Michael Bay Reveals How 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' Was Shot in 3D

Michael Bay

The director, along with James Cameron, discuss 3D technology at an event co-hosted by Paramount and THR.

Michael Bay — whose action style is known to include fast cuts and kinetic cinematography — admits his passion for the anamorphic format and Panavision film cameras.

But Bay stated that he is now also “in love with 3D,” during a conversation with James Cameron on Wednesday at a packed event at the Paramount lot, co-hosted by the studio and The Hollywood Reporter.

Urged by the Avatar helmer, Bay decided to make Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D. Most of the film was shot using Cameron-Pace Group’s 3D Fusion camera rigs, and the director also worked with Avatar crew members.

STORY: Michael Bay, James Cameron Talk 3D, Preview Impressive 'Transformers' Footage

“It was fun; it was like a new toy,” Bay said, though he also acknowledged, “it is not easy shooting 3D.”

In the configuration used on Transformers — the Fusion rig with Sony F35 cameras — each rig weighed roughly 28 pounds and was put through it paces on location with Bay.

While known for his ambitious action sequences, Bay admitted that when it came to the use of 3D, “I love the intimate shots,” citing as an example the close-ups of Bumblebee.

Cameron explained that the amount of 3D can be controlled, and so for fast sequences, filmmakers can “dial back” the 3D.

As to the size of the camera system, Cameron related that following Bay’s start of production, lighter-weight cameras have become available — and more are on the way — that will help to reduce the weight of the rigs. “We are working to make the cameras smaller and more robust,” said Cameron, who suggested that 3D production is still in its infancy.

Bay admitted that “good 3D” is expensive and added roughly $30 million to the Transformers budget. Cameron was quick to point out that the studio, however, now stands to make significantly more revenue from the higher 3D ticket prices.

Bay cited areas of added costs, including production equipment, labor, and visual effects, where more work is required. There was also a 2D-to-3D conversion budget to make the film “technically perfect,” as well as for shots that were lensed in film.

“It is a little more warm when you shoot native 3D … you can do beautiful conversion,” Bay commented.

The director however warned against quick conversions and improper use of conversion. “Some are being turned off because it is BS 3D,” he said.

To that point, Cameron added, “3D is getting people back to cinemas, but we are abusing it.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Jay Fernandez moderated the discussion.