Oscar 2012: Scott Farrar Talks Transformers: Dark of the Moon
BD: And then your most render intensive character of all time, Colossus.
SF: Over 70,000 parts. You wouldn't think it, too. It's a worm. There are scenes where it's hard to see it, but we had to install almost a peristalsis-type of motion to the rings and to the innards. He's basically a long tube made of many, many tubes and giant rings that would turn and gears and so forth. And then lots of pointy pokers that stick out. So it's one of those characters you build and then you get into shot production and you realize you need to build some more things on him, so we came up with this huge library of parts. There were at least 70 basic parts: just barbs and pointy knife blades and hinges and different bony shapes that we could attach. And eventually he got rigged bigger and bigger and bigger. He had to slink in certain ways that we hadn't really set up in the first place for. And then was fully reflective with all those paints and so forth. When he arrives in the street of Chicago, he comes roaring around the corner and cuts through in front of the big iconic building. None of these robots ever really look good unless they have a little wear and tear.
BD: And what about the importance of lighting and the film noir influence?
SF: I thought it would be really fun since everybody knows the characters to rim light them and back light them and go darker whenever appropriate. And who doesn't love film noir and I showed Michael The Third Man, Double Indemnity -- classic stuff. It's really much more dramatic and fun. But my feeling is, OK, you've got to nail the animation, you've got to nail the materials, you've got to have fabulous rigging and all the paints. But eventually it's all about the lighting. And there are times when you don't have to show them off. You can go sketchy. And my background is as a cinematographer and that's all I'm trying to do: add a bit of theatricality.
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. He has a new blog, Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), and is currently writing a book about the evolution of James Bond from Connery to Craig, scheduled for publication this year, which is the 50th anniversary of the franchise.