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18.12.10

Tron Legacy on WiredTron: Legacy is a 2010 American science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, released on December 16 2010 internationally and on December 17, 2010 in the United States. It is a sequel to the 1982 film Tron. Joseph Kosinski makes his feature film directorial debut with Tron: Legacy, while the previous film director, Steven Lisberger, returns as a producer. Jeff Bridges reprises his roles as Kevin Flynn and Clu, while Bruce Boxleitner reprises his roles as Alan Bradley and Tron. Garrett Hedlund portrays Flynn's now-adult son, Sam.

Sound effects

Crowd effects for the gaming arena were recorded at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International. During one of the Tron: Legacy panels, the crowd was given instruction via a large video screen while techs from Skywalker Sound recorded the performance. The audience performed chants and stomping effects similar to what is heard in modern sports arenas.

Tron: Legacy, the highly-anticipated sequel to the '80s cult hit about a hacker who gets trapped inside a videogame, rivals the technological feat of Avatar.

Both movies were made using stereoscopic, or 3-D, cameras. Cliff Plumer, CEO of Digital Domain, the company that created the special effects for Tron: Legacy, says a lot of movies billed as 3-D were actually shot with 2-D cameras and then converted. This process, however, creates a 3-D effect only in select spots in a film, not throughout.

But 3-D cameras are tricky because they amplify any imperfections in films, and there were lots of potential visual mistakes when it came to the character Clu. Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Clu, but the character is still in his 30s while Bridges is now in his 60s. Transfering Bridges' emotions and movements onto a computer-generated replica of his younger self is the kind of thing that hasn't really been attempted before.

"There's a body double, someone performing the body of Clu. You shoot that first," Plumer says. "Then you have Jeff do the performance and you're capturing his facial performance. The third component is a computer-generated head of Clu. There really is no margin for error. If the head is not perfectly aligned with the body, it's not going to look right."

(Digital Domain also created the computer-generated imagery—notably, Brad Pitt's face and body at different ages– in last year's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and won an Oscar for it.)

Digital Domain also used a host of other technologies to get the look of Tron: Legacy just right. Alignment and color technologies from image processing specialist The Foundry were used to correct imperfections in the film. Plumer says Autodesk design software was used to create "assets" such as motorcycles and environments, and in animating characters.

Tron Legacy Costume"Our tools are used heavily at the concept stage," says Marc Petit, senior vice president of Autodesk's media and entertainment division. "We capture the motion of real people and match it to animated characters in real time."

Making movies like Tron: Legacy, Plumer says, is also a huge data project. "Fundamentally, doing these movies creates an enormous amount of data. Now we're measuring these movies in petabytes," he says. "At the peak, we had 18,000 [computers] rendering the Tron characters. It's the kind of high-performance computing found in research labs."

Digital Domain used Hewlett-Packard servers and workstations and NetApp storage products to handle all the data.

Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski says the movie's 3-D cameras were from Sony and 800 illumination body suits from a company in Minnesota were ordered for the actors. "The suits light up on screen, and one character lights up the other," says Kosinski. "They were iconic elements of the first film. All the characters glowed."

He notes that the original Tron was the first film to use computer-generated technology but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts (the folks who dole out Oscars) didn't think the technology was legit back then.

Tron Legacy CarHow times have changed. Today, you can't find a major movie, even a romantic comedy, that doesn't use CG to make a scene look perfect.

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