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Creating the Software Art In Tron Legacy 124

hownottowrite writes "A software artist has posted an overview of the coding behind the tools used to create Tron Legacy's special effects. 'In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance — splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie.' Ok, it's mostly a lot of awesome images, but there's a nifty reveal about an homage to Bit."
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Creating the Software Art In Tron Legacy

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  • And yet, this will change nothing. The argument goes on.

  • by bpgslashdotaccount ( 1221626 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:38PM (#35716472)
    Can't post anything intelligent about the article, (MCP seems to have locked me out), so I'll say something about the movie: I mostly loved it, but it needed more TRON. He should have been a much more important character. Users' sake, his name is half of the movie title!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It needed a more artificial environment too. Since when did the digital world come to look like ours without the color? The cool thing about Tron 1 was the pure fantasy of it all.

      • I understand that the User gets sucked into the machine and is experiencing everything from the inside, but I'd argue that it's similar to how cyberspace was depicted 30+ years ago in stories like William Gibson's Neuromancer or Vernor Vinge's True Names: here, cyberspace was a heavy flow of data that was given imagery by the human mind to identify it through abstraction.

        For example, in True Names, the equivalent of a login screen becomes a tame dragon that asks specific questions and notices if you move in

    • by bonch ( 38532 )

      The teasers for the next Tron film indicate Alan Bradley will play a larger role, and Encom employees have even apparently nicknamed him "Tron," so in a way, Tron will get more screen time.

      • by troff ( 529250 )
        So, in Legacy, Programs have hair and skin texture, don't have any processing purpose or interaction with their original Users. The Cycles have Engines and need to be "on the Grid" for their power; the fact that in the original movie they did things that were physically impossible was missed to make them "more realistic" for Legacy.

        So, you're saying that in spite of the fact that Kitsis and Horowitz took the unworldly, non-physical, utterly different TRON universe and turned it into Generic Disney Fantasy
        • by halivar ( 535827 )

          It's a constructed digital reality with whatever rules Flynn put into it. It is the way it is because the Users coded it that way. Flynn coded it with physics, and gave programs hair and makeup. Anything other than 1's and 0's on the screen is going to require some suspension of disbelief.

          • not enough 1's and 0's.

            And certainly never enough screw-sorting []!
          • by troff ( 529250 )

            Yes... um... you're missing the point. The point is not that it's an artificial reality and any rules which can be conceived can be applied.

            The point is twofold:
            - that all the things which made TRON unique and engaging have been stripped out and hence made it into another undifferentiated fantasy setting and
            - that Kitsis and Horowitz are exceptionally poor writers who screwed up the movie with egregiously bad writing.

            I mean, let's not take "that's not how computers work" into account:
            - I could still bag it

        • Just when I thought Disney, Kitsis and Horowitz couldn't COMPLETELY 0xFFFF up "TRON" anymore. Pricks.

          This comment, combined with your username, made me laugh this morning. :-)

          • by troff ( 529250 )

            /me bows.

            The username derives not from the movie, but my surname. And the points we discuss here are forcing me to control and choose my language carefully, But you're very welcome. :-)

    • It needed a lot more programs and a lot less monomyth. I found the grid a lot more interesting than the "hero's journey."

    • TRON: Legacy should have had a lot of things. It should have had more lightcycle action. It should have had some Recognizer action. It should have had some tank action. It should have had sets that looked like they were from a computer world and less like the real world. It should have had the feel of a computer world instead of just a futuristic world. It should have had a good story.

      It should have had a lot of things.

      Twenty-eight fucking years...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:47PM (#35716526)

    Stallman and the FSF may now insist that the movie be released on DVD as GNU/Tron Legacy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...but can it edit text yet?

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      ...but can it edit text yet?

      Well... yes... sort-of []. But why go with key-emulation when you can have the real thing?


  • poor, shallow storytelling.
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:08PM (#35716622)

    I spit on your keyboard, noov ctrl-x ctrl-x ctrl-i b ctrl-dd...awe, damnit...

  • meta-x move-one-character-to-the-right ...... excellent (rub finger tips together) []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... who used emacs.

