My experience with Tron: Legacy last night has changed the way I see movies (and games) in the following ways (there’s just one small spoiler at the very end):
- I will never see the “snake game” the same way ever again.
- The Matrix seems a lot less impressive. What this tells me is that any good movie I see from now on should be researched for originality.
- It was the first movie I saw in 3-D, since Disney World when I was in High School. I know I know, I’m usually behind in these things. I found myself doing the ongoing Turing test of “is this 3-D? or is this just detailed animation?”
- The other (more appropriately deemed) Turing test was a result of seeing a movie where there was a mix of CG human character(s) and actual human actors. At any point, they could just switch it up on you, and you’ll be fooled into believing that some motion-captured being was human. So, I didn’t see Avatar, but it sounds like Avatar was a mix of mo-cap (motion-capture), CG, and humans. I’m at no authority to say either way, but the novelty of Tron: Legacy was that they were clearly trying to get the most human-like visual behavior in some instances. Avatar could explain away uncanny valley’s by simply rationalizing that these were aliens. That’s why there are so many First Person Shooter Games that feature zombies and aliens. The human animation was good, but still noticeably unhuman-like, while human characters were trying to be more machine-like.
- I went with my lab-mates and professors, most of which had an appreciation of Tron that I didn’t understand. As I went with them, I feel like the meaning, inspiration, and creativity of Tron’s “legacy” was imparted on me.
Also, it was pointed out that many of us know two of the people who worked on the original movie. This means that people who we can potentially work with now have been working on cool technology since before we were even born. A professor explains:
28 years ago, when many of you were in diapers – er, not born – whatever
– an impressionistic and, dare we say, somewhat geeky, young high
school student, having recently learned to program on a TRS-80 Model 1
(with a capacious 4K of RAM, though the damn OS hogged 800 bytes), saw
Tron. Released the same year William Gibson coined the term cyberspace,
and featuring a video game developer as a hero, Tron tapped the now
common place zeitgeist of games and virtual worlds at its infancy. This
was one of the memorable influences that put me on the path to what I’m
A number of years ago, when my mom was cleaning out her garage, I
came across an old high school essay where we had to imagine our future
careers. I said I would work on a unification of relativity and quantum
mechanics in order to develop a faster-than-light drive (fail – though I
did get as far as earning a degree in physics), and that I would develop
a new kind of computer based on multi-valued logic on which I would
develop mind-blowing games (partial fail – silly, a hardware
implementation of multi-valued logic would be no more expressive than a
traditional binary computer).
The story was ok, but more than anything, I was enchanted by what it meant to so many people. Much like the Star Trek movie in 2009, Tron: Legacy passes on a far more audacious attempt to make technology relevant to the average movie goer. I sometimes cry technology tears when I see such discrepancy, I mean, I wasn’t even born the the orignal came out. I don’t want this awe to ever stop, just like how deeply I was moved when I first saw Mario Galaxy’s Trailer a few years back at GDC or heard Final Fantasy music in a concert hall.
My computer movie over the years is “Sneakers.” My AP Comp Sci teacher in High School said it was awesome, and what an impression it left on me. I was quite void of technological influence most of my life, and these movies captured the “why we should care” feelings.
Tron is even more relevant, as it is about games and what simple mechanics can translate into human experiences. I need more inspiration like that, because I do want to build some of the things that movies take for granted.
SMALL SPOILER: The final test of believability that I was engaged was within the believability of the “romance scenes.” I couldn’t help but laugh at anthropomorphized computer programs making out in the orignal. Tron: Legacy, on the other hand, does things appropriately subtle. The worst uncanny valley’s are the ones of forced love scenes.