TRANSFORMERS, the $700 million smash hit from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, in association with Hasbro, rolls out in a fully-loaded, two-disc Blu-ray presentation on September 2, giving fans the chance to discover that there's definitely "More Than Meets The Eye" to the legendary Autobots and Decepticons. The highly-anticipated release is Paramount Home Entertainment's first to incorporate BD Live capabilities.
The massive production exploded onto screens last year from the creative minds of director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg, taking audiences by storm and becoming the top-selling DVD of 2007. The first live-action film based on the enduringly popular "robots in disguise," TRANSFORMERS features the ultimate battle between good and evil, as the peace-loving Autobots seek to protect humanity from the evil forces of the Decepticons.
The action-packed film stars Shia LaBeouf (INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL), Josh Duhamel (LAS VEGAS), Tyrese Gibson (FOUR BROTHERS) and Megan Fox (HOPE & FAITH), as well as seasoned performers such as Jon Voight (NATIONAL TREASURE) and John Turturro (THE GOOD SHEPHERD).
Still, the biggest stars are the TRANSFORMERS robots themselves -- including fan favorites Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Ratchet and Jazz -- brought to life by revolutionary vfx techniques developed by ILM.
ILM was certainly up to the challenge of creating 30-foot-tall CG Autobots and Decepticons that had to look photoreal. No easy feat considering how complex and chained together they are. Joining VFX Supervisor Scott Farrar were Animation Supervisor Scott Benza, CG Supervisor Hilmar Koch and the rest of the crew. They not only had to create 14 fully CG characters with all of their individually controllable vehicular pieces (from oil filters to axles to pistons to body panels), but also a new system that could tackle the immense rendering demands. Fortunately, ILM's new artist-friendly Zeno platform, which transparently handles file conversion, came in handy.
For Farrar, TRANSFORMERS represents a new watermark in ultra-realistic hard body surfaces. "This had to be rendered and it's terribly complicated," Farrar told VFXWORLD. For instance, in addition to Optimus Prime's 10,108 parts, there are also 1.8 million polygons and 2,000 texture maps. Which is also why ILM developed dynamic rigging so the animators could deal with the large number of parts, interacting on the fly while paying attention to certain sections that they were animating. "Let's say you had a close-up," Farrar added, "and the animator only had to deal with one arm, shoulders and a head. They basically identify the area and grab that to simplify it."
Meanwhile, there were several advancements with regard to more realistic-looking lighting. "We were very specific as far as key lights and fill lights, not including the overall reflections: that was a given for each and every robot," Farrar continued. "So we had to plus that out. But then we added key lights, and shadows and cutters and flags, so our robots would actually go in and out of narrowed lights with barn doors just like you'd do on sets. I wanted you to see that these are really big guys, so that if a robot knelt down toward camera, he actually moved out of a key on his left side and it got darker there, and he moved into a right key, and you really felt the volume lighting in ways you haven't seen before."
The TRANSFORMERS Blu-ray presentation offers consumers an incredible movie experience, packed full of bonus material that delivers excitement and fun for long-time fans, as well as for viewers who are new to the TRANSFORMERS universe. Among the extensive special features, viewers can access commentary from director Michael Bay along with two documentaries that provide an in-depth look at the human elements of the film as well as the phenomenal robot stars.
Presented in multiple parts, "Our World" and "Their War" include segments with Steven Spielberg discussing his love for the franchise and the early concept for the movie. The segments also cover the extensive casting process, the training, consultants and real-world weapons provided by the military to lend authenticity to the film, the evolution of the robots from Hasbro's iconic toy line to big-screen stars, the unique vehicles created for the movie, a discussion with ILM's legendary digital artists and much more.
The discs go even further behind-the-scenes with early sketch concepts of the robots and an in-depth look at the making of the Skorponok attack from writing and conceptualization through the creation of the stunning visual effects.
In addition to superior picture, sound and bonus material presented in high definition, the Blu-ray presentation provides consumers with sensational BD-Live features, allowing for compelling experiences around the film and the opportunity to maintain engagement with fans.
Features include a TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode in which an on-screen dashboard over the film provides information about the robots and weapons, their strength levels, character updates, a GPS Locator and more.
The TRANSFORMERS Profiler can be activated at any time during the film and allows viewers to access detailed information about the cast, voice talent and filmmakers including biographies and filmographies, as well as extensive production notes on the movie itself. The Menubots can be downloaded through BD-Live and give fans the option to customize their in-movie menus with Optimus Prime, Megatron or Bumblebee themes.
Additional on-disc features include the TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display), which lets viewers access running text commentary while watching the film and even view relevant behind-the-scenes footage in a picture-in-picture window; and the Tech Inspector, which delivers 360 detailed, high definition views of the heads, torsos and bases of six of the TRANSFORMERS with rotational capabilities.
The Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p High Definition with English in Dolby True HD, and French and Spanish versions in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
The TRANSFORMERS Blu-ray includes the following special features:
Disc 1:--Feature film--Commentary by Director Michael Bay--TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display) -- In this mode, viewers can access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other filmmakers during select sequences.--BD-Live Features:--TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode--Menubots--TRANSFORMERS Profiler
Disc 2:--Our World--The Story Sparks -- Steven Spielberg discusses his love for the franchise and early concept art for the film. Explores how the writers adapted the cartoon into a live-action movie and why Michael Bay is the perfect director for the film.--Human Allies -- A look at how the actors were selected and their experiences on the set.--I Fight Giant Robots -- An exploration of the military training that Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson underwent for their roles and the various stunts that the actors were asked to perform.--Battleground -- A piece on the senior officials from the Department of Defense and Air Force who consulted on the film to give it authenticity and the key locations that the U.S. government provided access to.
Their War--Rise of the Robots -- Explores the interaction between Hasbro designers and Michael Bay to bring the toy line roaring to life.--Autobots Roll Out -- Michael Bay discusses working with Chevy and its designers and the modifications that were made to the cars seen in the film. --Decepticons Strike -- The film's military advisors discuss the "toys" they allowed the production to borrow: F-22 Raptors, Ospreys and A-10 Warthogs.--Inside the AllSpark -- ILM's digital artists discuss the challenges of bringing the TRANSFORMERS to life.--TRANSFORMERS Tech Inspector - Gives viewers an unprecedented look at the TRANSFORMERS robots through the exquisitely detailed models created by ILM artists. Users can zoom in on each detail for a closer examination and pause and change the rotation of the models.
--More Than Meets The Eye--From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack -- An in-depth look at the making of this particularly epic and challenging scene from initial storyboarding through production and visual effects.--Concepts -- Early sketch concepts of the robots.--Theatrical Trailers