Wireframe Aesthetics (Part 2). Above is a screen grab from the 20th Anniversary Tron DVD, specifically a "making of" feature. This was probably an early test for the MCP (Master Control Program): it looks better exploded like that than it did in the finished movie, where it seemed pretty stiff. I learned a lot from the DVD, specifically how Moebius's production sketches dramatically spiced up the film's look, and how Sid Mead, the futurist designer who also consulted on Blade Runner, contributed cogent machine design (e.g., the light cycles and tanks). The computer graphics were divided among four different companies. In order to communicate the movements the filmmakers wanted (say, in the sequence where a Recognizer chases a tank), the animators hand-wrote numerical coordinates for the horizontal, vertical, and depth axes of each object, as well as variable factors such as pitch and yaw, on a sheet of paper, and the graphics shop keypunched the numbers in: 600 numbers translated into four seconds of film. The movie had approximately 20 minutes of computer-generated footage (including the "descent into the computer," the yes/no-speaking "bit," and other vignettes), all of which had to be painstakingly integrated with the backlit kodalith of the rotoscoped sequences. The "making of" featurette is tres corporate; the Disney execs interviewed basically fib and say the movie succeeded from the get-go, when in actuality the game outsold the film in '82. Absent is any mention of Wendy Carlos' lush electronic score, snippets of which are playing constantly in the background.

- tom moody 5-15-2003 6:12 am

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