How to handle scale issues in the "new storytelling universe"?

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Nathanoraptor, May 20, 2020.

  1. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Of the Bayverse designs, it seems that Starscream's is the most despised - for many reasons.

    Some hate it because it's a radical departure from previous incarnations of the character, others because it's ugly... Mostly because it looks like a kite with arms and legs and a head and missile launchers. So... basically very little like a kite.

    In my personal view, the arms and legs are too skinny and the face isn't expressive enough for a heavily emotive character like Starscream. Starscream needs a face where he can have a wide range of expressions - Soundwave and Shockwave do "inscrutable" well enough.

    Having said that, the design was an attempt to circumvent a logical issue with the original design; that menace that has plagued Transformers since the beginning... scale issues.

    The big problem with the Seekers has always been "how can they be the same height as Autobots they should logically dwarf?" Starscream turns into a fighter jet, which are, in real life, 19.4 m (63.8 feet) long. This would make his robot mode colossal in comparison to most Autobots; even a Peterbilt 379 truck is only about half that. To avoid this - and make it easier on the animators, because animating shots where CGI characters differ radically in size is an absolute NIGHTMARE - they concentrated most of his robot mode in his width and gave him shorter legs.

    Now, this doesn't really work - however, with the shift to a new design aesthetic, how will designs be adjusted to account for scale issues in the new storytelling universe. Here are some ideas for the Seekers:

    Idea 1: Roughly half the jet (the wings and the propulsion system) ends up on the back, creating a "jetpack" that is roughly the same size as the entire torso, cutting the height in half (from sixty feet in jet mode to thirty feet in robot mode... which would still be bigger than most Autobots). The Seekers all have Blitzwing's "gas mask face" to further the basic outline of someone in a flight suit.

    Idea 2: Most of the jet mode goes into the Seekers' arms, which are large, bulky and styled to look like bird/pterosaur wings. The body is thin in comparison to the wings and the legs are short and end in taloned feet, like an eagle. This means that most of the jet mode is going into the wingspan rather than the body.

    Idea 3: Say somewhere that Transformers can scan alt-mode templates and rescale them to fit their own size. In this case, there isn't a scale issue.

    I would heavily prefer Idea 2, because it gives the Seekers an "avian predator" look, rather than just a humanoid robot with a jetpack". Having large, pterosaur-style arm-wings would also fit Starscream's hammy, theatrical side, because he can gesture wildly with them.
     
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  2. MattDallas

    MattDallas Well-Known Member

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    That's what I never understood about the Bayverse Starscream - the defense for the ugly design was that it needed to transform that way to interact with the smaller characters. This made no sense, because the entire jet ended up pretty much being his body - wings and all. If it needed to be smaller in robot mode, surely it makes sense to have the jet completely fold up a few times resulting in a more compact robot mode.
     
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  3. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Or just give him longer, burlier arms.
     
  4. MattDallas

    MattDallas Well-Known Member

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    Yes - use some of the plane to make those, instead of just keeping it all on the body. Perhaps I'm just used to the 2007 Voyager toy (the only movie starsceam I have) that seems to just attach arms and legs to the jet mode retaining it's shape.
     
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  5. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave Softy Crime Lord

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    Visually pleasing designs > realistic scale

    I don't think scale should be a huge issue. According to the fan-made Bumblebee scale charts, that movie had the most cheats in scale and the worst scale continuity out of all the movies. Yet no one even noticed when they were watching the movie. Actually, those designs were widely praised, because they were visually pleasing.

    I appreciate that the Bay movies (especially the first one) took scale into strong consideration...but I honestly think it was ultimately a wasted effort, and mostly served to put unneeded limitations on the visual style. You don't notice it unless you specifically research it, which 99.9% of the audience won't do. To the naked eye, something as cheaty as Lockdown looks just as realistic as something as grounded in logic as movie 1 Optimus. Same with Shatter and Dropkick. The movie had two muscle cars morph into aircraft three or four times their size. And 99.9% of people didn't even think about it. As long as they can make it look convincing, that's what important. The aesthetic of the design should always take priority over real-world logic. And I think Bay realized this pretty quick. Even he dropped the extreme realism eventually. If Starscream had been designed in 2011, I think he would have looked a lot different.

    And it has an in-universe explanation. The Transformers are made out of metal that can compress and expand, and rearrange its shape, texture, and color. They obviously can't grow and shrink as much as the G1 Transformers, but there is still a lot of flexibility there. Those same rules seem to apply to the Bumblebee universe, albeit seemingly even more fluid than the Bayverse.
     
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  6. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Can the two not go hand in hand?

