A Colossal Transformers Sequel
Michael Bay took James Cameron's advice to heart about shooting Transformers: Dark of the Moon in stereo, and the result is a dynamic 3-D experience that that's arguably the best poster child since Avatar. In fact, it helps put to rest the notion that conversion is necessarily bad. They had to split it up because there weren't enough stereo cameras and Industrial Light & Magic could only do so much, even with 300 + people working on the film (Digital Domain was a major contributor as well).
"There was a lot more compositing and double the work of the paint and roto artists," admits Scott Farrar, ILM's visual effects supervisor, who has been on the franchise for nearly six years. "And we were doing 3D shots that originated on a stereo rig, shot with two cameras, so at ILM we put all the renders in for two eyes and fit it all in to what was shot with two cameras. Every aerial plate was single camera; we have crash cameras that were single camera; and anamorphic lenses that were used; spherical lenses that were used; all the varieties of different distortions that all have to be completed in 2-D and shipped out to conversion houses and completely broken down in layers so they can do the conversion.
"The problem with conversion was they had to be done first before the stereo shots. We had multiple deadlines. But qualitatively it helped, as opposed to an all-conversion project. It gave the conversion companies a comparison to look at and we were able to make them conform to the look we were after."
To get the final shots rendered in stereo, ILM had to lock out parts of the render farm for days at a time. On the last scheduled weekend of production, for instance, Dark of the Moon took over the entire render farm, giving ILM more than 200,000 hours of rendering power a day. Or 22.8 years every 24 hours.