  • by bipbop ( 1144919 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:01AM (#35716866)
    ps | grep? I've been happy since pgrep was added (to Solaris first, but then reimplemented on Linux and FreeBSD/NetBSD). I thought I'd mention it here in case some people reading haven't run into it yet, 'cause even though it's a pretty minor thing, it's neat :-)
    • pgrep doesn't give me enough context for my taste.
      I will almost always prefer "ps | grep", as it gives me a chance to confirm that the pid I'm looking at is the pid I want to kill.

  • Interesting Tie-In (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:02AM (#35716872) Journal

    Since there is nothing to see here I've got an interesting Tron story. I must have watched the original at least 25-30 times through the years, I own a 12" laserdisc and DVD's of it, and never really noticed before, but after re-watching it on TV the other day due to sheer boredom, I finally noticed a name at the end credits I never recognized before - Peter Jurasik. It suddenly dawned on me that was the actor who played Londo Molari on Babylon 5 - you know, the Centauri ambassador with the Peacock / Bozo hair. I tried to think of who it was in the movie, and realized it's the accounting /actuarial program that gets imprisoned at the beginning along with ROM? CROM?. He says of the MCP - "Who does he calculate he is, anyway?". That's him! Just thought I'd share that bit of trivia with everyone.

    • The Bit was also voiced by the same actor who did the voiceover work for Kosh, and of course there's the Bruce Boxleitner and David Warner connections too.

    • IMDB actually has some interesting trivia about TRON. Such as the random pulses in the light ribbons on the background walls were glitches in the effects so they added sound to them and incorporated them into the world.
    • by sparkz ( 146432 )

      Don't keep us waiting - what's the interesting story? ;-)

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:17AM (#35716922)

    Well, now everyone will copy and paste the output from the DVD, but I saw it in the theatre.

    And I saw Flynn key in "uname -a" and I tried to parse the listing for interesthing things.

    Alas, all I caught as the OS was named "SolarOS" and the arch was "sun4m". A tribute to ye olde SunOS, I guess (SunOS/sparc).

    Though, I'd love that nice popup history window...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Since noone seems to actually do it, here you go:

      $ whoami
      $ uname -a
      SolarOS 4.0.1 Generic_50203-02 sun4m i386
      $ login -n root
      Login incorrect
      login: backdoor
      No home directory specified in password file!
      Logging in with home=/
      # bin/history
      488 cd /opt/LLL/controller/laser/
      489 vi LLSDLaserControl.c
      490 make
      491 make install
      492 ./sanity_check
      493 ./configure -o test.cfg
      494 vi test.cfg
      495 vi ~/last_will_and_testament.txt
      496 cat /proc/meminfo
      497 ps -a -x -u
      498 kill -9 2207
      499 kill 2208
      500 ps -a -x -u

      • by troff ( 529250 )

        (The following is a meta-post, with only the hint of a threat of a future on-topic posting.)

        I don't know who's downvoting all these comments. I appreciate the "informative" and "humorous" nature of this.

        Fine, mods. Downvote me, I don't give a flying. It'll just prove the point; there's a lot of downvoting of perfectly reasonable comments and criticisms here. Parent AC is right, it was stupid to run a program without even trying to know what it does. ... I'd include a further criticism of the movie's poor wr

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      But wasn't SunOS pre-Solaris a BSD varoamt? The screen cap clearly shows "ps -ef" being piped to grep; that's East Coast style (SysV). Back in the day when we were two coasts divided by a common operating system, the hippie Bezerkley hackers would have typed "ps axu". So I guess that "SolarOS" is just the movie world's version of Solaris.

      And people claim serious cinema is *inaccessible*.

      • But wasn't SunOS pre-Solaris a BSD varoamt?

        SunOS4 is based on BSD (4.3 and 4.4 for the latest versions like 4.1.4 IIRC.) SunOS5 is based on SVR5. Solaris 1.x is SunOS4 with OpenWindows. Solaris 2.x is SunOS5 with CDE or GNOME. SunOS5 systems with a full install have a full set of BSD userland tools for backwards compatibility, unless they stopped that.

