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Dear Projectionist...
June 27, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

A letter by director Michael Bay helpfully advising projectionists the proper way to show his new film Transformers 3 in movie theaters and a very grateful response from the Projectors' Guild.
posted by Renoroc (102 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was a projectionist, and though the snarky reply is viscerally satisfying in a way, having more information about how best to display a new format of film is really pretty helpful information.
posted by xingcat at 7:43 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would admire the response more if it wasn't from "Carl Fake".
posted by awfurby at 7:43 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't the projectionists be happy about this? Maybe with the studios pushing them, management will leg them actually purchase the proper lamps for their projectors instead of saving a couple bucks and making the films look murky.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:44 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was curious as to what these "6-foot lamberts" were in Bay's letter. Then I figured out that he should have written "6 foot-lamberts" instead. Messing up on the technical lingo is sure to win over those projectionists.
posted by thecjm at 7:45 PM on June 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Theaters still have projectionists? I thought, what with the recent digital 3D fad, that the manager just turned a tap in the office and crap dribbled out.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:47 PM on June 27, 2011 [26 favorites]


having more information about how best to display a new format of film is really pretty helpful information.

I've never been a projectionist, but IT'S A MICHAEL BAY TRANSFORMERS MOVIE. Is there really a best way to display it?
posted by Huck500 at 7:52 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


"congratulations are in order for making a movie based on a children's toy that's ten minutes longer than 2001." That's gonna leave a mark.
posted by Gilbert at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


The lamberts in my local theater are only 5-foot-8. An outrage!
posted by hattifattener at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there really a best way to display it?

crunked, presumably.
posted by elizardbits at 7:54 PM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Where did he get the idea that the projectionists are responsible under-spec lamps? Untrained projectionists aren't the problem. Cheap scrounging cinema owners and management who think the place to cut costs is on the equipment that shows the damn movie is the customer is paying for one of the problems. The other one, possibly, is cheap scrounging cinema owners and management too cheap to hire a projectionist in the first place, so the guy who fills the popcorn machine and sells the popcorn out of it has to set up the equipment in like 12 theatres. Which he may not even have time to do.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is no oral history of Michael Bay, I tell you what.
posted by item at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a letter from Stanley Kubrick to projectionists on how to show The Shining.
posted by bradbane at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Previously, sort of. Seems to me we have a cinematic problem not unlike leaving the toilet seat up, which seems plausible considering the projectionists' demographic details shared so eloquently by Mr. Faux. But never fear, here comes Mr. Bay with his brand new 6D HD Bay-bidet or whatever. To extend the metaphor, the content is still going to be poop.
posted by obscurator at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2011


(Argh, sorry I meant Barry Lyndon....)
posted by bradbane at 7:56 PM on June 27, 2011


Eh, Kubrick did something similar and we didn't hate him for it then.

Granted, he certainly wasn't making Transformers 3, so nevermind.
posted by ztdavis at 7:56 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The theater I worked at in high school just had a "START" button for each projector in the manager's office. A light flashed when the movie was over. I suppose some outside technician came every once in a while to load up all the spools, since I'm quite sure no one who worked there knew how to do it.

One of my most vivid memories is when the manager fell asleep inside his office with the door locked for two hours one Friday evening -- we had to give several hundred people their money back.

Also, one time the film caught on fire halfway through a movie. That's something that won't happen with these newfangled digital 3D setups. Kids these days...
posted by miyabo at 7:56 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The spellcheck really kills my suspension of disbelief.
posted by ODiV at 7:57 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Letters to projectionists including Kubrick, Lynch, Malick and Michael Bay.
posted by naju at 7:59 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Douchy to the max but in all seriousness, what the fuck is up with the super dark movies these days?

I saw a film at the Castro Theater last week - part of the queer film fest - and I thought they still had a union projectionist there but I could barely fucking see the screen?!
posted by serazin at 8:01 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Projectionists,
Please find enclosed a brick of mexican hash.

yours,
posted by boo_radley at 8:03 PM on June 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I can practically hear Gordon Cole's voice in that letter from David Lynch.
posted by ofthestrait at 8:04 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Please stop mentioning Kubrick in the same sentence as Michael Bay. Just... don't.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:05 PM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hello, I'm Michael Bay, director of Transformers, the greatest live action adventure saga ever to grace the big screen -

Dear Projectionist,

We worked very hard to make the greatest explosions ever witnessed in 3D - explosions and sequences that defy the viewer to get up and take a leak or get more popcorn. There are cars doing quadruple flips and things getting sliced in half at unbelievably high definition and slow motion that just takes your breath away; it literally will take people a few deep breaths to get through some of the slow motion takes in this powerful visual adventure.

