Living in Los Angeles I am afforded certain things that sometimes I feel I take for granted. I live twenty minutes from snow-covered mountains and in the opposite direction, twenty minutes from the warm beaches of the Pacific Ocean. How often do I partake in those activities? Rarely. Sad I know. So one of the things that I try NOT to take for granted is the close proximity to one of my favorite things on this planet. Film.  Just minutes away from my home are the motion picture studios that have created some of the greatest cinematic adventures of all time. So whenever I get the chance to visit the studios I’m quick to respond. One of my favorite studios is one of the oldest working in existence, Paramount. Through those historic gates walked legends of the filmmaking world. Names like Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille come to mind. However, Wednesday night I was there to see and listen to a couple of living legends in the form of Directors James Cameron and Michael Bay. Not only have these men created the top two highest grossing films, respectively, for Paramount Studios, their mark on the current cinematic landscape won’t soon be forgotten.

Paramount Studios and The Hollywood Reporter sat these two men down for a conversation about the future of 3D filmmaking and HeyUGuys was there to capture every moment.  I know that you really want to know about the 15 minutes of “Dark of the Moon” footage we saw, but before I do that (and I will, in great detail) let me bullet-point some of the great conversation moments from this hour-long event:

  • Moderator Jay Fernandez (THR) opened the conversation up with a clip of Michael Bay’s acceptance speech at the 2009 ShoWest Convention, calling 3D a gimmick.
  • Bay visited the set of “Avatar” and quickly realized what a nightmare it would be for him to shoot in 3D “Cables everywhere…looked awful” Bay finds beauty in being able to touch actual film and hates the way digital looks. However, he found shooting on 3D to be extremely enjoyable.
  • Bay told a story how on his first day on “DotM” he was having a blast with the 3D cameras and figured that production was going to be great, until he got a call on day two saying they had lost all of day one. (Digital footage is stored on hard drives leaving them vulnerable to crashes and the like) Needless to say he wasn’t thrilled.
  • Dark of the Moon was filmed in a “transitional period” for 3D cameras and rigs. New technology was being invented but was very “glitchy” and a nightmare for Bays team to work with.  Cameron jokes that shortly after production on “DotM” ended, all the issues had been fixed.  However, after this experience Bay calls 3D a fun tool or “toy” to work with to tell audiences an interesting story. “I had a blast”
  • Bay hired Camerons “Avatar” film crew to manage the cameras and they convinced him that he could only complete 10 shots per day with the heavy equipment. Bay generally shoots 50-60 shots per day and said that 10 just wouldn’t fly.
  • Bay discusses that the more intimate shots in “DotM” were his favorite to shoot and that the most difficult thing to film was just about everything else.  With his frenetic style he couldn’t pan too quickly or it would blur, the rigs forced him to take his time with shots and he eventually had to dial back some of the 3D when he knew it wouldn’t translate.
  • Cameron talks about how shooting 3D for green screen and shooting 3D in the real world are two very different animals.  He applauded Bays work on “DotM” and thinks it’s the perfect project to push 3D forward.
  • Both filmmakers call post converted 3D films “Bullshit” (this seems odd since yesterday they announced Titanic was to be re-released in 3d!) and claim that they hurt the forward motion of 3D as a legitimate medium in which to tell stories.  Bay states that if you are going to spend the money to do bad post-converted 3D, why not spend a few more bucks and film IN 3D. Bay stated shooting IN 3D currently adds an additional $30-50 million to a films budget.
  • Cameron chatted about how one of the main problems he’s currently having is with the theater chains.  They need to be willing to spend money on brighter bulbs.  “They buy the bulbs but then use half the energy to save money” The audience is then left with a sub-par and dark image.  (Many of you remember that Cameron created 18 different versions of “Avatar” to correct that issue.)
  • When asked about a 4th “Transformers” film, Bay joked that “I can’t say since we’re here at Paramount” but continued with a simple “I don’t know”
  • Cameron compares the current state of 3D to the car industry of the early 1900’s and says “There is nothing you can’t do digitally, it just comes down to time and money” He confesses that he hasn’t shot on film since 1997 and has no intention of returning.


I feel that’s a pretty good representation of the conversation between these two titans.  I am convinced that between Bay’s vision and Cameron know-how, we are going to see something amazing on screen when “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is released.  The highlight of the night, of course, was the close to 20 minutes of footage screened just for us.  We caught a glimpse of the opening sequence of the film, the new 3D trailer, (which will be attached to prints of “Pirates: On Stranger Tides”) a montage of money shots and the extended wing-suit scene (part of which we have here). I have described in detail, along with my reactions to the footage, below.

