Last night, RT headed over to Paramount for a summit of two commercial movie titans we didn’t think one room would be big enough to hold: filmmakers, tech junkies and fellow lovers of giant robots Michael Bay and James Cameron. The Transformers director was on hand to screen footage of his forthcoming planet-leveling opus, Dark of the Moon, which was shot in part using the 3D camera rigs developed by Cameron for Avatar.
The conversation made for some curious banter between the two directors, with first-time 3D user Bay admitting he was skeptical about the technology — “It might be a gimmick, I’m not sure,” he told a 2009 Showest convention — especially with his manic 50-60 per-day shot schedule and the challenges of filming with heavy stereoscopic cameras when “surrounded by 100 burning cars.”
“I’m just a director with a little dream doing a 3D movie,” Bay joked (we think), admitting that he “ended up loving” Cameron’s lightweight digital rigs and saying 3D “felt right for this movie. It was like a new toy and I loved it every day.”
“I like the fact that you’re using the 3D aggressively,” Cameron added to Bay, “like you ever do anything that isn’t aggressive.”
Proving the point, Bay then screened the opening five minutes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: a prologue that [mild spoilers] opens with a massive Decepticon-Autobot space battle before revealing the real purpose of mankind’s trip to the Moon in 1969 — to investigate the long-dormant remains of a crashed robot craft. The director then unspooled an extended montage of footage from the film, which included large-scale destruction of downtown Chicago amidst a cacophonous battle between marines and Decepitcons, and some genuinely thrilling stunt skydiving through the canyons of skycrapers — some of it shot with a 3D camera helmet attached to the stuntmen. If there’s anything likely to surpass the almost-absurd spectacle of Transformers 2, this is it.
Bay and Cameron also engaged in a wider discussion of 3D technology. “The thing about this stuff,” said Cameron, “is that every filmmaker’s gonna use it differently.” And while Bay admits to still preferring film over digital where he can, both directors are on the same page when it comes to the misuse of the technology.
“There’s so many 3D movies that are done badly, post conversion,” Bay explained, “and you can tell audiences are getting turned off — ’cause it’s bullsh** 3D. Not everything is right for 3D — [Transformers] was appropriate, for the experience.”
Cameron concurred: “[3D] is a way to fight back; it gets people back to the cinema experience — but we’re abusing it left and right [with 3D post conversion].”
According to Cameron, this is just the beginning of the 3D experience. “We’re where the automobile industry was in 1905,” he said of the technology’s development.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is released on June 30 in Australia, and July 1 in the US and UK.