Michael Bay Also Criticizes Post-Production 3-D Conversion

March 25, 2010

Michael Bay

We know James Cameron's Avatar has ushered in the next big trend in Hollywood whether you enjoy it or despise it: movies in 3-D. However, there's much dissension in the industry beyond their like or dislike of the trend and moreso regarding the quality of 3-D presentation for these films, as many studios have taken a route different than Avatar, and opted to convert films to 3-D in post-production rather than shoot them in genuine 3-D. As the pioneer of modern 3-D, Cameron has been more than vocal against shoddy imitation 3-D, but this time it's Michael Bay slinging the mud at 3-D conversion, which he says "kind of sucks."

Back in February we heard that they were testing scenes in 3-D for its potential use on Transformers 3. Bay was waiting to see how the process worked with his footage, but he didn't sound all that optimistic. Deadline ran some quotes from Bay and it sounds like he may be even more opposed to it now. The general consensus from both Cameron and Bay is "the jury is out" on 3-D conversion, but the Transformers director had plenty to say about his worries of 3-D conversion working with his intense, rapid shooting style. Bay explains:

“I shoot complicated stuff. I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process. I am trying to be sold, and some companies are still working on the shots I gave them. Right now, it looks like fake 3-D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice.”

The man is right on the money. You can tear apart his plots, hyperactive shooting style and more, but when it comes to action and precision on set, he knows his shit. The one consistent thing I've heard from cast and crew talking about working on a Michael Bay movie is how much he pushes them to the limits, moving very quickly, with complicated set pieces, action choreography and more, all while doing double the number of setups in one day than most movies do in three days. Michael Bay is a machine who needs Grade-A premium fuel, and he doesn't feel he's getting it with 3-D conversion:

“I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3-D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not.  Avatar took four years. You can’t just shit out a 3D movie."

And as I've already recently expressed my worries with the cost-to-profit ratio of spending millions on post-production 3-D conversion for a film that may only be in 3-D screens for a week or two at most during the blockbuster or holiday movie season, Bay says the cost is much more than the industry has actually let on. The number that has been going around the media as to the cost of 3-D conversion is an estimated $100,000 per minute, but Bay says it's more like $120,000 to $150,000 per minute, which means at most, conversion for Transformers 3 would be $30 million. That's more than the entire budget of some films.

While I like the idea of 3-D becoming the next big thing, I'm not supporting it as long as studios will just be converting films in post-production. Studios will be attempting to use 3-D as a crutch and afterthought to try to fill seats for what may already look like a terrible film. I refuse to support a process that attempts to make 3-D a substitute for great direction, writing and acting, because if we continue to allow ourselves to be mesmerized by the visual trick in front of faces that acts as a pop-up book as opposed to a motion picture with depth, then we'll lose any of the technological ground James Cameron and Avatar may have gained.

Find more posts: 3D News, Editorial, Opinions



I'm sorry, but this whole 3D thing is utter crap. I saw Avatar in IMAX 3D, and more recently, Alice in Wonderland in 3D (The only 2 I've ever seen in 3D). I won't bother to see a third. I feel like the image quality suffers on 3D productions, for one thing. The IMAX glasses were huge and uncomfortable, and the entire thing just feels totally cheeseball and gimmicky to me. The only time I would consider myself 'impressed' during Avatar was when there were a few scenes that had burning embers falling, and another that had ashes falling. That had a 'neat' factor to it. But that was it. And Alice in Wonderland was totally goofy when it came to 3D. I'm just not convinced that 3D tech has matured enough at this point in time, and I just feel like it detracts from the whole experience. If a film is good enough, it just doesn't need 3D. But I guess the industry just needs something to keep raising ticket prices (and now TV prices).

