My Ultimate Bluray box set arrived from Amazon.com (US) the other day, and I'm keen to go through EVERYTHING... from Movies, commentaries, and the extra Special Features.
Since I've watched a lot of the extra features for the first two, the first disc I popped into my PS3 was the Special Features disc for TF3.
Wow, this was more insightful than I had expected. Enlightening me about certain characters and themes/events. I might have to go back over the Extra Features of the first two movies and review them as well.
They constantly talk down TF2, and blame the writer's strike for it... but the plot wasn't the only problem, or even the main problem. It was still a good movie that did its job, and was still good enough for me to want to watch several times. But it's almost like they are not wanting to take responsibility for the end result, or even be proud of what they did achieve from it.
Dino was initially based on Gen1 Mirage, with the invisibility power, but as those "Mirage" features were dropped, the character was focused on being a "Ferrari" character... named Enzo, with an Italian accent (and then later named Dino, during or after filming). Hasbro calling their two Dino toys as Mirage is totally their idea, as the red robot character they are based on, is nothing like what it was when it was still being called Mirage.
Que was also initially being based on a Gen1 character - Wheeljack (crossed with the James Bond Q character), but as it's early proposed character sheets were too "Pixar" and "cartoony" for Bay, Spielberg suggested an Einstein look. (it's just a shame that they ended up naming it after someone else's character, instead of giving it a unique name if they didn't want an existing Transformers name)
The Wreckers were intended to resemble the NASCAR enthusiasts, as a blending of robot and human/organic appearance. An early animation had one in yellow - perhaps changed to green to not be too similar to Bumblebee.
Sentinel Prime's early animation models were all named "Ultra Magnus", but seems like it was just a place-holder name, as the character was set out as being a father figure to Optimus, and designed to resemble a Japanese anime martial artist.
The three Dreads are pretty much entirely Bay's idea, as a pack of wild animal hunters, in vehicle modes. (a pity we didn't get decent toys of these either - so much of TF3 was wasted in the toy department)
Shockwave was based on the Gen1 character, as a powerful foe for Optimus (which didn't end up happening in the Movie). The Driller was a confusing mix of ideas during its creation process, be it a beast or mere chariot for Shockwave. It seems that they just ended up focusing on creating a visual marvel, but decided against trying to explain what it is.
Optimus' Trailer - described as "a thing of beauty". After the temporary TF2 Jetwing upgrade, a more permanent version was created for Optimus, and the trailer becoming an Armoury killed 2 birds with the one stone - it allowed his new weapons to be with him all the time, and deals with the age-old question of where the trailer goes when (Gen1) Optimus transforms.
Bumblebee & Sideswipe cars were both sent back to GM to be modified to give them (slightly) "new looks". (both should have been given new forms, along with other carry-over cast, as an incentive to buy TF3 toys of each that looked the same as their TF2 toys)
Megan Fox - this was an interesting bit. Michael Bay tried to explain why she wasn't in the third movie, which was different to the reasons floating around news sites (perhaps he didn't want to sound vindictive over the things she said about him in the past, but he still came off that way when talking about her "celebrity" personality). He said that when he met up with her 8 months after TF2, for TF3, she had undergone so much cosmetic/vanity changes, that she was too "Hollywood" for her character. (not a surprise though, as she was very "celebrity" oriented during the first movie and its promotions/premieres - when I saw her in 2007 at the Sydney Premiere, she was the one with the ego and vanity... going so far as correcting people who didn't pronounce her name as "May-gan")
They mention that the decision to drop her was made a week into filming, so the excuse that TF2 was bad because of the writers' strike isn't too plausible if they had to re-write TF3 a week into filming to replace one of the two main characters.
Rosie - Does very well on the screen tests, and impressed the casting people & director with her humble-ness (I guess they didn't want to risk another demanding leading actress). For someone who hasn't had any acting experience, she does have a natural talent from the neck up... she just needs to be more expressive with her body movements.
They talk about using the 3D camera, being a huge cumbersome piece of equipment that slowed down filming, but the results (which could be viewed as they were filming, with 3D glasses), was making it worth the hassle. Bay was initially frustrated, but was amazed at the results as they were filming.
The huge tilting office building set they built was amazing. A third of the size of a football field, it was a set built on hydraulics, that could be "hinged" to up to 45 degrees. They found that about 25 degrees is as far as it can tilt before it was impossible to stay on your feet... so obviously Bay wanted to push it as far as possible, by going with 22 degrees. The cast and crew all said it was the most difficult period of filming, but also the most fun... like an amusement park ride.
The set was also used for the exterior scene of when they were sliding down the glass exterior of the building... A 110 foot length of slippery slide, lubricated with powder and waxed glass.
