The Brunch Table

4/24/2004

DA for MCP

Filed under: — Nick @ 3:59 pm

Interview with Bill Kroyer, Director of Animation for Tron. The most interesting part is where he talks about the film’s computer elements being rendered on a Cray mainframe–which meant that rendering anything meant dealing with the Cray company technicians, who were the only ones allowed to touch it. That never occurred to me before…suddenly the very ’80s Kraftwerkish “scary computer” makes a lot more emotional sense.

The overall tone of the article is a bit keynote-addressey, but it’s these little hints of a bygone production process that are amazing to read:

The Cray was a cool computer, able to do six billion computations a second. It was engineered to such a high level of performance, that it was actually designed to crash three or four times a day. And the only people who could start it back up again were people from Cray. So, when you bought a Cray, they sent people who would live with it, called Crayons, in a trailer in the parking lot…

If you watch the credits, you’ll see a couple hundred Chinese characters at the end: those are the names of the artists who painted mattes in Taiwan. A year later, that was totally obsolete. Computers could do all that. That’s how fast it changed…

When we did FernGully: The Last Rainforest, which we ink-and-painted using traditional methods, we used 4 tons of paint and produced 16 tons of finished art just to make one film. Now it’s on a few tapes or disks.

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