It would be a shame if you projected this in a way that would make people hate the moviegoing experience and think about things like plot and dialogue - definitely not my strongest points.

So help us knock this out of the park. Help us make the studio millions so we can push for another installment of Transformers and thus help your business with another wave of fans at your theater and concession stands.

Long live the movie business!

-Michael Bay
posted by fantodstic at 8:06 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I find it kinda hard to give even a tiny scintilla of a damn about the thoughts, opinions, writings or, indeed, the very existence of a guy who makes movies about fake explosions and toys, and who has possibly the most regrettable haircut since Billy Ray Cyrus.
posted by Decani at 8:07 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Letters to projectionists including Kubrick, Lynch, Malick and Michael Bay.

I liked the Lynch letter. It was direct, simple and courteous. Bay's "we're all in this together" though, probably a bit much. And I saw Transformers. There was nothing about that movie the projectionist could've fixed. I'll never forget the first "Well at least the transformation sequence should be pretty cool to ... huh. So much for that then."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:12 PM on June 27, 2011


Isn't a "Guild of Projectionists" sort of like an "International Federation of McDonalds French Fry Operators, Convenience Store Night Clerks, and Sullen Girls Who Run a Register at Urban Outfitters?"
posted by Naberius at 8:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can practically hear Gordon Cole's voice in that letter from David Lynch.

Apparently I haven't watched enough Twin Peaks, cuz all I could think of when you said Gordon Cole was the guy who wanted to rent Gloria Swanson's car in "Sunset Blvd."
posted by ShutterBun at 8:13 PM on June 27, 2011


A letter from me helpfully advising projectionists the proper way to show Michael Bay's new film Transformers 3 in movie theaters:
Don't.
posted by kmz at 8:19 PM on June 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


I wonder why Lynch wanted the extra headroom for Mulholland Drive (one of my favorite movies). Really trying to think of a reason besides "we framed it wrong" and drawing a blank.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:19 PM on June 27, 2011


Oh and as previously mentioned, the spellcheck in the "response" makes me feel like this is 100% fake bullshit.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:21 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kubrick was talking to professionals on a professional level. The heads up about the cigarette burn miscues and that the second half of the movie is supposed to start with music over a black frame would have been very, very welcome, especially on the old reel-to-reel systems.

Adjusting the lamp luminance would have been trickier - those old carbon-arc lamps got two settings: off and SCIENCE! I think you needed an electrician and a tech from the projector repair company to do any significant adjustment on the lamp output. Most projector lenses don't have aperture stops, and are fixed full-open. Some of the ritzier places may have had faster or slower lenses, or ND filters, to account for different prints at different densities, but I've never heard of it.

The ratio part was to warn us this movie was wicked wide, and used every bit of it: people were gonna gripe if we tried to fill the screen by cutting off the ends.

Lynch was just warning us his sound guy was drunk on the job, and was nice enough to sign it.

Michael Bay has no fucking idea what a projector even looks like, and it comes thru in the letter.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:21 PM on June 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


I think the studios are getting very nervous about the 3d numbers of movies thus far this summer.

A larger and larger percentage of the movie going public is going with traditional 2d movies rather than the 3d fare. I think some of that has to is related to a shitty economy and the 3d movie being a $3+ upcharge but the dark and dinginess related to 3d movies is pretty atrocious as well.

Apparently when you factor in the glasses and the 3d process you go from an optimum range of 16 foot lamberts down to 3.5 on average. This new process promises to nearly double that quality.

I think that's going to be critical if people are going to be comfortable swallowing high prices. It definitely would've helped Pirates and Green Lantern which seemed ridiculously dark and grimy in 3d.
posted by vuron at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2011


turned a tap in the office and crap dribbled out.

It's not in the office.
posted by nzero at 8:29 PM on June 27, 2011


Dear Michael Bay,

As per your telepathic request, I have enclosed one (1) copy of my spec script entitled "My Little Pony and The Cosby Kids vs. The Voracious Titty Monsters From Sexula Prime (Live Action)(3D)". As you are no doubt well aware, the combination of childhood nostalgia and traditional Hollywood film-making is a recipe for explosions and possibly profits.

