Vince Pace – who was the director of photography on the Los Angeles unit of Avatar – spoke out about Transformers 3 to reporters at a press conference this week and mentioned that Michael Bay’s new movie with giant robots wreaking havoc was shot in 3D, but that there would be post-3D conversion work done on the film as well.

We got in touch with Paramount today and learned that while certain sequences of Transformers 3– specifically, those that feature CGI effects/animation – will be converted to 3D in post-production, the live-action portions of the film were filmed using 3D camera rigs.

The post-conversion to 3D process has gotten a bum rap since Warner Bros. rushed it on this year’s Clash of the Titans remake and is generally considered inferior to the use of 3D camera systems to shoot a film. The first half of the final Harry Potter film is not being released in 3D largely because of the Titans snafu and the very negative response it received from both moviegoers and industry figures, while this month’s Saw 3D has sold itself in part on the claim that it is “the first theatrical feature to shot exclusively on the cutting-edge SI-3D digital camera system.”

Pace talked up the mix of 3D camera rigs and post-conversion technology that will be used on the third Transformers movie and pointed out that time and effort are both important factors that affect the quality of what he referred to as the “dimensionalization quotient.”

Here’s an official quote from Pace on 3D in general and how Avatar has affected filmmakers’ approach to using the technology:

“This theory of just push-button [3D] in the context of a film that you already have an allotted amount for 2D, the fact that you’re going to convert it into 3D, I think people are beginning to realize that’s not as great an option as it once was thought to be. ‘Avatar’ kind of elevated us to say, now we have a 3D camera to go shoot a 3D movie, and you can make the money of ‘Avatar’. [But] I do feel that if you have the proper amount of time, given a ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Star Wars,’ and if you put the right team together, you can make good product.”

Transformers 3 will feature tons of eye-popping FX and CGI, so Bay and his production crew want to be certain that those visuals aren’t heavily blurred or distorted as a result of the 3D conversion process. Moviegoers flock to the Transformers franchise to see over-the-top action and explosive set pieces and won’t be happy if they pay a couple of extra bucks to watch all that in 3D, only to end up  being unable to make out any of the animated robot action onscreen (though that was kind of the case with the first Transformers movie and yet the sequel was even more popular, so…).

No one doubts that Transformers 3 will be a financial hit in theaters, but if the mix of 3D live-action footage and post-conversion animated material doesn’t turn out well, it could severely weaken moviegoers’ demands for movies being presented in the third dimension. That’s something that Hollywood really doesn’t want to see happen, considering how many upcoming tentpole pics are going to be released in 3D.

What are your expectations for the look of Transformers 3?

Source: Paramount, Cinematical