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Michael Bay’s Letter to Projectionists: Transformers 3

Apparently directors need to send letters to projectionists to get them to display their films properly..

Michael Bay has written one such letter in which he addresses the issue of 3D films having their brightness halved.

Those who have experience a 3D film knows the annoyance of the film’s image brightness dropping, due to the polarized glasses. Sometimes in dark scenes it is a struggle to distinguish figures. To tackle this problem Michael Bay has focused on the film’s brightness in post by specially grading the brightness levels to twice their standard level.

I just think, why hasn’t someone done this sooner!

Read his letter below:


46 thoughts on “Michael Bay’s Letter to Projectionists: Transformers 3

    • bobbob says:

      Thank you! Kevin clearly doesn’t understand how the industry works. Speaking as someone who works in the industry, generally speaking, the writers are some of the smartest people in Hollywood, but they have zero power and no one will listen to them. I’ve seen brilliant scripts (like “Wanted,” for instance) turned into total crap by spoiled brat directors and thickheaded “development” personnel. Sorry to disillusion the film school kids.

  1. matt says:

    The letter is interesting, especially considering the Kubrick memo to projectionists that has been going around recently, but the couple paragraphs before the letter are very poorly written. “To tackle this problem” is a dangling modifier. That sentence should’ve been, “Michael Bay intends to tackle this problem…” otherwise it sounds like the tough to distinguish figures from the last sentence are tackling the problem. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. Robert says:

    The last sentence is key! “Let’s make the audience believe again.” This gives it away. This letter is more about getting people back into the overpriced and underwhelming 3D theaters than lighting issues. The short version of this letter is: we know it’s a turd but let’s polish it maybe people will forget it’s a turd.

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  4. Dustin says:

    Dude, Terrence Malick JUST did this w/ tree of life. Leave these poor, minimum wage-earning projector boys alone.

    • Teh_Shard says:

      Terrence Malick is allowed to act like that. His movies are intensely visual. Michael Bay’s movies, on the other hand, are intensely explodie.

      But this is nothing new. I run a theater for a living, and it’s common for studios to include such instructions with the prints. Cars 2, for instance, included a small pack of high-gloss trading cards, two of them with lenticular holograms, with detailed presentation directions on the back of each one. THAT angers me. How freaking much money did they spend on that BS? I don’t want to hear the studios complain about “losing money to piracy” when they have no problem printing out a bunch of useless trinkets like that.

    • Never been here before, probably won't again, first, last and only comment says:

      And that’s the issue – minimum wage earning projectionists don’t care. They don’t see a cut of the film’s profit, 3D or not. They just do the same basic minimum required on every movie, because you get what you pay for

    • Judy says:

      Yeah, leave those stupid people alone. What makes you think you can criticize them just because they’re not doing their jobs?!

    • Never been here before, probably won't again, first, last and only comment says:

      At no point did Michael Bay use any gender specifics in his letter…

      • Fredrick says:

        Did no on see the giant .jpg at the top of the article? The one that clearly says “Dear Mr. Projectionist”?

  5. Jane says:

    He wrote this to try to convince theaters to show the movie brighter. Theaters, however, refuse to because it burns out projection bulbs. When you consider that this movie is likely going to be in theaters for a while, theaters are looking at a considerably large expense. This on top of the fact that ticket sales are down. If Michael Bay really cared about the audience, he’d pack the bulbs in with that letter.

  6. director101 says:

    The bottom line is that it’s still a movie based on a line of toys from the 1980s. The fact that Michael Bay thinks audiences should find something to “believe” in about all this makes me weep for the days when films were about characters and stories that we cared about ….

  7. Woody says:

    Got a similar letter from Jan De Bont re “Twister” when I showed that. He suggested projectionists “turn it up”

  8. Francios Guittierrez says:

    There’s probably only around 200 actual, employed, professional projectionists left in this country.

  9. Old School Projectionist says:

    You can’t really up the light levels of Xenon projection bulbs. Their wattage output is constant for new bulbs unless you have a malfunction rectifier. What you can do is make sure the reflectors are clean and properly adjusted to maximize the concentrated light output, and put new bulbs in the lamphouses you’re going to be running 3D films in — at least for the duration of the run. If you really want to project them correctly using actual film projectors, pair oversized lamphouses designed for twice the projected distance throw with water-cooled projectors… THEN you’ll see the film as the brightness level it was meant to viewed. I was finally glad to see a non-3D Avatar on Blu-Ray at the correct level of brightness. What a treat. But don’t expect theatres to invest in this kind of setup when the whole presentation process is in flux between film and digital.

