Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth film in director Michael Bay’s global blockbuster franchise. Released worldwide in IMAX 3D, 3D and 2D, this new film will reportedly kick-off a new Transformers trilogy, featuring as it does a new cast and the introduction of a new species - the Dinobots. Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing and Kelsey Grammer star in what is set to be the biggest film of the franchise so far.
The story begins four years after the epic battle that left Chicago devastated in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. As humanity picks up the pieces it turns its back on the Transformers, leading Optimus Prime to lose faith in humankind. Taking advantage of this, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history, while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. With help from a mechanic (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter (Nicola Peltz), Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and the Autobots must rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet.
Prime Focus World was proud to work with Bay Films and Paramount Pictures to deliver stereo VFX services for Transformers: Age of Extinction, reporting directly to Paramount Executive Stereographer Corey Turner, with whom PFW has previously worked on Noah (2014), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Men in Black 3 (2012) and World War Z (2013). The work PFW delivered for the movie was a combination of stereo effects and 2D visual effects that spanned more than 70 minutes of the film. Senior Stereo Supervisor Ben Murray and VFX Supervisor Nigel Denton-Howes led the teams on Transformers Age of Extinction out of Vancouver, with the support of PFW’s Mumbai team.
“Transformers was an interesting project,” said Ben Murray of the film’s stereo needs. “The expectations of Michael Bay and Corey Turner were very high, and we worked incredibly hard to ensure that we delivered within the tight timeframe. The film is spectacular; it has rockets, it has explosions, it’s got a huge amount of very high quality CG, and very fast-paced action sequences - everything you’d expect from a Transformers movie.”
As Ben explained, Prime Focus World delivered a variety of work that supported the overall stereo look of the film. “We had a huge remit on Transformers: Age of Extinction. We were working with natively captured stereo plates, and part of our work was to make these stereo shots more stable. We also augmented a lot of the natively-shot stereo footage that was captured using long lenses, which can make character’s faces look flat, by sculpting the characters’ faces to restore depth and realism.”
Ben also talked about PFW’s FX pipeline for conversion, which was utilised to take the stereo VFX to a whole new level. “We have used particle effects on a number of shows now - on Noah we provided stereo renders for the rain sequences, for World War Z we added rain and floating particulates. For Transformers, just as we have been doing in London for Edge of Tomorrow, we have augmented many more shots with stereo effects - stereo smoke, snow and other particles - to create 3D moments and add to the overall experience.”
Associate Stereographer Ricky Aggarwal spoke about the challenges of converting the 2D-rendered VFX. “The collaboration has been immense. We received broken out VFX elements, so we were able to give every element in every shot the detail and attention it deserved - there was no compromise when it came to creating the stereo. Corey’s support in ensuring the VFX elements were delivered as we needed them was invaluable, and the end result is there to be seen on the big screen.”
“Agility was the key word for my work on this particular film,” commented Nigel Denton-Howes on the 2D VFX work that Prime Focus World delivered for the action blockbuster. “Achieving that agility was the biggest challenge on this show, but it will also be the biggest asset we have gained. We were initially given about 33 VFX shots, but ended up delivering 159 shots as the work continued to flow and we became more agile as a team.” Nigel and his team contributed VFX in a variety of facets, from paintwork and wire removal to completing shots filled with large-scale effects.
Nigel shared that one technique used was to leverage the features of Nuke. “Using Nuke we could do re-projections in 3D, rebuild an environment, augment some paint work, or even change effects, such as missile trails, after the fact. For instance, we might give more or less break-up as the missile flies by, or make the smoke dissipate faster or slower. We were able to do a lot more of that in the 2D context rather than going back to 3D and re-rendering significant portions of work.”
“We try to ensure that all the work we do pushes the boundaries of what is possible,” said Ben Murray. “Transformers: Age of Extinction was no exception. There are things we have done on this show that we haven’t done on any other shows. I think that audiences are going to be blown away.”
Prime Focus Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director Merzin Tavaria concluded: “The stereo VFX work we delivered for Transformers: Age of Extinction is exceptional, and helps make the film a great 3D visual experience for the audience. Our main objective was to aid the storytelling with 3D and we successfully achieved this by giving the shots extreme scene depth, whilst ensuring the stereo to be believable and technically correct. It was an honor to partner with Paramount Pictures and director Michael Bay for Transformers: Age of Extinction, and I am extremely proud that the global Prime Focus stereo team has been able to play a part in bringing this movie to the big screen.”
Transformers: Age of Extinction will bow in U.S. and Indian theaters June 27, 2014, and in the UK on July 5.
RELEASE: June 27 2014 (US) | July 5 2014 (UK)
Director: Michael Bay
Studios / Distributors: Paramount Pictures
Head of Production: Rohan Desai
Executive Producer: Pat Sandston
Senior Stereo Supervisor: Ben Murray
Associate Stereo Supervisor: Ritesh “Ricky” Aggarwal
VFX Supervisor: Nigel Denton-Howes
VFX CG Supervisor: Fredrik Sundqvist
Head of FX: Tom Allen
View-D™Producer: Chad Cortvriendt
View-D™Production Manager: Cassius Vaz
VFX Line Producer: Mark Van Ee
View-D™ Pipeline TD: Isaac Guenard, Catherine Bree, Charlie Luce
2D Pipeline TD: John Verderbeck
Head of View-D™: Merzin Tavaria
Executive Producer: Stephen Mascarenhas
Senior Stereo Supervisor: Jimmy Philip
Stereo Supervisor: Swapnil Shellar
Head of Production: Sharad Tandon
View-D™ Producer: Franklin Mascarenhas
View-D™ Production Manager: Gufran Khan
View-D™ 3D Technical Supervisor: Parminder Chadda
View-D™ Pipeline TD: Swapnil Kulkarni, Piyush Jain