Toward the end of February of last year, as James Cameron's "Avatar" was crossing the $700 million mark at the domestic box office on its way to a record-shattering worldwide total, "Transformers" director Michael Bay was still not convinced that 3-D was the true future of popcorn moviemaking.
"I've seen some tests that look great on other movies. I just want to see how it looks on my footage... in terms of a lot of real stuff coming out of the frame, real dirt, real complicated little particles coming towards the lens," he said at the time by way of revealing that he was considering a 3-D treatment for the third installment of his alien robot franchise.
The fact that he'd even arrived at such a testing phase is a credit both to Cameron and "Transformers" exec producer Stephen Spielberg. "Jim Cameron, he's like, 'Mike, you got to do it in 3-D,' " Bay told MTV News recently. "Stephen Spielberg, he says, 'Michael, you should do this in 3-D,' and I'm like, 'I don't know about the technology.' "
In the end, Bay became convinced that the tech was solid. For "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," he shot, by his own estimation, 60 percent of the finished film using 3-D cameras, another 15 percent consisting of all-digital 3-D shots and 25 percent footage converted from two dimensions to three. And while the director remains happy with the results, he did not mince words in talking about the challenges of working with 3-D cameras.
"It's hard with my style of shooting and taking [a camera] and strapping it to guys who are skydiving off buildings, and helmet cams," he said. "It's a technical nightmare. You don't even want to tell your viewers how technically complicated this stuff is."
To accommodate the limitations of a 3-D presentation, Bay ended up adjusting his often-kinetic approach to filmmaking. "I've slowed down my style on this one," he explained. "There are longer shots, there are evolving shots, some shots are 45 seconds long, where you're going in and through things. Where people say, 'Oh, I can't watch action with 3-D,' it's where 3-D was done poorly and your eye goes in and out, and if it jumps fast, it's when you get bad 3-D, because it screws with your head. Shot by shot, we're transitioning the viewer. You can really feel the action in this. It's much more experiential."
Check out everything we've got on "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
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