Michael Bay – What is Bayhem?

Michael Bay – What is Bayhem?

Hi. My name is Tony
and this is Every Frame a Painting. And I know exactly what you’re thinking:
Why am I talking about this guy?— Oh my god, you’re Michael Bay!— Oh my god, I am Michael Bay.
Because I don’t like his films and yet I think it’s crucial
to study them. Why?— …and Paul, I think you have started
to watch WrestleMania on television…
— Well, I…— Because you must not avert your eyes:
this is what is coming at us.
this is what what television,
what a collective
anonymous body of majority wants
to see on television.
Like WrestleMania, like Anna Nicole Smith, like Jackass, Michael Bay has created
— Spectacle!It’s what people want. The Romans new it,
Louis Quatorze knew it, Wolfowitz knows it.
— One, two, three…Boom! Bayhem!!We may find it crass and vulgar,
but if we’re going to make better movies, we have to understand
the images that are coming at us.— Hey, hey!!So let’s talk aboutBayhem.
Is it a unique use of film form? If you want to understand Michael Bay, one of
the best ways is to watch his copycats. Consider this shot from
‘Battleship’, which tries to do that circular camera
move he’s famous for. Doesn’t work here.
Why? It’s actually really simple. First,
there’s no background, except for blue sky. Without a background, we don’t get parallax,
so the shot doesn’t feel like it’s moving. See the difference? On top of that, the lens is wrong. Bay frequently
shoots these shots with a telephoto lens, which compresses the space.
This makes the background whizz by. Third, the actor’s just staring
and turning his head, but the key to the Bay version
is that the actors move vertically. Like here. And here. And last, the low angle is there to give us the
scale and slow motion is there to sell it. So what we have here in the Bay’s shot
is multiple types of movement, integrated: movement of the camera,
movement of the background, movement of the actors,
expansion of time. Then they stand still and look
off-screen, creating stillness. Even though you’re looking at a stationary
point in the frame, this shot feels huge.— Shit just got real.Breakdown any Michael Bay’s shot
and that is basically what you will see: layers of depth, parallax, movement,
character and environment to give this sense of epicness. None of these techniques
is particularly unique. In fact, most cinematographers
will naturally create depth in their images and parallax, whenever the camera moves. And the Hero Shot is everywhere. What makes Bay unique is how many layers
and how complex the movement is. That doesn’t make his shots
better, it just makes them more complicated
than the competition. That’s why his frames seem to have
a lot of stuff going on. Lots of dust, dirt, smoke
or explosions between the layers. Also, lamp-posts. Lots of lamp-posts. If you go back to the first Bad Boys, you
can watch this from the opening credits. Here, the car moves one way,
the plane another, the lamp-posts are in frame for scale
and the camera is on a telephoto lens. Later in the film, you can see
the same compositional techinique. And when the explosions happen… Once you see this, it’s much easier
to deconstruct his imagery and to see its limits. For instance, Bay doesn’t distinguish
between when to do a shot and whennotto do it. He’ll
use the same camera movement, whether the charachter’s
saying something important…— You have any money here in the States?… or total gibberish…— What did I say?!
Did you hear what I said?
I heard what I said
’cause I was standing there when I said it.
Every shot is designed for maximum visual
impact, regardless of whether it fits. But the Bay style also leads
to some fascinating visual ideas. How can you make something feel big? Well, you put lots of things
of varying size in the same shot and then you move the camera to emphasize. This is something “Jurassic Park” also
did very well.— Ah!
— It’s… It’s a dinosaur.
Just as important is off-screen space. Notice here, this actor isn’t looking
at the planes we see in the background. That means there’s even
more planes we can’t see. So while the shot feels huge,