I would like to point out that the reverse gang-bang between Lady Deathblood McBoobula and the My Little Pony Assassin Squad might prove difficult to film, as the Ponies are all, to my knowledge, both female and quadrupeds. I suggest adding some explosions and CGI penises, or perhaps explosions in the shape of penises. Or perhaps merely add a waving American flag (CGI, naturally) to suggest intercourse.

If I can be of any further assistance to you, please feel free to send one of your dark daemons from the bowels of hell to whisk my soul from this creaking besotted corpse and fly myself into the depths of your foul lair.

Deceased,
posted by Avenger at 8:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


IT'S A MICHAEL BAY TRANSFORMERS MOVIE. Is there really a best way to display it?

For optimal viewing experience, please place your projector beyond the event horizon of the nearest black hole.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and in case you wanted to know what running the projectors was like during the time when Barry Lyndon hit the screen, check it out.

(Tho his loops through the sound head are a little on the large side, and the arc isn't terribly clean, and in need of tweaking - you gotta watch these things. One may introduce a warble to the sound, the other may result in a dim picture, or the rod burning down prematurely. Lots to keep on top of when running a movie.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dear James Cameron, et al.

Seriously, wtf is up with 3d? I saw Coraline in 3d and the only good bit was at the end when they were showing how they filmed the movie. Plus, wearing glasses to watch a movie is crap because the frames get in the way of the screen. Also, 3d gives me a headache. Furthermore, I can see the flashing frames in those active 3d glasses, which makes me go insane after a few minutes. Please film your movies in 35 mm or IMAX, like the Batman dude, Chris Nolan.

Sincerely,

Huck
posted by Huck500 at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually on second thought, Michael Bay might be able to explosion himself out of a black hole, and I don't want to find out what that would do to the fabric of the universe.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2011


cave of forgotten dreams made a lot of sense in 3d, glad he shot it like that even if it is one of herzogs worst movies
posted by nathancaswell at 8:37 PM on June 27, 2011


Isn't a "Guild of Projectionists" sort of like an "International Federation of McDonalds French Fry Operators, Convenience Store Night Clerks, and Sullen Girls Who Run a Register at Urban Outfitters?"

No, it really fucking isn't. People thinking it is really helps management justify hiring and equipment practices that lead to lousy viewings, however.

And y'know what? I'm gonna give this one to Michael Bay. After seeing the nth murky film because of dim bulbs, or seeing other various abuses of the equipment by overworked projectionists, I would not only like to see more letters like this, but I would like to see them publicly posted so that if a theatre fucks up, you have ammunition with which to tear the manager -- not other employees, projectionists or faux-managers -- a new asshole.

It will probably be a lousy movie, but he filmed it in 3D instead of doing that shit in post, wants it to look something like he intended it, and believes this is the best way to satisfy his audience. So it's all good to me.
posted by mobunited at 8:38 PM on June 27, 2011 [25 favorites]


Dear projectionists,

I'm going to ask you that we all "work together". This despite the fact that you are on the very end of a shit-chute that starts at a corporate office, and have no say in what happens in theatres. Also, I'd like to remind you that I make approximately 5 hojillion times more than you now and forever.

Also, you should do what I say or I'll blow up your cat.

In conclusion, Suck It.

Sincerely,
Another Of America's Great Mistakes....
posted by lumpenprole at 8:40 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Riki tiki: "For optimal viewing experience, please place your projector beyond the event horizon of the nearest black hole"
I think that is actually the origin story of the new Transformers. Way to perpetuate the cycle!
posted by boo_radley at 8:48 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa, 153 minutes of Michael Bay silliness in 3D. I'm getting a headache and feeling fatigued just reading that. Seriously, a movie called Transformers 3 should be no more than 87 minutes.
posted by jefbla at 8:54 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Projectionists,
Please find enclosed a brick of mexican hash.

yours,


Dear Projectionists,
Please find enclosed a brick.

About 15 minutes in, you'll know what to do.

yours,
...
posted by schmod at 8:58 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Douchy to the max but in all seriousness, what the fuck is up with the super dark movies these days?

