“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth film in of the Hasbro franchise, is finally coming to theaters this June 27. I had the chance to speak with Patrick Tubach, the Oscar nominated Visual Effects Supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic — American Academy-Award-winning visual effects company founded by George Lucas — who told us why audiences will want to watch this film, how the robots come to life, and how ILM is pushing the envelope on visual effects.
Mariana Dussan (MD): Can you tell us a bit of how and why Industrial Light & Magic acquired the rights to do the visual effects for “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
Patrick Tubach (PT): In Industrial Light & Magic we have a history and a reputation in the industry having worked on the “Star Wars” films and being created by George Lucas. We’ve worked on all of the “Transformers” movies and Michael Bay is a big part of the ILM history now having brought all of these films through us, so being able to work on this film is a bit of a continuation of that relationship, [which is] what makes him want to keep coming back to us.
(MD): Since ILM has worked on all four films, can you tell us how “Transformers: Age of Extinction” will be different? Are you guys pushing the boundaries in any way when it comes to special effects?
(PT): Absolutely, I know it sounds like I’m just making up a fact when I say that it’s bigger, but this movie really is bigger in every possible conceivable way. We’ve done more shots, and bigger shots, and denser shots (dense is a term we like to use around here because there is so much in every piece of this film and every sequence is packed with visual effects, action, and explosions, and all of the things that people have come to love about Transformers).
(MD): Can you tell us three special effect secrets that will bring audiences running into the theaters on June 27?
(PT): [First],the Dinobots are something people have not seen before and I have no doubt that that is going to be a huge draw for people…[they] are something we spend a long time on and feel very near and dear to our hearts. [Second], I think, just seeing the continuation of the relationship of the robots and the humans, and there are new characters in the film that people haven’t seen before. Every time we introduce a new character and new transformers [audiences wonder]: “what are these characters going to be like?” Maybe the last thing would be, in previous films we’ve destroyed Chicago and we’ve had all of these major and epic battles, I know people are going to want to see what is the next level of action that Michael can bring and what ILM can do and that is something we’ve been very cognizant of.
(MD): Well, and do you think that you guys managed to top yourselves?
(PT): Yeah, I absolutely do. All of us were just talking today about how this is one of those times where you’re looking at the work you’ve completed and it was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but well worth it, the work showed on the screen.
(MD): How do you guys go about brining life to the robots?
(PT): Michael and the writers have the concepts of how these guys are going to look and then what comes to us is some art work from the production designers. When it gets into the hands of ILM it really becomes about those details…what’s his attitude going to be? How is he going to walk across the screen? Does he have a particular part on him that does something special and is related to his other form (because obviously transformers are vehicles and robots)? [Basically] what are we going to make him come to life because no one is going to be happy with just a boring cartoon version of it, they want the hyper real, super stylized Michael Bay version of this character.
(MD): You’ve been in the industry since 1999, time during which films like “Toy Story,” and “The Matrix” became pioneers in visual effects. Now 15 years later, are you guys working on what will wow audiences next?
(PT): I think that we are always working on taking visual effects to the next level and sometimes is not things that show directly on the screen, sometimes it’s just working on our technology to make this process go faster so we can bring people more stuff quicker and makes it easier for story tellers to tell their stories. [At the same time] the stuff that we’ve created [in this film], I don’t think that people are going to feel like they’ve seen this level of visual effects before, so that’s the big takeaway.