Kevin on Mar 25, 2010


Well he doesn't sound like the smug wanker I imagined, and although I understand his opinions with the conversion of 'movies' into 3D, it doesn't really make much sense coming from him. Since I reckon this might be some sort of trick to shake up the disease (that is currently taking hold of American cinema) that is 3D. If you can't shoot in 3D then don't shoot in 3D and if your not happy with converting into 3D then forget about 3D, because no one will miss it. Also even when I think about it I don't believe that it would cost THAT much to convert a film into 3D, thats a huge bloody gamble and I just find it hard to believe that in the ultra capatilist realm (if you will) that is Hollywood that they would do that at this point in time.

DiR3cT on Mar 25, 2010


2d or 3d I'm still not watching Transformers 3. So what is so technically precise about your movies again? Devastator's testicles? His producers are going to force him to convert the thing in 3d and then his statements are going to comeback to bite him.

almartva on Mar 25, 2010


Well said, Michael Bay. I completely agree.

Josh on Mar 25, 2010


@1 I thought Alice 3D was done in post production? can anyone correct me on that? Avatar in 3D was spectacular though.

ray on Mar 25, 2010


I'll be the first to condemn any piece of crap that Mr. Bay makes, but the man has a point. For once something noble was said and I for once whole-heartily agree with him.

Sergio on Mar 25, 2010


funny Bay is praising Cameron's after all the crap that Cameron has said bout Bay's movies in the past(Comic Con 2009 Panel) but I definitely agree this post production 3D process is turning into a joke....it has to be done right the first time to have the added value. I'm not sold on watching Clash of Titans in 3D

monal on Mar 25, 2010


@5 Alice was a post production convert. A Michael Bay film shot entirely in 3D, like Avatar, would be amazing. Say what you will about his films he KNOWS how to shoot action.

WB Exec on Mar 25, 2010


I agree with Bay. Ever since Avatar did so well Hollywood is now saying any movie with large action shots needs to be 3D. (can you say gimmick.) This is a bad idea. Like Bay said Avatar was shoot in 3D it was cool but the picture did look cheesy in some shots. If the film is post 3D it will suck for sure. I won't lie I enjoy Bay films because when you go see it you know what your getting into and if you bought the ticket don't put down a film for the story when you know you went to see the giant robots kick ass. (It was fun)

600RR on Mar 25, 2010


Would you watch a dude taking a dump for an hour in perfectly awesome 3D ? Cause it feels like thats what they sprout out nowdays in every single 3D movie. Story ? What story ? Look at the 3D sausages and the awesome graphics of the toilet chair......

Shige on Mar 25, 2010


Would you watch a dude taking a dump for an hour in perfectly awesome 3D ? Cause it feels like thats what they sprout out now days in every single 3D movie. Story ? What story ? Look at the 3D sausages and the awesome graphics of the toilet chair......

Shige on Mar 25, 2010


Where does Michael Bay get off criticizing other films and filmmakers? His movies suck and are the cinematic equivalent of twinkies and other trashy food. 2 hour action orgies hardly count as art. Transformers 2 was so stupid I'm ashamed to say that I actually saw it. I will never watch his crap again and for him to comment on others is hilarious.

Geoff on Mar 25, 2010


Dear Michael Bay, please don't screw up Transformers 3, thank you.

andrew on Mar 25, 2010


Chill out to all the Michael Bay haters. His films have NEVER EVER lost a single penny, and before you all say they suck, people do enjoy them. Everyone keeps going on and on about all the Oscar nominated films that as far as I am concerned are BORING as hell. The Cohen brothers get all this hype but they could never film on a large scale like Bay does. His films have an audience, and they are not stupid or moronic, they are just people looking for a fun entertaining movie.

WB Exec on Mar 25, 2010


@14 youre fucking right dude!!

judas on Mar 25, 2010


This is the same thing that happened in the 50's with the invent of 3D. It sucked then and was a gimmick that wore off. And will happen again. The difference though between filming in 3D and converting is pretty major. Alice was so weird. I saw it in both 3D and 2D and it was blurry, odd and not impressive visually. Although I enjoyed the movie itself and some of the performances. It's plainly just a gimmick the studios are using to get more ticket sales. I think it's quit sickening that great new film makers out there are scraping together money to try and make films we enjoy and studios are throwing cash around like we can just print more. Its just sad.