    I agree with you, but also... I don't. Part of the fun of watching, say, KOTM was how they took the outlandish Toho designs and rendered them in the context of real animal anatomy; in the same vein, it's fun in the MCU and DCEU taking the ridiculous comics costumes and making them look realistic.

    Half the fun of redesigning, for me, is taking these outdated designs and trying to make them fit in the real world, whilst keeping to the spirits of the originals. Sometimes, the aesthetic of the design and real world logic go hand-in-hand.
     
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  7. Honorbound

    Honorbound Well-Known Member

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    I've been grappling with this issue for my fancanon as well - just about every possible solution has some sort of drawback. As to your list of solutions, I like your second idea, the one with the elongated arms - it reminds me of Transmetal Terrorsaur and Beast Machines Skydive in concept. Option three, just accepting that the Decepticon Seeker alt mode isn't the same size as the real jet, could work, especially at the distances jets tend to operate at, but it makes scenes like in TF1 where Starscream blended in with the other F-22s an impossibility.

    My own solution draws on your second idea and makes him inhuman in design: he's got digitigrade legs taken from Movie Starscream, a tail emerging from his back, and a quartet of long arms. The arms on each side can swap places, allowing any arm to form pterosaur-like wings. As a side note, I really love the toy head design, where the nosecone emerges from the back of the head, and I'd love to see that incorporated as well, as a kind of xenomorph/BW Injector homage.
     
  8. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout ...and I'll whisper "No."

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    Scale is always something that ultimately is the first to go out the window when it comes to Transformers.
     
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  9. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 number one Bangles fan on the boards

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    Scale? Just repeat after me!

    If you're wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science fasts, (la la-la!)

    Just repeat to yourself, it's just a show. I should really just relax!
     
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  10. Honorbound

    Honorbound Well-Known Member

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    We know. This is an exercise in how we can make it work anyway, because the attempt itself might yield some interesting ideas.
     
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  11. Minibots

    Minibots Greetings

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    I don’t really think the scale should be a top priority. I never really minded it either. What should be a top priority is character development and good storytelling. I feel like that’s what should be worried about after the disaster that was TLK.
     
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  12. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave Softy Crime Lord

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    Although I would argue the MCU costumes aren't overly realistic. They make more of an attempt at realism than the comics, but there's still a lot of cheating going on. Spider-Man's suit has a lot of gadgets for something skin-tight enough to show his muscles. Iron Man doesn't appear to have any sort of fuel tanks. Captain America's bright red and blue uniform wouldn't be extremely practical for a soldier, who needs camouflage. Why does Hulk's skin turn green instead of just staying flesh color? You could create explanations for these (like saying Iron Man's suit requires less fuel), but that's no different than using the "alien metal" excuse for Transformers cheating. It's still stretching reality quite a bit.

    And I do agree that they should take scale into consideration. It would be silly to completely ignore scale, because it would become noticeable. I'm just saying I don't think they should be overly beholden to scale, like they tried to do with Starscream. It's never going to be possible to design a fully realistic Transformer. For one thing, most of them would be much smaller than people expect because cars are mostly hollow. The "rule of cool" has to take priority. The main scale concern should be making it look convincing to the average person's eye. Which is basically what Marvel does. Personally, I found Blitzwing just as convincing as Starscream, and they didn't have to make him triangular shaped.
     
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  13. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout ...and I'll whisper "No."

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    There are more important things than scale.
     
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  14. Honorbound

    Honorbound Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't mean that it's not a discussion worth having.
     
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  15. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout ...and I'll whisper "No."

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    It does.

    I'd rather have a good film with decent characters and designs, then a bad film with characters that nobody could give less of a shit about but they're "to scale" because of arbitrary nonsense that doesn't exist.
     
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  16. Autobot N

    Autobot N Wants a Legacy Sunstorm

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    I don't disagree with your main point, but the whole thing with Iron Man's armor is that it's powered by the Arc Reactor (which is still unrealistic).
     
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  17. Honorbound

    Honorbound Well-Known Member

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    There's no reason why you can't have both.
     
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  18. Bee Camaro

    Bee Camaro Well-Known Member

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    His body language was quite expressive though.

    They can, but what's visually pleasing and what's not is a matter of opinion.
     
  19. Galvatron1998

    Galvatron1998 Maximal

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    I would rather have a design not be compromised by scale to appear more aesthetically pleasing. While I can appreciate attempting Transformers scale in live-action movies, the average person is not going to look at a scale chart to make sure that the design can work in the real-world.
     
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  20. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout ...and I'll whisper "No."

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    Hrm. Yes. And basically social media exploded with love for the more solid, rounded designs from Bumblebee.

    What's visually pleasing and what's not is a personal thing.

    Not taking into account what most people want is a good way to not make money.

    And what most people want are designs that stray away from where the Bayverse ended up.
     
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