They might not be removing the polarizing filter (be sure to read the linked articles in that blog post).
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:00 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


yeah, for all the Michael Bay hate I get the impression that he takes his craft seriously (like not willing to make a movie 3D in post) even if his goals are different from film-as-art. still not going to see Transformers 3 but if his letter can get his movie, and maybe even others, projected better, then more power to him.
posted by 6550 at 9:08 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem to be online at all, but there was also a letter enclosed in the cans with The Station Agent. It outlined a very specific scene, near the beginning of the film, which should be used to adjust framing. It had a picture and everything.

It's cute of Michael Bay to write the letter and all, but for all the reasons outlined above, ultimately useless.
posted by god hates math at 9:10 PM on June 27, 2011


How does one become a projectionist?
posted by BeerFilter at 9:11 PM on June 27, 2011


I wonder why Lynch wanted the extra headroom for Mulholland Drive (one of my favorite movies). Really trying to think of a reason besides "we framed it wrong" and drawing a blank.

Most of Mulholland Dr was shot for TV (1.33:1 at the time). It was released for theaters (1.85:1 minimum). Perfectly understandable that Lynch might be worried about headroom when the film was going to be matted that drastically for presentation!
posted by Joey Bagels at 9:14 PM on June 27, 2011


You all do know that the answer is fake, right?

I mean, besides the obvious giveaway of the "Carl Fake" name, there is no Projectionists Guild of America (there are projectionist unions, though). PGA is the Producers Guild of America, or if you are a golfer, the Pro Golfers Association. The PJGA is also the under-18 (Junior) golfer association.

The phone number is a 555, for heaven's sake!

And that address is bogus, too, with no E or W on Hoston, I'm pretty sure, though the New Yorkers here will be able to check on that.
posted by misha at 9:29 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure most know the reply is fake, but from the thread it looked like maybe it was in doubt.
posted by misha at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2011


All this hate for the Transformers movies makes me sad. That first one was better than I expected a film about robots from space that turn into lorries and horrible cars to be. Mind you, I didn't expect much.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:35 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


RE Lynch's note about extra headroom on Mulholland Drive, 35mm 1.85 prints were/are sometimes printed "soft matte" - not only if they're shot for television, as with Mulholland Drive, but in anticipation of 4x3 video releases and things like that (more info on this stuff on Wikipedia). Also sometimes they're "soft matte" for no apparent reason as microphones and tops of sets and such are clearly visible at the tops and bottoms of the frame. I have no idea what's up with that.

Anyway, what this means for film projectionists is that they may have to tweak the 1.85 framing up or down to make sure that people's heads aren't being cut off or whatever - this is what Lynch's letter is giving them a heads up about. It's pretty common with prints from around that time, but usually the adjustments are guesswork and eyeballing on the part of the projectionist!

What's really confusing is when you're projecting a print of something from that period between 1953 and 1960-whatever when widescreen productions were really common but academy ratio films were still not unusual and you have to figure out whether to project it academy or wide. There are even some films from this period where the question of correct aspect ratio is a matter of vehement argument!
posted by bubukaba at 9:49 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


The problem with the Transformers movies is they focus on the stupid humans too much. We have enough movies about people. We don't have a lot of movies about awesome robots that transform into stuff and roll out.

The cartoon didn't focus on the kids and the movies shouldn't either. They could also really use a scene where the Decipticons get drunk on energon.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, a movie called Transformers 3 should be no more than 87 minutes.

Still about an hour too long.

That first one was better than I expected a film about robots from space that turn into lorries and horrible cars to be.

Er, I don't think so.
posted by JHarris at 9:57 PM on June 27, 2011


I was curious as to what these "6-foot lamberts" were in Bay's letter.

Six-foot Lambert.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:58 PM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


How to display Teansformers: LOUD.

No, LOUDER.

A bit more .

Almost.

One more notch.

Ok, right there. Perfect!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:59 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stupid iPhone autocorrect.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:00 PM on June 27, 2011


Also sometimes they're "soft matte" for no apparent reason as microphones and tops of sets and such are clearly visible at the tops and bottoms of the frame. I have no idea what's up with that.

I still have a few frames of Get Shorty where the boom mics are visible in one scene. When you were in my theatre, you wouldn't see this because the aperture plate would be adjusted, masking the stuff you're not supposed to see. For this film, my suspicion is that it's for the benefit of projectionists who check in the film and are likely get the joke, as the book is about making movies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't a "Guild of Projectionists" sort of like an "International Federation of McDonalds French Fry Operators, Convenience Store Night Clerks, and Sullen Girls Who Run a Register at Urban Outfitters?"

