Seibertron.com has posted an interview with Will Kenefick of RetroSBK, the creator of the custom bikes used for Arcee in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. For the sake of the toys, the individual bikes are named Arcee (Ducati 848), Chromia (Suzuki B-King) and Flareup (MV Augusta F4). Below are segments, the full interview can be found here.
Skowl: How and when were you approached about working on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?
RetroSBK: Early in 2008, with a phone call. I spent the first five minutes of the call trying to figure out who was pulling my leg. They had seen my work in a magazine.
Skowl: How much did you know about Transformers beforehand?
RetroSBK: I grew up playing with the Transformers toys and watching the cartoons. Loved them when I was a kid, but when I discovered girls and cars and motorbikes, I think all that went out the window. I hadn’t even seen the first movie, after having been so disappointed with some of the other adaptations from my youth. Needless to say, I watched it, and loved it, the day after my first meeting with Dreamworks.
Skowl: Does your company have any forthcoming marketing tie-ins that relate to the Transformers film?
RetroSBK: Dreamworks and Michael Bay are extremely protective about the characters in the movie, and rightfully so. We don’t have any direct tie ins with the movie, however they have been very accommodating with any requests we have had. All in all this is a VERY enthusiastic group of people, and they take the TF2 brand very seriously.
Skowl: What information, if any, were you given about the bike characters before you started working on them? Rumour is the bike characters were meant to combine but it was cut from the film, were you told about that?
RetroSBK: I was given pretty much the low down on the bikes and the big plan for them. I cant comment on any rumors about the bikes or what they may or may not do.
Skowl: We know you and your team worked long hours to get the bikes finished on time. How difficult was this project compared to your usual work?
RetroSBK: These bikes are more of a styling exercise, where the normal bikes we build are much more performance oriented. Our last bike was built in 4 weeks for my television series, taking more than 400 man hours to complete. The unique thing for me was these really were the first bikes with such unreal paint, and so much graphic detail. Our painter, Chris Wood, from AirTrix came up with new techniques just to do these bikes.
Skowl: What was your level of involvement in the process? Were you given creative liberties with the look of the motorcycles, or was it strictly a "build this for us" thing?
RetroSBK: We weren’t given any, but we still took some. Having our painter, who is the best in the world, we were able to do things that the guys who work in CGI full time couldn’t believe were possible. Usually the CG is far beyond the ability of the real world, but not in this case.
We did work on other scenes in the movie, supplying many of the bikes in the “Mikes Custom Cycles” scene with Meagan Fox painting the bike. That was another scene where we brought in our painter, Chris Wood, to consult, and he worked the entire day teaching her how to airbrush and setting up the shot. Funny part is that in the “goofs” sections on the IMDB website, it says that the airbrush is being held sideways and wouldn’t work, but it’s a very special airbrush that Chris actually uses, and works on its side, just as he showed her to use.
There were other things we had our hand in as well, and it was a great time, and a great way to express ourselves.
Skowl: We've seen plenty of the other new Transformers vehicles (Trax, Beat, Volt, Stingray concept) in car shows and photo ops leading up the film's release - but we never saw the bikes anywhere, why is that?
RetroSBK: We worked VERY hard to keep it that way. The ONLY thing that wasn’t leaked in the movie, the ONLY real surprise was Arcee. It was great! In that part of it, reading the forums, and the speculation about the bikes and some of the plot lines about them was awesome, I loved it. The best part was the huge amount of mis-information that was out there about the bikes. Honestly, they generated such an enormous amount of press pre-release that it made it really hard to hide.
Skowl: Speaking of pushing the bikes to the limit, we heard about one of the motorcycles crashing while filming in Bethlehem, PA - what happened?
RetroSBK: It was just a simple low speed miscue. No one was hurt, but maybe a bit shaken up. Part of riding is falling down sometimes, and the rider wasn’t quite prepared. Quite a bit of damage was done to the bike, but it was quickly fixed, and we had a backup bike as well. We actually have the crash damaged pieces of the bike, and will be auctioning them off for charity and other fund raisers over the next few months. A good chance to own a bit of the REAL movie and help some great causes, like the Pediatric Brain Tumor foundation.