Question: Does this have a feeling of closure, this chapter?
Michael: I think so. But it still can be rebooted. Not with Shia. He’s turning grumpy in his old age.
Question: Out of curiosity, shooting in 3D, what did it make you rethink about axis in motion and progression…
Michael: A lot. I mean you’ve got to watch the panning because it strobes too much. You’ve got a guy on the set who’s got a control where when the camera goes like this, he can turn the 3D almost off. He sits there and it’s like if the robot comes close, we tell him what’s going on in the shot and he can kinda try to do where you want the eye to kind of look. But I can’t always check over him because there’s a lot going on on the set. So anyway, that was my process for doing it. I was able to shot about 60% native 3D, and then you’ve got 15% of all digital shots that were 3D, and then the rest is converted close-up stuff.
Question: I was going to say it kind of reinvigorates the franchise, because you’re talking about that kind of loss of a spectacle. So what do you bring A-game wise in terms of what we’ve never seen before?
Michael: Well, I’ve got a lot of scenes you’ve never seen before. There’s a lot of action stuff that I’ve never done before that’s pretty cool. It’s like some agent said, “Bay’s a competitor.” And what he meant by that is a lot of people on the third one will just check out and just get a paycheck. It’s like I’ve been working every day for two years, every single day, because I want to make up for the second one and I want to leave this franchise as best I can. I’ve had a great run, fun time doing it. So really, it was a fun shoot. It really was.
Question: You spent eight months working on this script with Ehren. What do you feel you were able to do on this movie that you couldn’t do on the first one? You’ve said the robots have more character.
Michael: They do. And it’s much more of a back story. This is a very involved robot story.
Question: The twins were kind of divisive characters. Even if you liked the movie you maybe didn’t like them so much because they were goofy.
Michael: Yeah, we got rid of that. There’s two small characters in the entire movie. They start out a bit goofy but they have a huge comeback. And they’re fun.
Question: New characters?
Michael: One is new, named Brains.
Question: Do you kill the twins?
Michael: They’re not even in it. Not even in it.
Question: What about staging the city battle in this and how that’s your big third act. City mayhem seems to be something that filmmakers are typically afraid of. I have a friend who’s fond of pointing out that every Marvel movie ends in a Vancouver forest because they don’t want to…
Michael: It’s very expensive. It’s hard to navigate. Cities don’t want you there. The whole problem with the first movie is I wanted to shoot here in Los Angeles to work with my crew, because they were going to send me to Toronto. And you couldn’t get a long enough city block. We were able to get three blocks two weekends. I mean this city keeps kicking us out. It’s terrible. So I had to use Universal back lot. I had to use a little of downtown till we got kicked out. But Chicago, we worked the city…I don’t know what we did. We didn’t give bribes, nothing. But I met with the mayor and his general council and I became very friendly with them. And he gave us like anything we wanted. I mean we shut down…our first day there we had 12 blocks. 12 blocks! That’s crazy! And we did one of the craziest things I’ve ever filmed, which is these wing-suit guys. You know those guys on 60 Minutes? You see those guys on the cliffs? I’m like, “I’m writing a scene for those guys.” We have this great scene where they fly between the buildings. We had to block off a mile and a half, and they made turns around buildings, very close. But the city allowing us to do that. Jumping off the Sears Tower flying through the streets. I mean that stuff’s like unheard of.
Question: Just the general shape and tone. But in terms of like what people are doing, what they’re wearing, what happens…
Michael: There’s a scene where she’s kidnapped and they go to Chicago, which they find at morning it’s been obliterated and surrounded by alien ships, and they’re kind of…he’s taking a small little group in to try to get her back. Then there’s the group of guys trying to come in and join some of our heroes on the ground. They’re kind of doing a conversion…they’re trying to sneak in low. They try to put some air power over here to distract the ships. There’s a scene where they’ve got some new robot tech…there’s like a cute character in the movie, a transformer, an autobot, and he’s invented this device, alien in nature, he’s given it to Shia. He gives him two things, like a stick bomb and this kind of grapple glove thing. And then we go to…there’s a section in a building where they’ve gone in and broken… a lot of buildings have been broken and shot up. A tiny bit of that. Then we go to a 3D reel.
Question: You’ve said that the first movie was about a boy and his dog and a boy and his first car…
Michael: The heart of this one is it’s kids nowadays, they want to matter. It’s about getting a job—one of the most daunting things in all our lives. And I had to explain this to Shia because he had a job as a boy. I said, “Shia, this is one of the biggest seminal moments in life where you go to either college or high school, whatever, and you’re getting a job.” We all remember that. It’s about Shia wanting to matter. So it’s a small group of people. That’s the heart and soul.
Question: His parents are such a big audience pleaser. Even the audience I set in on with Transformers 2, they loved the parents. How much are they involved in this plot this time?
Michael: They’re not in the end at all. They’re just to set up a bit. And they kinda tail out right towards the middle.
Question: How much time do you spend with the FX team working on making the transformations look good and not just cheating them through speed? Is that something you ramp up through film?
Michael: We just had this conversation yesterday. “This is not good enough. This is not complex enough. It’s too simplistic.” So they had to go back to the drawing board and break it apart more. Because it’s very crazy math to do this. It’s really complicated. We’ve got someone there who just defies your eye of how you’re working…And a lot of it’s not cheating. Some of it is. It’s a whole math game. A whole fun part of working on this movie is working with the animation team. Really, it’s one of the joys of the movie.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Michael Bay Press Preview Transcript
/Film has posted the entire 7200 word transcript form the interviews that Michael Bay participated in when he screened portions of the film for the entertainment press. He briefly spoke of Frank Welker so can call that official confirmation he returns as Soundwave and mentioned a new character called "Brains" that could be the Einstein character (with Mercedes-Benz E550 alt mode). Bay goes into a great level of detail about the complications of shooting in 3D, experience of filming in Chicago, working with actors, film editing, sound design and more. Below are segments from the transcript but if want to read the whole thing, click here. Thanks to Winston for the link.