Yes. Is there something wrong with that?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:16 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever a millionaire tells a $16k/year employee who can't get more than part-time work because the employer doesn't want to pay their insurance "We're all in this together," it's perfect motivational language, if your motivation is to have somebody burn down he theater and drive cross country to beat the crap out of you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:24 PM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


The hate on this letter is ridiculous and bizarre. Who gives a shit. The letters will probably be read by whoever makes decisions on the projector settings.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on June 27, 2011


I'm Ridiculous! He's Bizarre! And together we're...
posted by Trochanter at 10:56 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy
Oh, and in case you wanted to know what running the projectors was like during the time when Barry Lyndon hit the screen, check it out.


Thanks, that was pretty neat.
posted by Drewstre at 11:05 PM on June 27, 2011


On the one hand, Micheal Bay, while completely without merit in terms of artistic quality in his plots, still cares deeply about how his movies look. It's what he gets hired for and paid for. Moreover, the 3D process can lead to darkened prints, especially when it's done in post, (like with The Last Airbender though it seems that wasn't the case here. In any case, I'm not offended by him sending a letter to the people projecting the film (as it may even deserve to be called) reflecting his wishes for the best circumstances.

On the other hand, the Kubrick letter came from someone super-knowledgeable, who had made a film shot under unprecedented restraints (only natural light, including only using candles to light the night scenes, lenses ordered from fucking NASA in order to accomplish it.) This guy is an expert. Moreover, all of his tips were about things a projectionist would want and/or need to know. Bay, on the other hand, is a guy who uses Orange/Teal color correction and makes god-awful movies based on 80's childrens toys. And the one bit of potentially helpful information displayed a lack of understanding for the projectionist's craft.

So yeah, I'd scoff at it. Michael Bay is one of those people who doesn't hear scoffing in person nearly often enough.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:13 PM on June 27, 2011


Why didn't Michael Bay ask for all the other things that bother me at the cinemas to get fixed? Block mobile phones, improve parking, kick out chatters and gigglers, reduce ticket prices (!), trim all the commercials, serve beer at the concession stand, make it so there's not a bad seat in the house, etc., etc. He missed a real opportunity to improve our movie-going experience. Make the audience believe again.
posted by Metro Gnome at 12:07 AM on June 28, 2011


You all jest about toy tie-ins, but they're about to release the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots movie.
posted by Evilspork at 12:12 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


but...
posted by ODiV at 12:14 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Projectionists,
Please find enclosed a brick.


Dear Projectionists,
Please find enclosed a print of Brick. Once Transformers 3 is safely beyond the event horizon of a black hole, please show this instead.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:15 AM on June 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


You all jest about toy tie-ins, but they're about to release the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots movie.

Well, as the link makes plain it's based on a Richard Matheson story, and Matheson is for my money the O. Henry of SF. But after seeing the trailer I've a pretty good idea they sucked the heart out of it. I'd certainly bet money they changed the ending; but nowadays, for reasons I won't spoilerize, they probably don't have a choice.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:20 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


6-foot lamberts

Look, that's a figure everybody throws about, but it's important to remember that it's just an average. So, you know, half of them are even smal...actually, I'm pretty sure that I read some research saying it's really more like 5 or 5 1/2 foot-lamberts. No, forget I said that. Just...just forget about foot-lamberts altogether. You can still be a loving, expressive, talented projectionist with a smal...with a different screen. What matters is that it's your screen, and that's the only screen for me.

OK? Are we OK?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:40 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


After seeing the nth murky film because of dim bulbs...

Corporate has been called much worse.
posted by Splunge at 2:55 AM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear Michael Bay,

I thought it best to respond to your letter in language you could truly understand.

KA BLAM! BA-BA-BA-BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BA-ROOM! BA-BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! POW! POW! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOw! KA-POW, BLAm, BLAM, BLAM! SHHHHHH-KA! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

BLAM,
plinth
posted by plinth at 3:03 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


A Foot-Lambert is an American measure of reflected luminance, or how bright the screen is. Yes, it bugs the shit out of Europeans and scientists - modern reflected luminance is measured in candelas per square meter.

