The Making of a 'Legacy'

Produced in 1982 by a quartet of mainframe computer developers, the Disney film Tron was a visual feast in its day, sprung on a virgin audience unfamiliar with terms like "CGI" and "digital 3-D."

In terms of the futuristic sci-fi films of its day, Tron, which starred Jeff Bridges as a videogame developer digitally imprisoned in his own creation, isn't held in the same regard by critics and purists as say, Blade Runner.

But evaluated on sheer visual spectacle, it achieved landmark status for its rendering of a computer-generated 3-D universe that had never been seen before. "In an age of amazing special effects, Tron is a state-of-the-art movie," wrote film critic Roger Ebert back in 1982. "It generates not just one imaginary computer universe, but a multitude of them."

In fact, the film contains less than 20 minutes of computer-generated imagery, confined mostly to the scenes involving the light cycles, tanks and ships. But shot in black and white, with color added in post-production, along with the computer-driven effects, Tron was certainly a harbinger of film and TV production techniques to come.
"We were taking live action and then treating it as if it was an animated movie," said director Steven Lisberger to fan site Ugo. "From that point on, every frame was a piece of art, and we used a lot of animation techniques to create the effects."

Scheduled to be released in December as the 18th 3-D feature on a 2010 calendar, which has already included visual spectacles such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, the bar will be set pretty high for Disney's long-awaited sequel, Tron: Legacy.

Indeed, it's getting hard to blow moviegoer minds the way the producers of the original did nearly three decades ago, but a new Disney army of more than 100 computer graphic artists are going to try.

Director Joseph Kosinksi - who has also been commissioned by Disney to remake Logan's Run and The Black Hole - believes that recent screenings of the Legacy trailer are an indicator that the production is on track with meeting the visual expectations of the original Tron's cult fan base.

"I heard about people getting on planes and flying from Chicago to New York and crazy stuff that I would have never anticipated," he told MTV Movies Blog. "We were playing to the Tron base, so if it doesn't play well to those guys and girls, we're in trouble. But it played great."  Daniel Frankel

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