Bryanmakeup on Mar 25, 2010


yo michael bay i agree with you i don't want transformers 3 in 3d it will be a rubbish film if it was in 3d i won't see it in 3d at all so if i were you stick with filming it in 2d it is better in 2d than that crap 3d so good luck michael bay with transfromers 3

Ciaran Bradley on Mar 25, 2010


i enjoy bay's films cuz of the action. i love storyline in a movie, but i kno that if im gonna watch a bay movie, its gonna be action and comedy. two of my favorite movies is from him. bad boys 1 & 2. and transformers is jus plain out action. he has launched careers of some individuals in the business cuz of his films... think about it. but he doesnt have a storyline, but ur not going to watch his movie for the story most likely, u gonna see it for the action. plus if you dont like him so much, dont watch his movie. jus sayin... but im also not saying that i think he is great or anything or ever gonna win best director cuz he wont, but for action movies, he knows his shit...

KING on Mar 25, 2010


@14 - people also eat a ton of fast food. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's quality. It just means most people settle for crap.

Geoff on Mar 25, 2010


Comment #1 reminds me that ~10% of the population have problems with color in one form or another, and it seems that a similar (perhaps greater) percentage have problems discerning the 3D effect at all. Likewise, his glasses crisis will be handled soon by the several companies showing stylish, face fitting glasses at ShoWest. Perhaps his comment that 3D tech hasn't matured enough is the only valid one. But it doesn't make Bay's snark about part of the process being moved to India correct, just because he's never met any A-list Indian graphics people. Let's face it; dimensionalization is just a tool, like using color and sound and stereo and gas bombs to make explosions that sometimes look real in motion pictures. I can just imagine someone saying, "Just mix it in stereo since I kept production going to long to mix it to 5.1" What Alice has shown is that the movie has to give the post people enough time to do the work, or some shots will look 'layered' (because they were done quick and dirty by secondary houses) compared to other shots that look 'correct' (because they were done at the premier house which used what time they had on the 'hot' shots). So, to make Bay's comment look less like CYA and racism, one needs to see it all; he recognized that the process needs time, and trust. In fact, letting the primary house send some time-intensive parts of the process to a room of 100's or 1,000's of trained people to be then tweaked by the A-team is not inherently a bad idea whether it is a world away or on a different floor of their building. Not all shots need $150,000 a minute, and this process will help those which do and those which don't since it should give the director the level of choice and trust and capability to do things quicker. Notwithstanding, most of the target audience won't lose their suspension of disbelief, and some others will have noticed that it wasn't as nuanced as Avatar. (Myself, I won't go to the theater that I saw Alice in again, not because of the layered 3D or Depp's hyper-antics, but because they didn't have assigned seating and left the lights on for the 3D commercials.) The reality is that what Cameron did with Avatar is so far in advance that no one is going to be able to match it unless they have access to all that he discovered in the years before and while shooting Avatar, the equipment he developed and modified before and while shooting, and the incredible amount of Post work that was done to shape even that. Perhaps Spielberg/Jackson will get access to it, perhaps they will be able to make it work, and perhaps they can afford to spend extra months in post – but how many units is Cameron going to 'lend' the equipment to or who can afford to develop it themselves? And like Pink Floyd's Roger Waters pointed out decades ago, even with the same equipment, it is a rare group who can do so much with it.

DCineGuy on Mar 25, 2010


@19 That is like comparing apples to oranges. People do not die from watching movies people should know eating a high fat diet composed of burgers is detremental to their health. Now please come back with a valid comparison.

WB Exec on Mar 25, 2010


3-D should just be removed from cinema in general.