Here's how you can measure screen brightness with your DSLR or other light meter and an 18% grey card (not useful when the film's actually running.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:34 AM on June 28, 2011


plinth you forgot the slo-mo bouncing boobs.

disclaimer: i adore michael bay's stupid movies unironically
posted by elizardbits at 4:58 AM on June 28, 2011


Now I just want to forget about Transformers and watch "Lambert, the Sheepish Lion" again.
posted by Biblio at 5:02 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't go and see a Michael Bay film for the story, acting, character development or the message. I see a Michael Bay film because I expect a bombastic, ear-bleeding rollercoaster of dumb. That's the only thing anyone should expect from a Bay film. I don't wanna hear about the gravity discrepancies on the asteroid in Armageddon, or how predictable it is that there will be, without fail, at least two instances of someone diving in slow motion away from an explosion. Complaining about the "substance" of a Michael Bay film is like asking why your Big Mac doesn't taste like filet mignon.

Which is exactly why I hated the Transformers movies. The one thing I can always count on from Bay - the action - was pretty weak. Even stuff that should have looked cool, such as a giant robot digging into one of the pyramids of Giza, looked actually pretty tame. The pacing was tired and ponderous, and the transformation sequences were famously bad.

I don't know if he's resting on his laurels now or what, but it really felt like he squeezed those movies through a Michael Bay template, like Warhol having his Factory kids do the screenprinting for him. I don't fault him for making the kinds of movies he does - people should know by now what to expect, and they have the option of not buying a ticket - but I really think he needs to re-kindle his passion. Especially if he's serious about "making the audience believe again."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:14 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Michael Bay template
posted by elizardbits at 5:23 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to hear that the response is fake, because I wasn't entirely sure.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:17 AM on June 28, 2011


Isn't a "Guild of Projectionists" sort of like an "International Federation of McDonalds French Fry Operators, Convenience Store Night Clerks, and Sullen Girls Who Run a Register at Urban Outfitters?"

You really don't want to fuck with the IFMDFFOCSNCSGWRRUO.
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


You really don't want to fuck with the IFMDFFOCSNCSGWRRUO.

Look for the Union label,
When you are buying a Big Mac or pop,
Remember somewhere... a worker's toking,
Or out back smoking, or giving jelly donuts to a cop.

Oh sure we steal shit, so who's complaining,
Thanks to Congress we don't get that much for our pay.
So always look for the Union label
that says we're entitled to slack off in the U.S.A.!
posted by aught at 6:38 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: "Theaters still have projectionists? "

As far as I can tell, our local Giga-plex has exactly one for all sixteen screens. At least when the damn thing breaks, it seems to take ten minutes before anyone in charge actually notices so it's obvious that no one is actually paying attention to the movie as it's running.
posted by octothorpe at 6:39 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that address is bogus, too, with no E or W on Hoston, I'm pretty sure, though the New Yorkers here will be able to check on that.

I don't see an "E" (am I missing something?) but there is an East Houston (though not a West Houston, and its pronounced House-ton, welcome to New York!). There's even a pretty good theater on East Houston, though it won't be showing Transformers, I would bet.
posted by The Bellman at 6:55 AM on June 28, 2011


Oh wait, I see. No the part of Houston Street that isn't East Houston is just called Houston Street. The address is potentially legit. The rest of the letter is an obvious joke. And a pretty funny one.
posted by The Bellman at 6:57 AM on June 28, 2011


Also, why did Lynch want the audio to be played 3dB louder for Mulholland Drive? Was this a dynamic range thing, or what? Couldn't he just have recorded the film louder to start?
posted by schmod at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2011


As a 27-years-experienced professional projectionist, I see two things wrong with this:
1. Michael Bay has often sent this kind of patronizing letter out to theaters, there's nothing new here; and
2. I've NEVER heard of this "Projectionist's Guild of America" --- the ONLY projectionist's union I've ever heard of in the US of Canada is the AFL-CIO-CLC affiliated IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees); the locals are either Moving Picture Machine Operators (that's the older style, dating back to 1889) or Projectionists & Motion Picture Machine Technicians (new style).
posted by easily confused at 7:07 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


sorry: that's *US OR Canada*!
posted by easily confused at 7:08 AM on June 28, 2011


Yes, Michael Bay should demand that all theaters serve beer, since directors all want moviegoers to head to the restroom about eight times during their movies. That's a priority. It'll keep the giggling down at your average suburban megaplex as well.
posted by raysmj at 7:13 AM on June 28, 2011


Also, why did Lynch want the audio to be played 3dB louder for Mulholland Drive? Was this a dynamic range thing, or what? Couldn't he just have recorded the film louder to start?

