When you inevitably go see Transformers 4: Age of Extinction for it eye candy, pay attention to the backdrops and locations as a few of them were General Motors facilities. The Design Center within the campus of the Warren Technical Center is one of them, with the lobby, staircase, design dome, design executive garage, VR room all being utilized for filming. As was the office of Vice President of Global Design, Ed Welburn.
The Design Center served as the headquarters for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, with Welburn’s office serving as the office of a CIA executive. Which, ironically, is played by Welburn himself, judging by his angry line of “My office, 15 minutes. I think you know where that is,” to actor Mark Wahlberg, who stars in the movie. Welburn wouldn’t give away anything else, but the calm and serene GM design executive admitted that it took a few takes to really come off angry enough for the scene. Last he heard, the scene made the final cut.
Welburn’s office is one that would shame the production designers of Mad Men, as it’s the original office to that of the late and great Harley Earl. Even the furniture is original, yet nothing appears weathered or aged. There’s an impressive collection of little GM concept models on one shelf, like the ’50’s Firebird concepts, and even a mighty Futureliner. Behind his desk, which cascades out of the wall, is a figure of Bumblebee, the Transformer that disguises itself as a Camaro, in case you forgot. Overall, the auto memorabilia in Welburn’s office is fantastic, but it was all shuffled out of the location to film the scene. In the place of all the car stuff were prop CIA books, folders, documents, and a massive CIA crest fitted on the wall. Welburn got to keep it. Filming was also done within the Wind Tunnel Facility. Each time, film crews worked for about a week to get the scene in, doing their best not to disturb the work of the engineers and designers at the same time. Total filming time within the Warren Technical Center spanned about three weeks.
For much of the highway scenes, director Micheal Bay turned again to General Motors to see if the many roads of the Milford Proving Grounds could be utilized, instead of clogging up actual interstates. This also explains the spy shots over a year ago showing the Transformers vehicles moving about within the limits of the massive testing facility.
Transformer 4: Age of Extinction will begin showing in theaters in the United States starting Friday, June 27.