Note: If you want know nothing about Dark of the Moon, don’t read on. If however you want to know certain bits…. go right ahead!


The opening starts with the iconic Paramount logo as it always has, we track the stars as they form up around the mountain with those iconic metallic sounds accompanying them. The camera then pans into space as we get a Voice Over of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen reprises his role).  He’s talking about how the Autobots were a peaceful race and that war ravaged Cybertron. As his speech continues, we get the first glimpse of the shear scale of this film.  As the camera pans around Cybertron, you see hundreds of fighting Decepticons and Autobots. We get a glimpse of not only the humanoid robots we’ve come to enjoy, but a great deal of animal bots as well.  We begin tracking a jet very closely as Optimus continues his voice over about how the Autobots were outnumbered and their last hope of survival was aboard this ship. The ship is massive and houses many Autobots fending off attacks from Decepticon jets. However, when the camera pulls away from the jet we take in the sheer size of the planet and its metallic inhabitants. It makes the jet and its enemies seem tiny in comparison.  The jet makes one final push to leave Cybertron just as a Decepticon missile is fired. The missile breaks up into 5 smaller missiles that track the jet as it spins and rotates, leaving us with this beautiful shot of a lone jet amongst the stars and a column of fire and destruction twisting right behind it. The missiles hit their mark and the jet is destroyed. That jet would eventually crash land on the moon (which you see in the trailer).  The next scene is a NASA control room as we discover that the US has been tracking this object falling to the moon.  It’s brought up that Russia has also been tracking the object.  The Great Space Race is born.  We are then treated to a great little mix of actual historical footage of Kennedy talking about landing a man on the moon and a digital re-creation of JFK in the Oval office…think “Forrest Gump”.  It actually looked great.  We learn that the motive to land a man on the moon actually had to do with these autonomous robotic organisms.

The next 10 minutes or so we were treated to a montage cut specially for us.  We get a look at a great many new robots and the sheer scope of the film. Bay is pulling no punches on this one. The shooting style is very unlike Bay, which I think serves the film much better.  The fast and furious way in which Bay shoots would have been a small disaster in 3D and while I think Bays signature is all over this movie, the 3D camera rigs forced him to stay on shots longer, giving us some breathtaking moments. One such moment, which you’ll see a bit in the new trailer in front of Pirates this weekend, is this spectacular slow motion action shot of bumblebee and Sam.  Sam is in the passenger seat when it’s required of bee to begin transforming from car to robot to defend them both. He throws Sam out of the car as he’s transforming. As bee locks into robot mode, he simultaneously tracks Sam, swats away debris and fires off a couple shots. As Sam begins to fall back to the ground, bumblebee transformers back into a car grabbing Sam and placing him back into the passenger seat.  Sam’s reaction when it’s all over is priceless. The scene plays out a lot like a Zach Snyder moment but is on a whole different level. As a Transformers fan, this is one move I’ve been waiting to see and Bay delivered.

The highlight of the night, I think for everyone looking for some awesome visuals, came in the form of the wing suits jumpers. During the discussions Bay admits that he had seen these men flying down mountains and told his people to “get those guys in my office now, I’m writing a scene for them in my next movie!” The newest trailer has a longer glimpse at these daredevils flying through the buildings in downtown Chicago, but we were treated with what seemed like the entire sequence.  Let me tell you right now that I don’t remember breathing at all during this scene.  Bay strapped a 3D camera to the helmet of the lead flyer as they plummeted through the city.  We get a few close ups and a few shots from afar that show you how small these men are in contrast to the skyscrapers and the robots that dwarf them.  The sheer depth of the 3D in this scene is awe-inspiring.  I’ve never felt like I was in a film more then during this moment.  It’s a moment I would warn people who are afraid a heights that they might get a bit uncomfortable during this sequence.  It’s hard to describe but I’m telling you right now, that scene alone made up for the flaws in “Revenge of the Fallen.”

Whether you’re a fan of Bays or not, you’ve got to give this guy some respect for doing something with this technology. Not since “Avatar” have I seen 3D used in such a positive way.  This film is reaching for the stars and I think it might just pull a few down.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is released in the US and UK 29th June.

Ezequiel Gutierrez is the editor for and Host of The Film Geeks Podcast.

On twitter @ezgoo