What makes a design 'Bay-like'?

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Novaburnhilde, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde シン・ブリュンヒルド

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    Help a brotha out.

    In regards to character designs what makes a design specifically 'bay-like'? Obviously Michael Bay didn't design the bots that went into the films he directed, what I'm asking specifically is in regards to character design, what are characteristics of Bayverse designs?
     
  2. BigRed

    BigRed Well-Known Member

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    Segmented limbs with internal machinery that "pokes" thru the armor's seams is the major factor of the style I think. From the blocky Ironhide to the sleek Sideswipe to the monstruous Decepticons, they all share that feeling of "we want to show you the interior of the machine on all body parts".
    On the same hand, Travis Knight's robots to me were signaled as having more solid armor and less segmented shapes. Like if you grab Dropkick's arms and legs and compare them to Blackout's arm and legs you can see Dropkick has "less pieces" composing that limb.

    I guess Bay designs also felt more liberal and wild with what kind of proportions they were willing to give characters. Travis's robots often had fairly standard proportions, while Bay was willing to go for crazy stuff like bird-like Starscream or the vast diversity of body types the constructicons showed, etc.
     
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  3. Paok

    Paok Well-Known Member

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    I think Bay's aesthetic, at least at first, aimed to emphasize the alien-ness of Cybertronians. Hence, typically, I would say that a Bay-like design, would be one with more insectoid or vaguely aquatic face features and extreme complexity of visible mechanical parts that might represent sort of mechanical muscles. The Autobots, being the good guys, would also have somewhat humanoid and athletic bodies (bar exceptions, like Hound, for example), some rounder shapes, bright round blue eyes and typically... colour. The Decepticons on the other hand, were portrayed, 9 out of 10 times as grey/silver metallic monsters, with spikes and slime. Often hunching, or limping or having weird animal-like body types. Also, as the movies progressed, it would appear, more often than not, that a feature that we're very accustomed to, was missing or was extremely minimally featured; Alt-mode kibble. While it might be an overlooked feature and some characters, throughout the franchise's history, have had more or less than others, nevertheless, it has always been a visual signifier that "this robot turns into something".

    Subsequent films have also taken inspiration from the more questionable or campy design aspects of G1 and other iterations, and on top of what I described previously, randomly applied drastically humanizing features to some Transformers, like beards, or smokey eyes, or bellies, trenchcoats or even cigars. By that point, I'm not sure it was about the alien-ness or the humanity anymore, and more about "lol, looks funny, do it".

    That's my take on Bay's aesthetic when it comes to character design. A normie's description often seems to be "ugly grey robot things and also Bumblebee". Which might tell you something, as well.

    EDIT: Oh, and one thing that might be key to describing what Transformers fans may feel when discussing a Bay-like design is; The "Fuck whatever the original character might have been" philosophy of adaptation. For better or worse, I think that's important to mention.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
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  4. Rob

    Rob Prowl Fan

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    I would say three things combined make it a Bay design, but this is not a hard rule :

    1. A high level of complexity where it doesn't look like it would physically hold together under its own weight and sometimes insect like in proportions.

    2. If applicable, departure from the original characters design and/or color scheme

    3. Difficult to broadly understand the how it got into that robot mode from vehicle mode and vice versa.
     
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  5. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Dukeup Nukhead

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    To add onto this, I would mention a complete and utter lack of kibble in the worst cases. The first three films were largely okay (Sentinel's design is fantastic), but with the latter two films they simply went far too into either unrecognizable alien mess designs or far too human proportioned designs that seemed to try and hide the fact the robots transformed - the complete opposite of what the whole 'robots in disguise' aspect of this franchise is.
     
