Monday, July 27, 2009

Tron Legacy: Grid Concept Test

This is a teaser trailer more than any sort of effects test. A "proof of concept" probably best describes it. Most effects tests I've seen simply feature the effect. Throwing in the dramatic music and appearance from Jeff Bridges is what makes it a teaser. And I am teased. I've been a Tron fan for about five years now. I caught wind of it in my early college years and decided to buy the 20th Anniversary DVD on a whim and have loved it ever since. Soon after came the Tron 2.0 video game (which I can't get to work on my computer lately, for some reason) and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. It's a great universe and I love that they're bringing it back with all of our modern CGI glory. However, the question remains that since this is a proof of concept, how much of what we saw will actually be in the film? I assume they'll use all of it, or update the scene and do it again. One forum-goer commented on the animation being terrible. If he means in terms of movement from the characters, I guess I could see where he's coming from. It really hasn't bothered me for the year I've been watching this in a grainy, low-res YouTube camcorder version, and getting the high-def version this week has kept pretty much the same feel for it. I think if they kept the rest of the film of this quality, they'd still have a hit on their hands. He's prolly just an animator being picky, lol. Another forum friend commented:
According to the universe of TRON, the lightcycle stuff takes place in an electronic reality, which is what they're trying to get away with here - and in the first TRON, it was so ghetto and ridiculous and groundbreaking that you could buy that. (Plus, that wasn't unlike what video games actually looked like at that point in history.) These days, this doesn't represent what we assume "the inside of a video game" to look like - if anything, it looks like the current trend in cell phone commercials. It might be something you completely forget about in the context of the film (or, you know, not), but as a picture, it's only compelling as an exercise in motion graphics.
One thing I've wondered about in the first Tron is just how this world inside a computer works. Humanoid programs baffles our logical thinking minds, I'm not even sure where exactly this world exists. Within electric signals? Beneath the circuits? Does the world disappear when you shut down your computer for the night? And on that note, would every computer system or network look like this? I like to think the look of Tron as we know it is how the computer world looks in terms of the Encom computer system. Basically, in the Master Control Program's system and everything it has appropriated, this is how things look. Maybe part of the MCP's reason for cracking into all the other networks is to expand his own world. A digital Death Star which, rather than destroying other systems, it conforms it's own format. Now, say you were back in 1982 and were sucked into the computer world of a different company, like Microsoft. I bet you'd still have glowing program people, but since Microsoft hadn't invented Space Paranoids and the like, their system would likely revolve around Windows logos and helpful paper clips. So with that understanding, bring the wayback machine to present day and imagine Encom has kept the rights to Lightcycle and updated the game. If the impact of their work in the real world alters the look/existence of the computer world, then this is probably how it would look, regardless of Lucasarts and Activision's graphics of the day (tho I'd like to get a look at THEIR computer worlds). This is just a theory, but if I'm true and that's how they're explaining it, I think they should spend a little time in the film having a character find him/herself in another system. Anyway, just fan conjecture at this point. The teaser itself has many things worth noting. First off, the updated graphics are amazing. I mean, there's reflections of the lightcycles in the enemy's jetwall. I love that they're taking the black look of the film and turning those surfaces into a glass-like material. That's how Tron 2.0 was, though not nearly as reflective. When you broke things in that game, it was like shattering glass. Actually, I guess that's kind of how it looked in the old movie too, just a much lower res version of it. The one thing I'm not quite keen on is the updated outfits. However, I'm theorizing this is just a lightcycle uniform. My problem is that it just looks like a leather jumpsuit with some tube lights run through it. The outfits in the original really felt like the glow was coming from within the person, rather than just being an accessory on their uniform. However, if this is just sort of a combat armor for lightcycles, then it'll probably be fine. The updated helmet is a pretty neat idea. It looks like they're making it work like a monitor. The way we see it looks like a face inside a helmet, but it looks like they're trying to show that the headpiece is just a really fancy screen. The digital young Jeff Bridges turns his 'monitor face' on and off. Rather than having a face like a human, perhaps it's considered to be more of an interactive display through which they communicate. So, a digital face, but not a face? If you look closely, you can see a bit of pixelation over their faces, which suggests monitor. The really interesting thing is that this same effect seems to have been applied to Jeff Bridges as well. Hmmm. The film's not out yet, so I will put a a SPOILER WARNING here: The action was cool, the sound was excellent (I love the sound of the "tires" landing on the glass) and the teaser did a really good job of showing us what they're selling without really giving away much of anything. I read online that the "evil" Jeff Bridges is likely the de-rezzed CLU program from early in the first film. It'll be fun to see how he got re-rezzed. The part that I'm sure most people are wondering about is Fung Shui Jeff up in his little mountain condo. In the video cam leaked version, I couldn't see most of the details present in the scene. I didn't know he had beads on his hand, nor did I see the decor. It just looked like he was in pajamas in a white room. The theory that popped into my head today is that he's CLU's prisoner. A vengeful/mad program might just take it upon himself to capture his user. Maybe he's trying to become as powerful as Flynn was in the first film, or maybe even escape out into the real world. I'm wondering if the gate the blue program was racing toward was somewhat significant. He shouts "You won, okay? It's just a game!" Perhaps the goal of this game is to reach the palace-looking thing without being stopped by CLU. And many programs try, and Flynn is left in his pseudo real world prison to watch CLU dominate his opponents. Pure speculation, but I'm interested to see just how right I am, if at all. I can't wait for this movie. Just based on this teaser and the snippets of info I've read on the net, this thing is going to be geek-tastic.
For more news on Tron Legacy, I recommend visiting the official site: Just kidding. They'll never tell you much, it'll just be a good place for some desktop wallpapers. I've been going to: Also, for some quality Tron fanfilm hilarity, check out:

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