Michael Bay, 3D, and the will of the artist
Written by Sarah
Earlier this week Michael Bay sent a letter to the projectionists at movie theaters, imploring them to screen Transformers 3 with the 3D specs he specified. If you haven’t heard of this controversy: as 3D has gained popularity with filmmakers and audiences (though I would say that audience interest is waning), movie theaters have invested a ton of money into getting the newest and best in 3D technology—new projectors, new light bulbs, new lenses, special training for projectionists on how to operate the equipment. Yet, for all that, many moviegoers have complained about dark 3D prints, washed-out color, and an overall poor viewing experience.
At first people thought it was due to crappy post-production conversions, which does account for a lot, though not all, of it, but then it came out that many theaters were having 3D films projected at lower light levels than needed in order to conserve the expensive bulbs the projectors use. Next came the issue with 2D films having the same dingy appearance as the sub-standard 3D films and we found out that the 3D lenses many of the new projectors use (especially the Sony 4K) were being left on for non-3D movies because they’re too hard to change out and often require servicing by a professional technician to do so. (Tip: When the movie starts look over your shoulder at the projection booth. For a 2D film, you should see a single beam of light. If you see two beams, they’ve left the 3D lens on and you should complain to management because they’re f-cking up your movie.)
It comes down to this: theaters have invested a lot in 3D technology, but running that equipment to its maximum potential costs even more money and 3D isn’t actually bringing in THAT much revenue for the theaters. So they’re cheaping out on projecting the movies the right way in order to save on light bulbs, technician costs, and extra training for projectionists. Enter Bay and his letter. He’s basically begging the projectionists to suck it up and burn out their bulbs in order to showcase his fancy 3D movie. Which…I actually agree with him.
Michael Bay is a dick and a terrible boss, but he is an artist. We can debate the merit of that art all day long, but he has a particular vision and he’s done everything in his power to realize it to its fullest potential. How he wants that work to be displayed should be respected. As a photographer, decisions about matting, framing and hanging fall to me. I never give anyone a photograph that I’ve taken unless I’ve framed it myself. I don’t trust anyone else to do it right. And that’s basically what Bay is saying. He doesn’t trust the theaters to show his movie the way it’s meant to be shown. He wants them to respect his vision and display his art as he meant it to be displayed.
You know who else is writing to projectionists? Terrence Malick. He wrote a letter when Tree of Life came out listing the specs he wanted used for his movie and stated that “proper theater projection is fast becoming a forgotten art”. Did you ever think you’d see the day when TERRENCE MALICK and MICHAEL BAY were on the same side of an issue?
Attached – Michael Bay at the NY premiere of Transformers 3 this week .
Photos from Wenn.com