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  6. daniel 97

    daniel 97 Autobots' second in command

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    Ah. A topic on one of my favorite subjects. What makes the designs from the Bayverse distinct?
    For starters, I would like to split this into two categories. The first category regards a more general description of the designs, which doesn't concern the principles. I think we can all agree that perhaps a very prominent characteristic is the lack of consistency. And if not, then that's what I call it. The design style has changed very much throughout the franchise. The first trilogy concentrated on making the characters look alien, while in AoE and TLK, the organic elements were dominant. Now, the second category is more closely related to the principles of the designs. I think in the first movies, there was a clear direction in the thought process. There was a heavy emphasis on making the characters look real. Later that tendency seemed to have diminished. What best describes the designs in the Bay movies is the excessive variety. There's too much stuff going on. Most of the robots carry many pieces on their bodies, which reduces the emphasis on important things such as head, face, etc. The head is usually a focal point and what makes a character design unique. It's one of the important elements. Some of the designs are very extreme in that they are unrecognizable. Another important characteristic that relates to the previous issue is the lack of unity. In character designs, it's always a good thing to have a repeated shape or form throughout the body. Not the same, but similar. This helps reduce the "vibrancy" of the look and makes it easier for the eyes. That is missing in most designs. I guess a more detailed description of the character aesthetics would be distorted human proportions. If you look at the first movie designs, the faces have recognizable features such as eyes, nose, lips. But their proportion is messed up. I think it might have been intentional. I'm not sure. Most of the time, that really makes them look unappealing.
     
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  7. Shadow25

    Shadow25 Well-Known Member

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    I feel like part of the issue was that only the first movie, and to a lesser degree the second, actually made the transformations the money shots. Like, the transformations should be among the most exciting things you see in the movie, the idea that a real-life vehicle turns into a highly real-looking robot in a convincing way. Blackout and Optimus's first transformations in TF1 are jaw-dropping. But over the course of the movies the transformations happened more and more quickly or in the background and in some cases you had prominent characters not even transforming on-screen (like Hound and Crosshairs in AOE). And with the increasingly kibble-free designs there was just more and more opportunity for cheating, especially when the conversions happened quickly.

    The first movie featured a lot of clean-looking and clearly-shot transformations, and even the ones that happened quickly or in the midst of battle you could tell what was going where. It helped that every single robot design in TF1 (except Megatron) had clear vehicle kibble in the robot modes that made it instantly clear what they turned into, and served as a visual guide during the transformation (i.e., the hood of Ironhide's car becoming his shoulder plates). There was a clear effort for proper scale, mass displacement, and consistency in TF1 that was probably helped by the smaller robot cast, and as the movies go on and you have dozens and dozens of more Transformers characters not all of them are getting the same level of individual attention. Like, I loved the idea they talked about during the production of TF1 that the wheels should remain on the ground as long as possible during transformation so they can keep their momentum while shifting, and you see that when Jazz hops on Brawl during the final battle.
     
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  8. Music

    Music Primetimus Prime

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    Funny you mentioned this as Caple has explicitly said the robot modes will feature more vehicle parts in ROTB. I guess he has been reading the complaints.
     
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  9. daniel 97

    daniel 97 Autobots' second in command

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    I don't think I expressed myself well enough, so I want to clarify my previous comment. What I meant is that the designs in the Bay movies do not implement some important principles. Let me explain what I mean by that in more detail. Usually, we tend to find things that we can easily understand visually appealing. It's the way our brains prefer to work. The more recognizable something is, the less visual information the brain has to process. I hope this makes some sense to you. This is also why, as humans, we feel more comfortable when surrounded by familiar things. These concepts play a significant role in designing anything. Character design is no different. The less complex it looks, the more appealing it is. At least to a certain extend. Here is where the idea of balance comes into play. It helps achieve this. How exactly? By manipulating some variables. In this context, I think the most important variables are the emphasis and the variety. The emphasis is the part or area of the design that stands out the most. For example, Shockwave's single eye, Jazz's visor, and his spoiler, Megatron's arm cannon, Optimus' battle mask. Things that make each character recognizable and memorable. Variety refers to how complex the design is. Fewer elements mean there's little variety and vise versa. The achievement of balance depends on the proper use of both. Too much variety means there is no focal point and no emphasis. Not good. Too little, and the design looks simplistic and uninteresting.

