production is still in its infancy.
Bay admitted that “good 3D” is expensive and added roughly $30 million to the Transformers budget. Cameron was quick to point out that the studio, however, now stands to make significantly more revenue from the higher 3D ticket prices.
Bay cited areas of added costs, including production equipment, labor, and visual effects, where more work is required. There was also a 2D-to-3D conversion budget to make the film “technically perfect,” as well as for shots that were lensed in film.
“It is a little more warm when you shoot native 3D … you can do beautiful conversion,” Bay commented.
The director however warned against quick conversions and improper use of conversion. “Some are being turned off because it is BS 3D,” he said.
To that point, Cameron added, “3D is getting people back to cinemas, but we are abusing it.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Jay Fernandez moderated the discussion.
Bay to attend ceremony at TRANSFORMERS “BOTCON” Fan Convention in Pasadena, California, on June 4
Pawtucket, R.I. (MAY 18, 2011) — Earlier today on its official TRANSFORMERS Facebook page, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) announced the induction of film industry legends Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg—the director and executive producer of the blockbuster TRANSFORMERS film franchise—into its TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame. The second annual TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame ceremony, which celebrates more than 25 years of “MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE” action, will take place during the 2011 TRANSFORMERS “BOTCON” fan convention in Pasadena, California, and will feature TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON director Michael Bay in person to accept his honor and share some special surprises with the audience.
Founded in 2010 to honor those influential in creating and building the iconic TRANSFORMERS franchise, as well as actual “ROBOTS IN DISGUISE,” the 2011 TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame will induct the two legendary filmmakers who were instrumental in launching the live-action film franchise that brought the TRANSFORMERS brand to more fans than ever before. Bay and Spielberg will join previous honorees Bob Budiansky, Peter Cullen, Yoke Hideaki and Kojin Ohno in the TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame.
For the last sixteen years, Michael Bay has been one of the world’s boldest filmmakers as both director and producer. His films have grossed over $4 billion worldwide. Since his 1995 breakout Bad Boys, Bay has directed a succession of international hits that have redefined the action genre, including The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys 2, The Island, and three Transformers films. The third movie in the franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, will hit theaters July 1; it is Bay’s first live-action film shot in 3D. A graduate of Wesleyan University and Art Center College of Design, Bay began his career as a distinguished commercial and music video director. He has won virtually every major award in the commercial industry, including Cannes’ Golden Lion, the Grand Prix Clio, and the Directors Guild of America’s Commercial Director of the Year award. His “Got Milk?” campaign resides in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Bay is also co-owner of production company Platinum Dunes and owner of Digital Domain, one of the entertainment industry’s premier special effects companies.
One of the industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers, Steven Spielberg has directed some of the top-grossing films of all time, including Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and four Indiana Jones films, including the most recent, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award® winner, earning two Oscars® for Best Director and Best Picture for Schindler’s List, and a third Oscar® for Best Director for Saving Private Ryan. He has been awarded the Academy’s prestigious Thalberg Award. He earned his first Directors Guild Award for The Color Purple and has been nominated by the DGA a record ten times. He has received the Kennedy Center Honor for his body of work. Last year he served as an executive producer on the Academy Award nominated film True Grit, which was directed by the Coen brothers. A principal partner of DreamWorks Studios, he is also the producer of Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, an executive producer on TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, directed by Michael Bay and Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau, all of which will be released this summer.
Hasbro will also induct four more iconic robot characters into the TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame. Heroic AUTOBOTS RATCHET and IRONHIDE, as well as evil DECEPTICON SOUNDWAVE will join 2010’s class of five robots, as chosen by Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERSHall of Fame internal panel of judges. In addition, TRANSFORMERS fans around the world voted on Transformers.com for a fourth robot to receive the 2011 “Fans’ Choice” honor. The winner, from among the nominees GRIMLOCK, SHOCKWAVE, ERECTOR, WASPINATOR and JAZZ, will be revealed for the first time at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at “BOTCON” on June 4, 2011.
First introduced in 1984 by Hasbro and Takara as a toy line, the TRANSFORMERS brand has provided kids with hours of MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE fun with their action figures that convert from robot to vehicles and back again. Legions of boys around the world grew up creating fantastic adventures and battles set on both the planet CYBERTRON and Earth that featured the “good-guy” AUTOBOTS and the “bad-guy” DECEPTICONS. Since then, more than 7500 robots have been introduced in countless animated TV series, comic books and two live-action feature films. A third film, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, will be released on July 1, 2011, as the first 3D film in the franchise.