Edgelings

Transforming "Transformers"

TRANSFORMING ‘TRANSFORMERS’  by Scott Budman

From the giant server farm underneath the ground, to the computer where graphics whiz Shawn Kelly is admiring his work, the roots of the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen can be found not in Hollywood, but further north, in San Francisco.

It’s not news anymore to say that Silicon Valley technology is behind a major Hollywood summer blockbuster. In this case, though, try to find anyone who says they’re more excited about the actors in this movie, than they are about the robots. (Megan Fox fans, no disrespect, but you don’t count here, because I said “acting.”)

Kelly’s resume is full of fanboy-cool movie effects: War of the Worlds, The Day After Tomorrow, Hulk, and Star Wars (Episodes 1, 2 & 3). He’s the lead animator on Revenge of the Fallen, and has even started an online animation school called Animation Mentor.

“More epic,” is how Kelly describes “Revenge,” “everything’s bigger, the fights are bigger and crazier.”

He says this as we sit by his workstation at ILM, nestled in the tranquil surroundings of San Francisco’s Presidio. But that’s the only tranquil thing about this movie. The pressure’s on to make the sequel even bigger than number one: “It’s always exciting,” says Kelly. “It never gets old. All of us are passionate about this stuff. We love doing it.”

Kelly, who looks like he just graduated from college, says he’ll probably see the new movie with his mom. That’s nice. Meanwhile, how’s this for cutting edge: If you wanted to render “Revenge of the Fallen” on a typical home PC, you would have had to start 16,000 years ago to finish in time for today’s premier.

When you see the new Transformers, you won’t have to take time to think about how all this technology went into making the awesome effects. You’ll be bombarded with them from the get-go. Just sit back, enjoy, and wait for the credits. When “ILM” rolls by, people here in the Bay Area will be cheering.

[For more Scott Budman tech stories, please visit www.nbcbayarea.com]