    [​IMG]
    Here's an example I believe illustrates the problem. Dreadbot from TLK has a too complex design, in my opinion. There's an unnecessarily high level of variety in the shapes. There are too many spikes around the waist area. The pieces that form the upper chest are excessive too. There's also too much stuff going on with the head. At first glance, it's pretty difficult to distinguish it from the rest of the body.
     
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  10. AStreetcarNamedWheeljack

    AStreetcarNamedWheeljack Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Does this answer your question?
     
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  11. waniel239

    waniel239 Monitor of the 15th Galactic Convergence

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    I get it, because of that one time Optimus called Megatron "junkyard scrap"
     
  12. Nova Maximus

    Nova Maximus Well-Known Member

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    Fun fact: The line was actually "Junkyard Crap".
     
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  13. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    In my opinion, I describe Bay style as such: An over-abundance of shard-like shapes, gaps, and contrasting angles... but there's more to it than just that.

    It is not simply the level of detail, but the specific way detail is approached, in that it's often contrary or unrelated to the shape of the limb or body part. A good example is Ironhide's legs. There's not really a visible knee or shape to the thigh and calf, no parts "conform" to the limb, often jutting or angling away or in seemingly random directions. Compare this to, say, Blitzwing's legs in the Bumblebee movie. There's a clear shape and form, with a clear knee and distinction between thigh and calf.

    Bay designs also often employ lots of sharp angles, especially Decepticons. A good example is posted above with Crowbar/Hooligan, though that's actually one of the more traditionally formed designs with clear limb structure. It seems to have generally well-defined proportions (and as a result is one of my favourites) but either as a trade-off or in spite of that fact, there's much less visible kibble. Bay designs also tend to favour the unorthodox or alien, even in Autobots. Plenty of Autobots have inhuman hands and faces, though starting about DOTM and into AOE they became a lot more human-inspired. (to an almost ridiculous extreme)

    Bay designs tend to be unique in another aspect, specifically the way parts "bend" or "distort" between modes rather than remaining a consistent shape, but isn't quite like the cheating seen in animation. Examples are AOE Prime's chest doors, which are virtually unrecognizable as his "pectoral muscles." Barricade's hood also bends into a V-shape, and most characters with markings covering flat areas on their alt mode sport pieces with those same markings bent and warped into something geometric with no visible seams.

    Accumulating all these aspects, Bay designs tend to resemble a vehicle "come to life," rather than simply be a robot covered in car parts. A lot of characters will have the alt mode segments in "equivalent" areas, such as wheels in or on the limbs, headlights or grills on the chest, and tail lights and other rear components (such as Optimus' trailer hitch) making up the back. This isn't iron-clad, but it's a generally followed rule. The quasi-organic shapes and distorted vehicle segments add to the effect of the alt mode being part of a living thing and less armour over an existing robot, or a vehicle merely cut up and rearranged into a robot shape. How effective this is, and whether or not this properly evokes the idea of Transformers, is up to individual interpretation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
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  14. BigRed

    BigRed Well-Known Member

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    The last part is a very good point, and reminds me that they do actualy mention something of that sort in one of the DVD commentaries, ILM staff appear commenting something akin to the pieces of the robot bodies resembling the vision of "woah this is alot of intricate parts" that someone gets when they life the hood of a car and go poking around for the first time.
     
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  15. Moy

    Moy Constructicons!

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    [​IMG]
    Exhibit A
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    Exhibit B
     
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  16. Gokai Rod

    Gokai Rod Well-Known Member

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    The design has a lot of sharp angles, and sometimes parts of its' alt mode are scattered all over it. Evil robots and beasts have very menacing appearances with many spikes and sharp edges
     
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  17. Shadow25

    Shadow25 Well-Known Member

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    You know something? Maybe it's not a super fair comparison since he's mainly seen on Cybertron, but BB Optimus doesn't even have any more clear vehicle kibble than Bayverse Optimus. In fact Bayverse Optimus might have more. The overall aesthetic is a bit different and obviously BB Prime is closer to the silhouette of G1, but it's instantly clear what both of these are meant to turn into, and that they're both Optimus Prime.
     