it implies even more scale. How does a filmmaker come up
with images like this? In the case of Michael Bay, let’s look
at one of his favorite films.“When you’re a Jet,
you’re a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
to your last dying day”
There’s a great New York Times interview
where he watches “West Side Story” and talks about how
is a great shot andthisis a great cut. He can’t articulate why they’re great,
other than “they’re dynamic”. But I think that’s it:
when you put shots from West Side Story back to back with his work,
you can feel the similarities. I think Bay’s goal is to create
what he thinks are good shots and connect them with
what he thinks are good cuts. If Howard Hawks defined a good movie
as three good scenes and no bad ones, Michael Bay seems to
think a good film is three thousand dynamic shots
and no static ones. Apart from West Side Story, Bay’s biggest
influence is actually other blockbusters. He frequently borrows the same basic
vocabularies and other sequence. So something like this… … becomes this. You’ll notice the tight shots
of the character become tighter. And the wide shots become wider. Everything gets more layers of motion,
but the basic vocabulary’s the same.– I got him!
– Great, kid! Don’t get cocky.
And it’s not just other people
he borrows from. Bay cannibalizes himself just as much. So this… … becomes this. You’ll notice every motion
in the original shot. For instance, the camera
turning counter-clockwise, while the bomb turns clockwise — it’s just cranked up in this version.— Autobots, I’m in pursuit.So what is Bayhem? It’s the use of movement, composition
and fast editing to create a sense of epic scale. Each individual shot feels huge, but also
implies bigger things outside the frame. It stacks multiple layers of movement shot
either on a very long lens or a very wide one. It shows you a lot for just a moment
and then takes it away. You feel the overall motion,
but no grasp of anything concrete. And yet, it requires a lot of people
and integration to do this. But it’s basically a variation on the
existing vocabulary of the action scene. Individual shots are a little dirtier, a little
shakier, more complex, few more layers. Then you cut it together faster
than the brain can register, but not faster than the eye can move. It’s not revolutionary,
just the past with a bit of stank on it. If you want to see a more
etxreme version of similiar ideas, you can look at late-era Tony Scott. And if you wanna see a less cluttered
version, you can look at animation. Someone like Glen Keane. This is way more legible than what Bay does,
but the basic idea is the same: character, environment,
many layers, one epic sweep. The world feels huge. One of my favorite adaptations of the
Michael Bay style is actually shrinking it down. Ironically, Bayhem – which seems to have
developed from a kid blowing up his train set – is actually kind of charming when it’s tiny. Instead of blowing up the world,
how about a small English town?— Swan!But in the end, I think the popularity of
this style is hugely important. Whether we like it or not,
the interesting thing here is that we are really
visually sophisticated and totally visually illiterate. We can process visual information
at a speed that wasn’t common before, but thinking through what an image means…— This is not necessary!… not so much. And as Wernor Herzog put it:— You do not avert your eyes.
That’s what’s coming at us.
This might sound a little weird, but
the person who loses the most here is actually Michael Bay.
He is a slave to his own eye. He has a need to make
every image dynamic, even when it runs contrary to
the theme of his movie.— Some people just don’t know a good thing
when it’s staring them in the face.
— It really is the simple things in life…Yeah, the little things,
like a big house, a dock, a view of the water
and a speed boat. What happens when two great storytellers
tackle this exact same theme?— Heck, Norm, you know,
we’re doing pretty good.
— I love you, Margie.— I love you, Norm.— Two more months.— Two more months…Subtitles by the Amara.org community


