“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is out in theatres and with it comes a new batch of Transformers to excite on screen.
As one could imagine, it takes an incredible amount of hard work to make the Hasbro toys look incredible on screen.
That’s where the visual effects crew of Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM) comes in.
We caught up with ILM’s Scott Farrar, the visual effects supervisor on “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” who explained how long it takes to bring a Transformer in the film to life.
“It’s a long struggle because they’re not simple models,” Farrar told Business Insider. “They’re made of thousands of pieces. One robot might take 15 weeks or more to build just for the model maker to make the pieces and to paint, and assign gestures. Then it’s another 15 just to rig it so it basically has a skeleton that you can animate.”
There are at least 10 new Transformers in the latest sequel joining Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. However, there’s one Transformer Farrar says was more complicated for the ILM team to put together.
“Crosshairs was as difficult as we’ve ever had,” said Farrar.
A lot of that had to do with the Transformer’s chrome face which is difficult to work with because of the reflections you normally see on a chrome surface.
“One thing that we try and do, that I spend most of my days doing, is trying to light these things so they look as photoreal as possible,” explained Farrar. “Well, to do that with a metal surface, like a car, what are you seeing? Colour. But, you also see the reflection of the environment. You see the world around.”
“A reflection of a face that has to show emotion but reflect everything is difficult inherently to deal with,” he added. “So we do all these little tricks to change what the reflections look like so we can read the face better, so you can see the lights and darks. And then we added a little bit more scorch and dirt and colour. We added a little bit of brass to his cheeks and his chin and different things to help you see what his facial emotion is when he’s speaking or looking toward the camera. It took a while but we go in and we have to figure these things out.”
Crosshairs is also the only Transformer we see on screen who turns into both a car and a helicopter, a nod to incarnations of the toy.
Farrar said seeing the final project on screen is extremely rewarding for the ILM crew.
“It’s a tribute to a monumental task that this crew accomplished. A lot of these folks have been with me through every other movie,” he said. “That helps a great deal. There’s so much commitment to the quality of the work … the quality of work and the imagery have gotten better and better.”
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