  10. projectionist says:

    First of all, projectionists have very little to do with the dim picture problem. It has a lot more to do with garbage Sony projectors taking over most digital screens. Trust me, i know this first hand. Second, even on screens that have a decent projector (christie, or barco) the projectionist has nothing to do with the light output. A technician adjusts that, and he’s taking orders from someone else. In short: if you want this to change you gotta start voicing your concerns to the cheap, money-worshiping , blood sucking bastards running these theatre chains.

  11. My local, the bussiest in the country and the tallest in the world, has recently sacked all the projectionists and gone all digital, thanks lagely to 3D.

    And is proud to do so.

    I hope Michael Bay is proud of that!

  12. Dean says:

    Or, here is a thought, do away with 3D altogether, start rolling out MaxiVision 48 because it gives something that is actually an enhancement over current home theatre capability, and stop letting people like Michael make films that are exclusively for morons! Imagine!

    There is one film I know of that is older than my grandmother and is still looked on with such reverence that cinema experts virtually had an orgasm when they found missing pieces of it recently. It suffers this fate because it was intelligently made and had something to say that is still relevant in spite of the world having changed dramatically. By contrast, when the alien archaeologists find the remains of today’s society and see films like Michael’s, they will not know whether to laugh or cry.


  14. Cover the lens in butter sludge, projectors. Increase the brightness until it looks like god is sending a tractor beam out unto the audience. Picking up His children, transporting them from a rats on the floor theater, to a time and place where the projectionist is never wrong.

  15. theking says:

    What’s with the minimum wage earning projectionist talk? In Chicago they earn, depending on the day and the time, $100 per hour. That’s not a mistake – $100 PER HOUR.

  16. “If Michael Bay really cared about the audience, heโ€™d pack the bulbs in with that letter.”

    No, if Michael Bay really cared about the audience, he’d kill himself, kill himself now.

  17. NotAmerican says:

    1) People were commenting that Terrence Malick “just did this” with his latest film, Tree Of Life. Someone else replied that “Terrence Malick is allowed to act like that. His movies are intensely visual.” Just to clear things up, I saw “Tree Of Life” (on *OUR* National Holiday, July 1, aka Canada Day, aka this past Friday). There WAS a “cautionary note” on top of the poster – basically responding to Malick’s letter and informing the audience – that the **SOUND** of the film was not the projectionist’s fault.

    Specifically, the note said that they had recieved a letter from Malick telling them to set the volume levels at certain settings, and NOT to adjust the sound during the movie. So, “we apologize, but when the movie goes painfully loud, or so quiet that you can’t make out the dialouge, we cannot adjust the volume levels. We give our apologies; however, the filmmaker has instructed us to set the sound at one level for the entire movie.”

    Uh… so I guess my point is, a) Malick did his “letter to the projectionist” about sound, not visuals; and b) Malick undoubtedly did his “crazy sound fluctuations” ON PURPOSE, while Bay, as someone said, was just trying to make a turd a shiny, polished turd, in order to fool the audience.

    2) I *think* it was Martin Scorcese that would go to theatres where his latest film was being played, get out a “light measurement device” (yes, I don’t know the real, scientific name for it), and check to see if his movies were being played at the correct luminosity level. According to Rodger Ebert, Scorcese found that theatres were playing the movies 30-75% darker than intended, all to save the “wear and tear” on the thousand-dollar “projection lights”. (Yes, again I do not know the correct name. But it’s some interesting ish, no?)

    3) In the same Rodger Ebert book (“Questions For The Movie Answer Man”), Ebert prints a letter from a lady who said that she was in a multiplex, watching some John Grisham movie (or something), when the was started vibrating so loud that it was distractingly audible. Turns out Ebert had gotten many letters with the same complaint, looked into it, and found that multiplexes with paper thin walls would have “Twister” or “Jurassic Park” playing on one screen, and the screens that shared a wall with the “noisy movies” were experiencing said noise problems.


  18. Cassandra says:

    I’m a projectionist at a theater, and we actually just received a letter from David Yates for the release of the final Harry Potter movie. It’s actually pretty amazing. It’s got his signature to boot! It basically outlines how he considers projectionists to be the final member of their crew, and they hold key the way his final project is presented to the audience. It was pretty amazing. I’ve been a huge fan of the Harry Potter saga for years, and walking up into projection and reading that letter was a highlight for sure!

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  20. Watts says:

    This letter has no barring on theaters what so ever. The problem is that when these film makers decided on making their movies in 3D, all most all theaters cannot handle it, meaning it would cost millions of dollars per theatre to upgrade their systems to be capable of showing a 3D movie with the right lighting. You cannot turn up the wattage of a regular projection light bulb like you can a dimmer switch in your own home. It just doesn’t work that way. The film makers go the bright idea to make the movies in 3D to make more money, but neglected to take into consideration that many theaters in this country are not run by digital projectors, thus causing their 3D meal ticket to fail. Unless they cough up the billions it will take to upgrade the country’s projectors, 3D will continue to bomb.

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