'"The computer is the devil incarnate," says visual-effects guru Scott Farrar. "It wants to be perfect, and we're doing everything we can to blend this natural world back into the mix."
For the Oscar-winning Industrial Light & Magic veteran, working on "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was largely about getting it wrong.
"You wouldn't believe how mired we get into what aberrations of the lens should be seen," he says of using digital trickery on computer-generated characters to emulate the distortion of analog lenses that capture human performers and physical environments. Or in English, messing stuff up.
"The average filmgoer probably doesn't realize all the imperfections we have to create to make it look real - imperfect lighting, imperfect textures with lots of dirt, char and scorch; they're messed up."
Still, he insists in a suite at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, "Our work succeeds only because of the actors. The way Shia (LaBeouf) sells the shots is incredible acting. He's got nothing (to relate to); I'm over there with a pole and I'm being Jetfire in the desert or Optimus. ... These pictures fail if the acting isn't at a certain level."
Perhaps, but if LaBeouf doesn't deliver an Oscar-worthy performance, it's not likely to cost the reportedly $200 million film's box-office take the price of an Optimus Prime action figure. If Farrar and company don't deliver the awards-buzz goods with about 40 new robots and spectacular fight scenes, the budget might as well have been $500 for a camcorder and some plastic toys."