Filming in the American capital was the most challenging filming ever for Bay, due to all the permits required, because of how close they were to the White House and Capital Building. And they only had one chance at most of the shots.
He also wanted to film the Lincoln Memorial (the building with the big Lincoln sitting in a chair), but kept getting "no" for every idea he submitted. Since they couldn't close off the memorial from the public to film the interior, Bay had Josh Duhamel cause a distraction outside for the public to meet him and get autographs, leaving the interior empty for Bay to get as much filmed for later computer animation.
They couldn't even have a camera tripod inside the memorial in case it scratched the floor I guess, so they improvised by having each tripod leg resting inside a shoe, just to get permission to have a camera tripod in there.
The white car that Simmons uses is apparently worth 1.6 million dollars, and there is said to only be 1 or 4 in existence. Since Bay is such a car enthusiast, it was obviously something he wanted included in the movie (maybe it's his), but was very strict with what could go near it, to prevent any scratches or damage to it. The car would be cordoned off with safety cones and covered in plastic when not in use, while the interior would be covered when people were inside it.
Even still, one scene had the car run into some debris and smash up the front panel of the car. I can imagine that the person driving probably got chewed out and then fired.
TF3 was the first film since 9/11 that was allowed to be filmed at the NASA Cape Kennedy space center. Bay is the only director to have filmed there twice, and is probably the last to film an actual working space shuttle now that the program has ended. They even managed to get all the way to the launch platform, despite initially being told they couldn't go past the perimeter gate. But with constant arm-twisting and negotiating, they got closer than most NASA employees do.
Filming on the roof itself was also something they boasted, as less than 5% of NASA staff have even had access to the roof and its view.
Even the fact that the shuttle was exposed on the platform was sheer luck, as the main gantry that encloses it, was only just opened the night before.
It's amazing to hear everyone talk about how hard Bay is, but praise him for it, because its the role needed for a successful director, and they see that he gets the job done and gets the best out of his people and his "art".
They also commented on how much he changes his mind and vision throughout filming, improvising and adding things... making a script need to be vague and adaptable. Another reason why a Writers' strike wouldn't be a reason for TF2 being labelled as bad.
He seems to be a mix of traditionalist (wants to do as much special effects during filming as possible to minimise CG effects), and modernist (using the latest technology and techniques - often being the pioneer).
They showed his own personalised Nike shoes that Nike gave him as a gift, with "Bayhem" written on the sides.
If he ever sold those one of a kind pair of shoes on ebay, they'd fetch a hefty price I think.
Bay got to talk with the astronauts on the space station, while at NASA.
They talk about using Chicago, and how much access and power they got to film there. They were only the second time Michigan Avenue was shut down. The first being for Oprah.
The amount of people that came to watch the Chicago shooting was estimated to be over 20 thousand, and when they had a chance, they would be allowed to meet the crowds of people... which would give the cast a boost. It was described as like being at Universal Studios, with all the fans mobbing the stars.
You get to see a lot of the filming "rough cuts" before post-production editing and CG effects are added.
The gliding wing-suits were an impulsive addition, after Bay saw it on 60 Minutes. He had his people contact the stunt divers straight away to get them onto the movie. It took a lot of prep work, and even involved some base jumping off Willis Tower, but the main jumps were out of a helicopter. Everything in the movie except the craft they jump out of is real, and this segment was to prove that.
One had to jump with a 3D camera mounted on his head.
This was the first time wing-suits had been base-jumped from a building in America.
The Driller once again challenged ILM, who already broke new ground and animation records with Devastator in TF2. This one would again crash computers, even with newer, better technology driving it.
The sound effects also broke records, with one segment of the movie maxing out the total number of sound effects possible - something that has never happened before.
The sound of the Driller screaming is actually a recording of a baboon.
They showed Leonard Nimoy recording some lines, and how they got him on board.
The unfortunate thing about seeing these behind-the-scenes clips is seeing how many "high command" people it takes to make this movie, but it's the Director who gets all the credit (and big bucks). The number of people who do the work, with Bay telling them what to do... it's like the CEO of a company who tells the managers what he wants to happen, but the managers do all the work for the CEO to make a bigger bonus. I kinda felt bad for all those people who were doing the leg work, while Bay would be sitting in his office telling different people what to do, or what to do with his new thoughts for the day. And they had a lot of freedom, so a lot of their ideas end up being credited to the one name pinned to the movie - the Director.
There was also a featurette/documentary on NASA, detailing past, present and future. It was very informative, a bit moving, and also surprising... to see it included, despite it not having anything to do with the DotM Movie itself.
Overall, I found the special features for TF3 to be more rewarding (worth the time spent watching it all) than expected, and more than usual for what Movies have as Extra features.
Now to watch the Movie with commentary audio playing... to find out more background info on this movie (usually where all the good stuff is found).