      • by sparkz ( 146432 )
        SunOS is the kernel of the old and current Sun operating system. The Solaris Operating Environment includes the SunOS kernel. Sun Microsystems Inc. SunOS 5.10 Generic January 2005
  • Can anyone comment on what the blog post author means by the "Processing" community? What's he talking about?

  • I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie.

    Always good to see Emacs getting some screen time.

    I'm reminded of the line from The Social Network "It's definitely necessary to break out emacs and modify that perl script." Anyone who's done screen scraping could totally relate to that sequence (PHP and redirects ... I'll come back to that one) but I imagine even regular people can subconsciously detect the difference between realistic computer stuff and "I'm going to virtualize an inverse Java applet to localize the virus!"

  • TFA is totally slashdotted..
  • Bah, who needs emacs! I'll stick with vi anyday! :wq
  • I don't think it counts as a slashdot if the editors link the site wrong. Furthermore, it looks like the images are hosted at amazon web services. So I think the site (when linked to properly) will handle the traffic just fine.
    • by jtnimoy ( 698775 )
      it counts as a slashdot in my books ;) but i think reddit and gizmodo had my server knocked out before /. posted. i just spent an evening migrating the site to a better server, and I did end up moving the images to s3 less than a day ago. also, my php had been calling getimagesize() on all the images to generate html width,height attributes, and that tron page has like 20 mb of jpgs on it. the `www' subdomain and the regular DNS should both work now .. at least it has already propagated to where I am. it wa
  • ...someone did it right. Now somebody needs to go back and digitally alter the original film so that Flynn is entering legitimate Unix commands into the terminal instead of the made up BS they put in there.

    • by cstacy ( 534252 )

      ...someone did it right. Now somebody needs to go back and digitally alter the original film so that Flynn is entering legitimate Unix commands into the terminal instead of the made up BS they put in there.

      Flynn SIGKILL'd first.

  • Hi,

    We write apps for Nokia Symbian phones and publish them on Ovi Store: []

    After liking Tron Legacy alot we wrote a screensaver which mimics the behaviour of the door code unlocker app Flynn is using:
    here is a video of our app in action: []

    here is the Tron Legacy trailer where the N8 is used to unlock the door (Nokia product placement), starts around 0:49 []

    You can get our ap

    • Nice! Now all we need is a port for the N900... Or better yet, hook it into John or a wep-cracker; Make something both cool -and- useful!

      All joking aside, cudos to you guys for creating - and releasing for free - something as cool as that. Good work!

  • I saw Tron: Legacy in theatres long before my current project which involves loading CPU images into an FPGA bank and running software on top of that.

    Though I've always wondered how that would translate to the TRON world - after all, I can take down the soft-CPU (it's an ARM core) with a click of a button, reload it with another ARM code (and peripherals) with another click, etc.

    Always wondered how that would translate. (And while I don't load Linux on them, others apparently do load Linux on them as well).

  • Impressive as his graphics may be, it seems the author fails at basic physics:

    "Fireworks, mmmm. I started with a regular physics simulation where a particle has an upward force applied at birth, sending it upward while gravity pulls it back down resulting in a parabola"

    Didn't he mean "where a particle has an upward VELOCITY applied at birth"?

    • Upward force is applied to the object. Upward velocity is the result.


      • by meithan ( 127713 )

        While your're correct that it's possible, somehow I think it's not what was actually done. I'm no expert on computer effects, but it appears to me that it's much more likely that the particles were created with an upward velocity component and then subject to only the force of gravity. I teach basic physics at a university and it's a common mistake to speak of "force" when one really means "velocity" or "momentum". Phrases such as "the object impacted the ground with great force" are common among students.

        • The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that you're right, seeing as he just wanted the illusion of fireworks and not a detailed (physics-wise) simulation. Applying an actual force and then calculating the velocity would have been a waste of time for him, so he probably just assigned a velocity at birth and (erroneously) called it a force in the article.

    • Probably. Although it is interesting to note that a very realistic simulation of fireworks would start with particles at rest, with an upward force applied at birth.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.