Creating The Fan Commentary For The 20th Anniversary of The Transformers Movie

The fan commentary consisted of myself (Joe Moore), Paul Hitchens, J.E. (Rik) Alvarez and Tony Bacala (credited as Alex Weiner). We first arrived at Sony BMG’s office on a Thursday in July. While in the office, we talk with the representatives Randy, Ariana and Lauren. Paul has all his wonderful materials, such as a shooting script, storyboards, animation cells and much more. As we talk, the Sony reps pull out a video asking if we could watch it to see if it’s worth putting on the disc. The video is a combination of the Cinex credits test and the test footage. As we watch we notice various things, like shots missing highlights, laser effects and the like. Then we come to a scene that caused each of us to jump out of our seats. The shot was directly after Astrotrain leaves Autobot city. The camera pans to the left and we see Autobots running to the fallen Optimus Prime. At this time we all realize that a great myth has been solved. That there is animated footage which did not make the final cut of the film. Paul checks his script and points out where this shot would have fit in. There it was, the first ever Transformers the Movie deleted scene ever found. Needless to say Ariana, Randy and Lauren were just delighted to know that they had something great. And they did. The rest of the meeting consisted of picking out materials for the extras, going over some rules for the commentary and just enjoying the fact that we were about to participate in something big.

The next day we come into the Sony BMG recording Studio. We are set up in a very large room which has a grand piano a few tables and a foosball table. Needless to say the foosball table got much use that day. In front of the room there was a window looking into the production booth. The room housed multiple Mac computers, an elaborate sound board and a large screen TV. The sound crew would be editing as we go along. On the tables, the Sony crew sets up 4 individual screens with headphones a microphones. Initially we were to use mic stands, but the crew decides to go with clip on microphones. As the display is being set up, we all go over our own notes, and how we are going to approach the commentary. We each discuss the points we want to hit. Paul has the entire shooting script directly in front of him. After a final mic check we begin.

The commentary starts off a bit rough until we find our groove. Once we do, about 10 minutes or so in, we’re doing great. Paul’s hitting all the hidden and obscure tidbits and facts, Rik and Tony like to hit on what they experienced the first times they watched the film, I try to talk about how this movie related to other animated movies of the year. We’re all going well until I make a mistake. I began to talk about how the aesthetic of the toys changed after the release of the movie. My comments hit on how the toyline sales begin to falter in the following years, and the Randy needs to stop me. My comments were coming off a bit on the negative side on those figures and that wasn’t going to fly. We decide to forgo that line of thinking all together and back up a bit and go from there. It takes us a few minutes to get our momentum back, but we do so gracefully. We hit every point we wanted and needed to.

After the recording, we go get some food and then go over some of the stuff we did. The sound crew had already edited most of the commentary as we were doing it. They fixed some hisses and pops in the sounds, aligned it perfectly and we gave a quick listen to make sure we didn’t need to go back and re-record anything. Once we determine that we are satisfied with the commentary, Paul goes in to record his commentaries for the test trailer and test, alternate footage. Of course Paul nails it on the first recording of each.
Then it was a wrap. We were done and now had to wait months until we could even say anything to anyone. Once things were announced at BotCon 2006, we were all pretty relieved and happy. It was a great experience and we all hoped you enjoy listening to the commentary.