  • spartan1010101 says:

    "Oh my god I AM Michael Bay." Literally every Bay movie ever

  • P V says:

    so when shooting with Michael Bay you have to leave the budget at the BAY!
    see what i did there?
    badum bam PHISHHHHH!!

  • Jason Simmons says:

    I once heard about an interview with Christopher Nolan where he said he likes Michael Bay, and said that he learnt a lot from watching his movies. His stories might be garbage, but the visual experience is actually awe-inspiring.

  • whygrace says:

    Having the West Side Story score in the background was a nice touch – clever!

  • Cheeky Harry says:

    Miss you tony

  • _ doomkr6ft says:

    That bad boys highway car chase scene man oh man!!!!!!!

  • Eric Walsh says:

    Not sure why Werner Herzog occasionally comes up as a very high class film expert. Remind me again what notable projects he’s done?

  • TWSTF 8 says:

    There's a couple of good Michael Bay movies lol like, "The Island," and, "Bad Boys II."

    I get the criticism lol no question, but they're not ALL bad haha I don't care what anyone says

  • Eddie Morrone says:

    You had me at, “I don’t like his films.” There are some truly good ones though.

  • Brennan Young says:

    Michael Bay is a very good director. So he's made some bad movies, but he's also made some great films, like Armageddon, The Rock and the first Transformers film. Plus, I think he's an Action Movie King.

  • oopalonga says:

    thanks–had no idea who this dude was or what he did but i got a general understanding now. well done sir

  • Wayne GoldPig says:

    Fast-cutting, and Crash-Bang-Wallop ruined my love of cinema. Bring back the slow, wide vistas of David Lean.

  • streetburned says:

    cool video

  • James A. Franklin says:

    “It’s not revolutionary, just a pass with a little bit of stank on it.” Perfect summary of Bay’s cinematography

  • Jorge Torres says:

    I always find found Michael Bay similar to The Mars Volta. The end product might be an over long, pretentious piece of shit, but damn does it require skill!

  • Hiranmoy Ghosh says:

    2:48 lampposts lol

  • RainbowFury says:

    Be honest, you liked it. lol

  • Joseph Sebastian says:

    What would you say about "13 hours: Secret soldiers of Bengazi"? I feel like he changed and improved his style compared to his older work.

  • Kriti says:

    I feel Michael Bay doesn't get enough credit for his knowledge on film, no matter how messy they may be at times.

  • Fiddlesticks! says:

    The way he tries to create mayhem is great, but how he shows it defeats the purpose. The church scene from Kingsman and the war scene in Battle of Bastards from GOT are great examples of how focus and movement of the camera gives character. Yes, there is utter chaos and violence but we can follow it pretty easily because it's focusing on what's happening around the character, we're essentially given a frame of reference.

  • Joe Wayne says:

    Everyone can talk shit all they want Michael bay is one my favorite directors of movies.
    Now films …. I’ll take Paul Thomas Anderson as one of best.
    Of course for the art of it there is Kubrick ,
    But for the professionalism there was Scorsese

    If Michael Bay would of had his hand in the marvel movies they would of been so much better that last one end game are whatever was shit!

  • Ted M says:

    Dude, you are really good on this stuff. Thanks.

  • Juan J. says:

    This video succeeded in two things: being an interesting analysis of his directing style and being good parroting material for armchair film critics.

  • dpayO2 says:


  • matius pakpahan says:

    what is the movie at 1:29 ?

  • Alexander Supertramp says:

    The only Bay movie I can get behind is the first live action Transformers, just for the nostalgia and Shia LaBeouf.

    And ‘cause Megan Fox is pretty hot.

  • Peter Gossner says:


    Thank you.
    You nailed this down with precision and honesty.

  • Elijah Berry says:

    I still have no idea what I'm looking at when I look at a transformers face

  • Eric Walsh says:

    2:08…. So pathetic!!! 2 parallax shots in a row!😂

  • Stuart D says:

    @2:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAmsyNvBBFI

  • el barto says:

    and this is why i can't watch those movies. at the end of these movies i feel exhausted.

  • healing sloth says:

    Micheal Bay conspiracy theory

  • David Messer says:

    Thanks! Now I know why I hate Michael Bay movies.

  • Jim Humphries says:

    Bay is a con man. He's the Frank Abagnale of directors.

  • buck rogers says:

    your very good,do you make films?

  • TheOicyu812 says:

    Frenetic and disjointed are two descriptions that come to mind when I think of Michael Bey movies.

  • Jack Quick says:

    He makes shitty movies but awesome shots.

  • drxym says:

    Eviscerating. Michael Bay's problem is he's good at CG and effects but utterly incompetent in every other respect and it shows.

  • repstr s. says:

    Thanks, now everytime i watch michael bay's film i'll look for streetlights

  • Pappetsu says:

    I would say Michael Bay's movies are like propaganda, especifically, comercial propaganda.

  • Sheldon Cooper81 says:

    Anna Nicole Smith has created Something spectacle ? Her parents gave her that Body. She just breathed, Slept and ate.

