Transformers Set Visit: Michael Bay

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It just wouldn’t be a Michael Bay without explosions and car crashes and Paramount Pictures’ action-packed flick Transformers holds true to Bay’s signature fast-paced intense sequences. Comingsoon.net/Superhero Hype! had the opportunity to watch the director in action as we hung out on the set in downtown Los Angeles for a day. In between takes, we briefly talked to Bay about what fans can expect from his take on the robots.

CS/SHH!: How are you turning “Transformers” into a Michael Bay movie?
Michael Bay: I don’t know. I don’t know if that makes any sense. It’s got a lot of action but it’s very funny. It’s got heart. I only wanted to do “Transformers” if I could do it realistic. What I’ve seen, what we’ve done with our digital studies, putting it — real world stuff that has lots of effects around that are real effects, that’s how we make it realistic.

CS/SHH!: When did you realize the fanboyness of this movie?
Bay: Of course I knew, of course. When did it hit me? Before I even took on the movie. I knew there’s a huge following for this thing. Steven called me I think a year ago last April. My first thought was no, I’m not interested. Just because I thought okay, how am I going to do a toy movie. And then I realized when I went to Hasbro, okay, start over and go for a realistic alien invasion robot movie on earth. So with that thinking in mind, that’s how I went about it.

CS/SHH!: Are you going more family film or hardcore?
Bay: It’s pretty edgy for a family film but it’s definitely got stuff for families. It’s PG-13 but it’s edgy.

CS/SHH!: How do you introduce the idea of all the ridiculous names?
Bay: I’m not going to tell you but we justify how we do it. We have logic stuff in the script to explain why we say it.

CS/SHH!: Would you come back to this franchise?
Bay: Well, I’m having a great time making it. I really have. It’s gone really smoothly this movie. It’s been a lot of fun. So we’ll see. I’ve done a lot of digital effects before but this is really fun because you’re really animating characters and giving everyone a little different kind of thing going on, just from the way they walk, the way their armor’s scratched or hurt.

CS/SHH!: How do you do that without the voices yet?
Bay: First you write down what are all the character points in your head? That’s a tough thing. With Colin, he’s not an actor actor. He’s a voice actor so when you see his face, he’s got a great voice but I need to hire another actor to do his voice. Does that make sense? He’s going to do the voice and I’m going to have another actor study the video when he does how he’s going to say it. They’re actually having to work in tandem. They do this on animation features as well. We did a very funny study where we did De Niro and Hugo Weaving, we put our Optimus to Hugo and De Niro. It’s hysterical. It looks just like ’em. It’s very funny.

CS/SHH!: So it’s motion capturing the faces?
Bay: It’s not fully like a human face but it does have certain human things to it. Otherwise as humans we wouldn’t associate with it as much. We did a lot of different studies, like if you do nothing, it’s kind of like it doesn’t hit us.

CS/SHH!: What did you try that didn’t work?
Bay: If they’re just frozen robots, pure metal that doesn’t move and the eyebrow kind of thing. We have these eye slits that can kind of move and the eyes how they move. It’s got to have some human things to it to make it so successful to us. You look at the cartoons, that is like 90% away where we have to go. Right now they’re just big glowing eyes that have no emotions. It’s what I keep trying to tell the fanboys is this has got to be so much more realistic than what they’ve seen in the past. But they’re angry about everything. I hear they want to protest in front of my office by the way, but I won’t be there. I’m shooting.

CS/SHH!: We’re seeing four cars here? Who?
Bay: I don’t have time to go through the whole thing because each one has got like three paragraphs. That’s Ratchet right there [the ambulance], that’s Ironhide the black truck, and that’s a newly transformed Bumblebee. It started out as an old Camaro, becomes a new Camero, there’s a reason for that in the script. and we’ve got Jazz right here [silver car]. Jazz, when you have full height on Jazz, I think he’s about 13 feet tall. Bumblebee’s about 16-17 feet tall. Ratchet’s about 23 ft, 24 ft. Ironhide’s very wide when he’s transformed and he’s about 26 foot tall robot. Then Optimus is I think 28. Megatron is like 34.

CS/SHH!: Changing Ratchet?
Bay: We just made him more like one of those kind of modern rescue kind of ground type vehicles.

CS/SHH!: Is that Furby truck a transformer?
Bay: No, we wanted to have burning Furbys. Burning Furbys somewhere on the ground. Have you seen those little Furbys? We’re going to be blowing up a lot of little Furbys.

Transformers hits theaters on July 4.