An employee of ILM for thirty years now (he worked on ‘Jedi’, and before that, the early Star Trek films), Farrar has lent his considerable talents to Michael Bay for over six years, and the third of the Transformers films presented the biggest challenge and most ambitious undertaking in his career so far. As well as a huge leap in digital effects this time around (giving ILM more than 200,000 hours of rendering power a day), Farrar and his team had to create a cityscape ravaged by a Decepticon onslaught, and unleash the awe-inspiring, building-devouring juggernaut referred to as the “Driller”, a giant snake-like creature with spinning rotator blades, knives and teeth (and comprised of over 70,000 parts!) All this was achieved while also factoring in the inclusion of 3D.
Whatever your thoughts are on the finished film, the sheer scope of the effects and the technological advancements are a thrilling part of the process, and have definitely helped to contribute to its mammoth success (it’s currently the fourth highest-grossing film of all time).
Breaking down the painstaking work that went into creating the world of Dark of the Moon, Farrar’s 30 minute slide presentation looked at all aspects of the film’s effects. A firm believer in establishing as convincing a world as possible with the technology (“CG looks lousy unless it’s dirty”) Farrar’s own noticeable personal touches to the work in the Transformers series has been the insistence of deploying those fun biochemical touched to the robots, as they spit machinery fluid and haemorrhage oil during bloody battle sequences.
A candid and revealing presentation, Farrar talked about Bay’s on-set habits, and how his usual bombastic style of shooting needed reigning in from time to time to make concessions for the 3D (it’s clear watching the film that a much clearer geographic sense of the action is established throughout this time around).
He also divulged some interesting titbits about a couple of lesser-known aspects of the production. For instance, the FX team were actively encouraged to participate in story ideas and the Chernobyl scene and the moon conspiracy springboard for the story resulted from those workshops. Initial Sentinel Prime tests were achieved by using footage of Sean Connery as a template, and Farrar screened these matching shots. It was interesting to note how close they used Connery’s visage, making the process much easier to adapt for the actual actor (Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy) when he came onboard to do voiceover duties.
This industry veteran’s passion and boyish enthusiasm for taking on these huge, potentially overwhelming projects was very much apparent during the presentation, and it’s that youthful and passionate attitude which has undoubtedly helped him make a successful transition to a digital landscape.
While it’s the director who usually receives the kudos for their cinematic efforts, behind the scenes figures like Scott Farrar are the unsung heroes of this world.