  • Fran Gorno says:

    Wow… an objective, deep, thorough and unbiased analysis on Michael Bay? And from a guy who says he doesn't like his movies? Thank you!

  • Moon inc. says:

    hes a good filmmaker he just makes bad films

  • Harry Potter says:

    Effects editor : uh maybe this movie we shouldn't include any explosions
    Michael Bay : You're fired explosion

  • My Cat's Breath Smells Like Cat Food says:

    All I know is that The Rock and Armageddon are two of the best action movies ever. I haven't bothered with any of his newer stuff. No interest in transformers or any of that stuff. The slingshot scene in Armageddon – holy shit fucks.

  • Jatin Prasath says:

    Nobody can make a simple scene look as epic as micheal bay can make it.

  • Benedikt Otto says:

    Who is the guy with the strong accent in the interview cuts?

  • J J says:

    I want Bay to react to this

  • Slakfocmsnvfgls says:


  • Zombster says:

    Can we talk about the penis explosion @ 1:08 in the middle of the screen?

  • Sana omar says:

    yeap. he is problematic .

  • Prince Mandal says:

    "Shit just got real." That dialogue hits me everytime.

  • Mark IT Geek says:

    (nod) I'm not a Bayhem fan… I agree with you, and this guy on it… Gladiator | Turning Spectacle into a Meaningful Story https://youtu.be/B9QTRWFUI40

  • Marc F says:

    How come no one wants to admit to liking Micheal Bay films??

    Its ok.

  • Osama Bayyoumi says:

    What's the last movie

  • Mr. Duck says:


  • Change in 3D! says:

    5:33 I am having a burnout just from watching this scene.

  • sign543 says:

    I can only remember every watching one Bay film, and that was the first Transformers, and that was only because it was being played for an audience of kids. I just happened to be there. What I remembered what the sensory overload.

  • Susanj Adam says:

    0:06 you can acctually see the wires.

  • BobMatrix says:

    Now I'm car sick… Thanks!

  • Azam M says:

    Bay is a master at his craft, he knows what he is doing. The last scene in pain and gain is just him mocking the idea of “It’s the little things that matter “

  • Stratowind says:

    1:14 I wouldn't call that copying. These are widely used techniques. Only thing is he doesn't know how to use them. 1:54 is actually good.

  • Sledanet says:

    Michael Bay movies are like watching a camp fire: lots of contrast, hues of orange and blue, visually magnetic and after staring to it too long you’re beginning to feel a kind of hypnotic emptiness.

  • geronimo8159 says:

    I got sick just watching this…

  • Aut Gamer says:

    Youtube: Hey here watch this
    Me: Meh later idk
    Me: Okay okay chill

  • gillSans says:

    You might be wrong.

  • SNN says:

    lmao what the fuck anna nichole smith

  • Merchant Ivory says:

    The ONLY thing i think Bay is an Master at, is getting the lighting of VFX shots down mixed with practical effects. Case and point the first Transformers when the bus is cut in half on the freeway, the digital Transformers look absolutely amazing as if they were on set in the flesh so to speak. The lighting and his technique to work with the VFX artist to get this down is phenomenal

  • thesexybadger says:

    Bay and Tarantino are both deeply immature

  • KandaPanda says:

    Studying Micheal Bay to more fully understand film making….is like studying McDonalds to more fully understand aristology (the art or science of cooking and dining).

    …….now, if you will excuse me, im going to go study porn to more fully understand myself.

  • Andrew Taylor says:

    Everybody rags on Michael Bay, but the truth is the audiences do watch him. Yes you describe how “anybody can use his toolsets” but he does seemingly use them better than almost anybody else. Even as he grossly over uses them. Bay’s movies are generally blockbuster schlock. But they are really good blockbuster schlock. For a reason that you almost pick up on, but then back away from. Bay’s scenes feel bigger than just what we see on screen. As a result the audience feels like they are inside the world. That the action and story (as idiotic as it may be) are happening around them. They aren’t simply looking at a flat moving image. Take the final criticism comparing the 2 scenes. The Michael Bay one with the boat moving by in the distance vs the plain simple scene of two people in bed talking. The author postulates that the second simpler scene is far superior. And it is in an Art House film as art way. But the truth is the scene is actually too flat. Just two people facing the camera against the flat expanse of a wall. The audience doesn’t feel like they are in that scene or in that room. It’s a great and powerful scene. But it is a stage play projected on a screen. The audience is watching. But the audience isn’t engaging in escapism. Bay does have a remarkable eye for complex movement. And an ability to pull it off while keeping it looking clean. Compare his scenes to say Zach Snyder’s overly busy disaster porn in the DC movies. Snyder’s scenes just become white noise. While Bay’s scenes grab your eyes and attention. Now if only we could marry Bay’s skills to someone who can tell a good story.