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  18. TheDude810

    TheDude810 I have an unhealthy obsession with the RotF Game

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    I think the meaning and design philosophy for the Bay TFs changed over time, but I’m going to talk about 07 and RotF’s.

    So, in these films you initially had very kibble/vehicle mode oriented designs such as Blackout, Scavenger, and Jetfire. There was a greater focus on where these parts go and how they function in robot mode. As a result, the vehicles tend to “bleed into” the designs of the bots and/or their weapons, rather than a character being developed as a robot design first and foremost with the vehicle being an afterthought like in AoE and TLK.

    Blackout has tons of integrated Pave Low kibble all over his body, from the arms to the legs, and also the cockpit making up a majority of the chest. One of Blackout’s most defining features is his helicopter rotor forming a cape in robot mode that also doubles as a spinning melee weapon.
    upload_2021-6-26_11-5-24.jpeg

    Scavenger is one of the most extreme examples, where almost every design choice made here for the robot mode stems from the Terex O&K RH400 excavator he transforms into, such as his massive tread wheels, cab shoulders, and shovel arms. Sure, if you stripped the vehicle away, you’d still have a big-wheeled, large armed robot, but the excavator is an integral part of the character design that can’t just be changed out with, say, a bulldozer.
    upload_2021-6-26_11-5-9.jpeg

    Jetfire’s long, centipede-like neck and physique is an obvious byproduct of the designer incorporating an SR-71 into the design. It’s basically if they asked “what if an SR-71 Blackbird was alive?” As a result, they took the most defining aspects of the Blackbird, it’s size, shape, and presence, and incorporated it into a robot design.
    upload_2021-6-26_11-5-33.jpeg

    When coming up with these characters for the first to films, I think the philosophy that they ultimately followed was along the lines of “How would you go about translating that vehicle’s distinct features into something that can move and breathe?”
     
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  19. MrCoffeeBot814

    MrCoffeeBot814 Member

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    I think it's the "more-is-more " mentality that possess in a lot of their designs. Like spining circle and Cybertronian glyph on the sides of movie-1 Optimus head, or the overly complicated transformations, or the little bits and pieces protusing from their bodies. As oppose to simple lines and body shape like in cartoons or the Bumblebee film.

    Overly-complicated, and at times, unescessary datails. You get what I mean.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
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  20. ACMagnus

    ACMagnus Phantom Thief

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    The way I see it, there's three distinct robot mode design approaches in the movies.

    Bay's designs from '07 to DOTM always leaned towards the end product of someone designing a sci-fi alien robot, realizing that robot needs to turn into something, so they add bits and pieces of an alt-mode to the design to convey the idea that it transforms. Those bits and pieces seem like they break the laws of physics, as some parts literally have to bend to get from one mode to the other, a la Bumblebee's license plate in the Bay movies. The end result winds up looking like a mechanical skeleton wearing the alt-mode as armor.

    AOE and TLK completely threw the physics of transformation out the window, more so than the first three movies. The robots almost completely got rid of the vehicle mode parts in robot mode, instead opting for using the vehicle mode more as a motif. What we get from that is a robot that's more coherent, but is simply colored like their alt-mode, with maybe some headlights or smokestacks stuck on just to remind people that it still transforms.

    Bumblebee's robot designs take the early movie design approach, but the alt-mode shell pieces are much larger, covering up a lot more of the mechanical bits but minimizing the parts separation in the robot mode. It also feels much more grounded in reality, as parts seem to warp a lot less to form the robot mode design. This leads to a much simpler-looking robot mode, but also one that has a lot more character, since the robot mode evokes the shape of the alt-mode a lot more than the Bay movies.
     
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