Probably sound levels were done wrong post-production, so to rectify this, he asked theaters to turn up the audio a bit more. That, or simply recording it louder would not bring out the full effect he was looking for when played through theater speakers at the "standard" volume.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:20 AM on June 28, 2011


I don't care what the projectionist does, this re-fangled 3D stuff is too dark.
posted by rmmcclay at 7:23 AM on June 28, 2011


One reason the 3d lenses aren't getting changed out for the brighter 2d lenses is the odious drm restrictions on the projector itself.
posted by jefftang at 8:03 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what Michael? If anyone gave a shit about quality in the movie theater, they wouldn't be seeing Transformers 3.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:13 AM on June 28, 2011


153 minutes? I like explosions, bouncing boobs, and fighting robots as much as the next guy, but seriously, this is absurd.

Slap*Happy : Adjusting the lamp luminance would have been trickier - those old carbon-arc lamps got two settings: off and SCIENCE!

Damn it, this line totally damaged my brain and I can't stop giggling. Seriously, I'm drawing attention to myself here.

posted by quin at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, why did Lynch want the audio to be played 3dB louder for Mulholland Drive? Was this a dynamic range thing, or what? Couldn't he just have recorded the film louder to start?

Probably sound levels were done wrong post-production, so to rectify this, he asked theaters to turn up the audio a bit more. That, or simply recording it louder would not bring out the full effect he was looking for when played through theater speakers at the "standard" volume.


Doubtful that it was "recorded wrong" or mixed incorrectly in post. Everything is so heavily mixed and processed during the edit, design and mix, and audio recorded on set (production audio) is a very small part of the overall package. Malick asks for the theater to play his film louder too. It just hits better when it's louder. I've sound designed and mixed a few films and every time we premiere them the first 10 minutes of the screening is the director and I running around to find the theater rep so we can have the volume raised slightly. Even if you tech check earlier in the day, it sounds much louder in an empty theater than when you have 100 or 300 or a 1000 people filling the seats, rustling, coughing, etc. There's really no accurate gauge for that kind of subjectivity. So, we err on the side of louder. Better that the BIG moments hit big than feel too weak.

There are all sort of technical ways you can game this for theatrical release (monitoring at a slightly lower overall volume during your mix than is the standard for theatrical playback, so your mix is beefier), but you rarely have the ability to control the output (premieres, letters like these), so it's understandable.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:00 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT:



At about 2:24, Shia LaBeouf transforms into a competent actor for a few minutes, but you have to squint to see it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2011


Yeah, to build on what SmileyChewtrain says from the projectionist's POV - I don't know how they do it at the multiplexes, but at the art house type places I've worked at (where there's always someone paying attention to the show up in the booth) the sound levels are set by the projectionists just sticking their heads into the theater for 30 seconds to a minute and saying "yeah, okay, that sounds fine", which I suspect tends to bias us toward setting the volume softer than filmmakers might prefer. Having a print or a tape come with a note from the director that says "PLAY LOUD" is really psychologically helpful in going ahead and making it louder, because then you worry less about the little old lady types complaining about the deafening noise and worry more about the spirit of the director cursing you for not doing proper justice to their sound mix.
posted by bubukaba at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think some of that has to is related to a shitty economy and the 3d movie being a $3+ upcharge but the dark and dinginess related to 3d movies is pretty atrocious as well.

Wait wait wait wait wait. You mean you pay more for 3D movies?!
posted by mrgrimm at 2:43 PM on June 28, 2011


Right, of course... I always forget that Mulholland Dr was shot for TV because it makes such a lovely film. The headroom thing makes perfect sense now.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:51 PM on June 28, 2011


Yeah, I don't go and see a Michael Bay film for the story, acting, character development or the message.

What he said, except I stop at the word "film".
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:25 PM on June 28, 2011


I just wish a projectionist could somehow filter out JJ Abrams fucking lens flares. I liked Super 8 but the constant flares were beyond irritating.
posted by Ber at 4:35 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


International Federation of McDonalds French Fry Operators, Convenience Store Night Clerks, and Sullen Girls Who Run a Register at Urban Outfitters?"

You really don't want to fuck with the IFMDFFOCSNCSGWRRUO.


They might sic the Mak Attax on you.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:45 PM on June 28, 2011


Orange/Teal previously here.
posted by imperium at 12:26 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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