Who is the real brain behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? It’s not Michael Bay, but a company that goes by the name of ILM (Industrial Light and Magic). One of the biggest, baddest, special effects companies around. They are the technological brains behind Harry Potter, Speed Racer, Iron Man, (obviously) Transformers, and many more special effects masterpieces.
At the press conference, Scott Farrar from ILM talked about what it took to create the special effects for the film. Check out what he had to say below…
What makes this bigger and better than the first?
I think the main beats for us were, there were about 40-odd plus new characters and part of the film was going to be in Imax which means higher resolution, bigger movie, more render space on our farm to do the shots, higher complexity on every level. I’ve been telling folks that the simulation of Devastator on top of the pyramid with all the blocks being thrown down is the largest simulation we’ve ever done at our company. We’re trying to hit new levels of realism in every single thing we do, whether it’s the render of the robot or the physical environment that they’re reacting with. So it’s just like upping the game on every level, so it was a pretty complicated show.
We heard that a computer exploded while making the film?
We did, we lost some machinery. Little puffs of smoke just like in the movie.
How do the moving parts work?
The number of parts used is up in the 1000s. What I want you to know is every shot is dressed to camera, so we have a lot of moving parts and a lot of pieces that are all finished up but every single time that we set up a new camera position, the cameras swirls around to the back and doggone it, there are some pieces that are unfinished, we have to repaint them and get them so they can be animated. A couple of things, Optimus Prime was made out of 10,000 people. Devastator is about eight times that. They only move if we need them to move, so it’s a logarithmic jump to try and get all those pieces to move and it’s all up to the animators, frankly, to lay down the movement first. We tried to free it up to be creative.
If you slowed it down, could you tell what parts go where?
Yeah, you can. You maybe would see, if the camera were on the back side, there might be some things that are flying around a little bit, a little bit more free-form but essentially the movement is correct. All this has to be sort of bought off also by the Hasbro people because we want to have the essential shape of the transformation fit to what the toy will do.
What was it like taking the robots underwater?
We were on land and sea and air in this film. Every environment is a challenge. Underwater, well, it gets a little bit into the software stuff. We had a person come up with an underwater look. It’s an underwater plug-in. What that means is it’s all about light. Everything that we do in our world is all about the light. It’s not just building the robot, but it’s about how it commingles with all the light sources. It might be ambient. If they’re really deep in the water, how much light do we give them? How much internal lighting should they have? It’s all those questions that are very artsy, and then you just keep working on it, working on it. We had a lot of deep sea underwater research photos that we looked at and we sort of gleaned from that, how clear do we want to be? How much plankton and “spinacci” we called it, floating in front of the camera do we want? All these little tricks to try and make you believe you’re really underwater, we have to employ. It was challenging.
Pretty cool huh? Check out his work in action starting June 24th.