That said, the Transformers director appears to have become a bit more open to the idea of 3D filmmaking, at least when compared to his statement nearly at year ago at ShoWest 2009, when he said, "I might be old school. I think it might be a gimmick."
However, the director remains unconvinced:
"I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process."
Bay also challenged the notion that retrofitting a film for 3D costs around $100,000 per minute of footage, asserting that the number is closer to the $120,000 - $150,000 range - meaning a quality conversion of Transformers 3 could run about $30 million.
In addition to the cost, the director doesn't feel the completed conversions have held up to his litmus test for awesomeness:
"I am trying to be sold, and some companies are still working on the shots I gave them. Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice. I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3D."
So why doesn't Bay just shoot in 3D?
On the same stage where he asserted that 3D might just be a "gimmick," the director also stated that the way he shoots a film is "too aggressive for 3-D cameras." While Bay's feelings about the possibilities of 3D may have softened a bit, it's safe to say the technology hasn't evolved enough over the last year to meet the director's fast-paced, go-go-go filming style.
Always the championing for the everyday moviegoer, Bay concludes:
"Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not. Avatar took four years. You can’t just $#!% out a 3D movie. I’m saying, the jury is still out.”
It's good to see Bay holding his ground on this point; at the very least it means that if Bay ultimately caves, Transformers 3 will get the best possible 3D conversion possible ;-) .
Transformers 2 was a clear example of a film muddled by too much high-powered visual tech. The combination of fast-paced CGI effects, mixed with IMAX-sized visuals, at times detracted from the overall experience. Imagine if Bay had added 3D into the mix.
While the forest sequence was a highlight of the TF2, other set-pieces flew by in a blurry mishmash of colorful robot parts - even in 2D. Watching the film again on DVD allowed for a much clearer notion of what was actually happening - even if it was missing the epic "wow" factor.
This is certainly a line that filmmakers will need to investigate for themselves going forward, as retrofitting films with 3D can detract from the visual experience the director had originally intended, undermining the overall experience.
Regardless, the pressure for filmmakers to produce the next Avatar isn't going dissipate anytime soon.
What do you think of Bay's comments? Would you like to see 3D sequences in the next Transformers?
Transformers 3 is scheduled for a July 1, 2011 release.