Rosenbauer America helps give life to ‘Sentinel Prime’
ECM Staff Writer
When movie goers watch Sentinel Prime racing through urban streets in the upcoming “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” they will be watching a fire truck that was built by a Wyoming manufacturer.It is the predecessor of Optimus Prime, which was the Autobot star of the previous two Transformers films.
“Everybody is really buzzing and excited,” Johnson said.
The company is thrilled with the publicity and they plan to take advantage by showing off the vehicle in multiple locations around the Twin Cities and the country. They are also letting prospective buyers know that the vehicle is for sale.
In March of 2010, a sales manager in Rosenbauer’s West Coast division received a call from one of Transformers director Michael Bay’s production assistants. The movie director saw Internet images of the Rosenbauer Panther and liked what he saw.
Rosenbauer did not need to design a vehicle that was half fire truck, half Sentinel Prime, but Johnson said the special effects team requested blueprints so they knew dimensions of the vehicle’s parts. Johnson was told this information would be crucial for making the computer generated transition from the Panther fire truck to Sentinel Prime.
The most significant changes made to this Rosenbauer Panther demonstration vehicle was the color scheme. Transformers director Bay loved the appearance of this vehicle, but he did not like the yellow and lime green color.
Johnson said Bay’s staff asked for black, gray and red colors.
The tone of red that Bay wanted looked like the vehicle had been sitting in the sun for 20 years, Johnson said, so he sent a couple samples of darker shades of red. Bay signed off on the darker shade, so Johnson played a small role in the re-design of this Rosenbauer Panther vehicle.
The red covering on the emergency lights were replaced by blue and clear coverings. The 54-foot boom black ladder was repainted to have a gray metallic shine. The windows got a darker tint.
The logos of the Autobots as well as Rosenbauer’s trademark ‘R’ logo were also painted on this vehicle.
Lots of Travel
Besides downtown Chicago, the Rosenbauer Panther has been on location in downtown Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. as well as the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and in Utah. Johnson was offered the chance to visit one of the movie shoots, but was unable to fit it in his schedule.
Almost all of Johnson’s correspondence with the movie makers was by phone and e-mail. One of the movie production’s professional drivers visited the Wyoming Industrial Park facility for a few hours to get used to driving the vehicle. Despite its immense size, Johnson said it is not too difficult to drive. He called it “a minivan on steroids.”
The vehicle is 40-feet long, just over 12 feet tall and just over 10 feet wide. It can hold up to 3,000 gallons of water and a high-concentrated foam. The fully loaded vehicle weighs around 80,000 pounds, according to Johnson.
The movie makers swore Rosenbauer to secrecy making them sign a non-disclosure agreement. Johnson and the Rosenbauer team knew this vehicle would be Sentinel Prime, but they were not allowed to market their involvement in the movie until very recently. They were not sent any videos of their vehicle on the set. The first video footage they saw was on YouTube.
(Editor’s Note: Eric Hagen is a staff writer with the Anoka Union.)