  • Adrian Hartanto says:

    7 seconds in and already shows a scene where they forgot to remove the wire rig

  • RadRich says:

    It's all very interesting, but all that art is wasted on an audience that doesn't care for all that. I think it looks cool, but most people thinks it's garbage, something you throw away and never think about again.

  • Carlos Barni says:

    WHat movie is it at 1:54??

  • Deadly Mesh Designer says:

    Pearl Harbor > Dunkirk
    I couldn't relate to any character in DK…

  • Nincadalop says:

    So this must be why it's always exhausting to watch his movies. Always stimulating with no downtime.

  • Spooky gnu says:


  • Beatriz Rabelo says:

    Everytime I watch a Transformers' movie I got motion sickness and I never knew why. One day I noticed that maybe it's because the camera is always spinning and now I know I was right lol

  • Szabina Agoston Ehrensperger says:

    Good, video, thank you. Lindsay Ellis also made a whole series of videos about Michael Bay, they're also interesting to watch.

  • TheBestYoutubeChannelEverTimesInfinity says:

    I thought this was a video by michael bay's personal youtube channel

  • Felix Müller says:

    The point is:
    I don't fall asleep watching a Bay-Movie.

  • 1Lt Uncle Jack says:

    Michael bay is one of my favorite directors

  • Roshin Alex says:

    boy do I feel dizzy after watching the first 2min13sec of this videos xD

  • mohammed rizwan says:

    This guy edited Michael Bay dynamic movie clips even more dynamic by editing them into one fast compilation of Michael Bay.

    -Illiterate comment.😉

  • TheCinefotografiando says:

    More of this please!

  • Evan Zarsaz says:

    Anyone else feel like throwing up after watching this video?

  • Milton Cabrera says:

    6:12 why does he flip over that log? it looks pretty easy to just step over

  • Thomas Raahauge says:

    Every god damn michael bay movie makes me carsick to watch. Just watching these few clips almost did it. I saved myself from throwing up supper by shutting my eyes. If there's one thing I learned from watching a few minutes of the first transformers movie and then rushing out on some lame excuse it's this: No fucking way am I ever gonna spend a fucking nickle on the turds he craps out on the silver screen.

  • Prince says:

    Every fucking you-tuber hates Michael bay but i haven't come across one person who makes a sensible argument on why he is hated. When are you guy gonna learn that bad movies dont make good money.

  • CannabisCultureTechLife says:

    They couldn't cut out the safety wire in the first scene? Wow never noticed this.

  • Mike McDermott says:

    Until he sold his soul to transformers, Bay was my favorite director.

  • TVChannel One says:

    Bayhem, is all about the baysplosions!
    Baysploding bigger and bigger hardware!

  • WaveForceful says:

    Say what you will about Micheal Bay, but when it comes to a pure action movie, he's one of the best in the field.

  • optimus Transformer says:

    Sucker punch to haters👊, Christopher Nolan is MB's fan and loves his movies.

  • Tim Lünemann says:

    i love Michael Bay

  • Markus STG says:

    Did anybody else notice the wires at 0:06 ? 😀

  • Piotr Szymański says:

    beep .

  • Diego Lisandro Ruiz2 says:

    This Birdman scene is just perfect to explain Michael Bay's movies

  • By's says:

    0:06 the wires that lift NC are visible.

  • Darth Tater says:

    13 Hrs is a movie that Michael bay proves he can be a great director if he keeps his bayham in check

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