Cars that transform into robots are the stars in a movie sequel being released this summer. And those larger-than-life vehicle stars were created based on math data supplied by General Motors' design and engineering teams.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" features five Autobots with Chevrolet ties, including a Corvette. "It's as much a movie car as anything else," Ed Welburn, Vice President of GM Global Design, said about the "vision concept" influenced by the 1959 Corvette Sting Ray Racer and the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe.
"This vision concept is part of the free exploration of future products that I encourage our creative and talented design teams to develop," Welburn said during the Corvette concept's unveiling at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. Welburn pointed out the concept car's "wide shoulders, sculpted fender forms, side-air extractors, piercing nose," as well as the aircraft-inspired features at the back.
In addition to the concept Corvette, the 2009 Transformers movie features the Trax and the Beat (based on concepts introduced at the 2007 New York Auto Show), the 2010 production Camaro, and the 2011 production extended-range electric Volt.
Transformers movie director Michael Bay toured GM design studios months ago to hand pick vehicles. "He walked the halls going in and out of different (GM design) studios. He saw all kinds of things he was interested in," said Welburn. Cars were selected based on looks. "It's all about style and how the vehicles fit into this story," said LeeAnne Stables, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships at Paramount Pictures, the film's distributor.
The Autobots were created using math data. "The files that GM provided were turned into polygonal models, so they were easier to manipulate and eventually animate," explained Frank Saucedo, Director of GM's Advanced Design Studio in California. "This way the (movie) production designers could start to reconfigure the panels piece by piece to create the concept sketch for each particular Autobot they were working on. Our role was that of a consultant on the original designs and giving perspective on how the designs translated into Autobots."
Supporting the movie's production team was inspirational. "It is always exciting collaborating on projects like this because it stretches the realm of what the future might be," said Saucedo, adding, "Design is all about telling a good story."