Xerxex on Mar 25, 2010


I watch Avatar last nigh in 'flat', it wasn't bad. I haven't seen it in 3d, but to be honest in old fashioned 'flat' it was just a sort of cheesy watch without thinking too much film. That is what Michael Bay makes are cheesy unbelievable action adventures, he should be well into 3d, it might add another level to his racist propaganda explosion porn films. Also no-one seems to have picked up on the fact that he has the actual A-team working on his post production, that's pretty cool.

Crapola on Mar 25, 2010


This 3D fad is going to burn out quickly. It works for some movies, but for the majority it's just a distraction.

SlashBeast on Mar 25, 2010


I love you Michael Bay! Do your thing, Transformers 3 will be awesome! <3

Lincoln on Mar 25, 2010


14 and other dudes: I don't have a problem with Bay's skills. The guy knows how to film an action scene--maybe better than anyone else. But does that mean his movies have to be so mind-numbingly dull? For all the time he spends shooting, and all the money he puts into his movies, is it so hard to bring aboard some half way intelligent people to work on a script that makes sense and means something? Yea, action movies are fun and all, but if you walk out the theater feeling nothing other than awe at the special effects, then the movie is not worth your time. We're at a point with entertainment that people (esp. kids) think going to the theater is a chance for them to turn off their brain for 2+ hours. When the truth is quite the opposite. To go with the food analogy: think of Bay's movies as candy. Sure you can stuff your face with skittles, but at the end of the day it won't sustain you. You'll just remain hungry and go eat more skittles. It is a relentless (and very profitable) cycle.

germs on Mar 25, 2010


#14 - That's not exactly true The Island was a bit of a disaster. You don't understand cinema clearly.

DiR3cT on Mar 25, 2010


#14 THANK YOU... 19 and 26...please, let us try to explain this to you guys one more TIME...we liiiiiiiiiike stuffing our face with candy...every ONCE in a while...we enjoy the Bay films...it is not like we want ALL movies to be Bay films...that is why there are DIFFERENT directors for almost every movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!! again...not ALL MOVIES are by Bay... I am sorry Bay did not do Transformers to your tastes, but the dude does Action right...

zeldaprimed on Mar 25, 2010


if you really wana see a movie in 3d take some acid man 😛 or shrooms but my fav are canibus brownies :} the 3d glasses are uncomfortable and they make watching the movies really sucky

DaftPUNKFAN on Mar 25, 2010


If you are going to do a 3 D movie do it with 3D cameras not Conversions there crap if Micheal Bay is not sold on the 3D Conversion well leave him alone to do a normal 2 D film, if Micheal Bay wants to do a 3D film of Transformers do it with the proper 3D cameras and pay him for doing it. But all in all I'm not a big fan of 3D rather see it 2D.

Cineprog on Mar 26, 2010


28: As long as you get your meats and veggies. 😉

germs on Mar 26, 2010


# 27 Please check your fact, the Island did not live up to expectations domestically, but it still almost made back the entire production budget. But in the foreign territories it played well and the film became more then profitable. It was his biggest financial failure, if you can call it that, to date. Lets put it this way if a CEO delivered profits consistently like Bay films, they would be lauded as visionaries and peopel would say they are great at what they do. It is just the internet gives people a voice and people use that voice in a very negative fashion. If you do not like his stuff do not watch it and do not reat articles on it. It is that simple.

WB Exec on Mar 26, 2010


@germs yeah buddy!!!! love me some carrots!!!

zeldaprimed on Mar 26, 2010


Bay films are retarded, shallow fluff. Until he learns how to do more than just film an action scene, I'm not caring for his unique brand of suck.

Governor on Mar 29, 2010


#12 calm down and have a Twinkie©

TediusTed on Mar 30, 2010


#14 - WB Exec And Bay could never make something as inventive with a well-told story and intriguing characters like the Coen Brothers. He's a shallow pyrotechnicican, not a filmmaker. It's philistine's like you that kill true art.

1-7 on Apr 12, 2010


^ Shut you mouth you product of incest. Bay and Emmerich are making millions ejaculating on the face of cinema.

Glass on Dec 17, 2010

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