TRON: Legacy – Vehicles and Gadgets

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Joseph Kosinski is the director of "TRON: Legacy," the remake of the 1982 classic "TRON." The film, which stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlind, and Olivia Wilde, is being released by Disney on December 17.



Lightcycles are an important and vital part of the TRON mythology. One of the designers who worked on the sleek, reconfigured Lightcycles in “TRON: Legacy” is Daniel Simon, a former car designer for Bugatti, who used, as a basis, the original sketches by Syd Mead, the designer of the Lightcycles for “TRON.”


Simon explains the challenges: “A Lightcycle forms a visual unit with its rider. His helmet and body become part of the bike design and stance—but you still need to give him freedom to move. That’s not in your catalogue; you have to start from scratch.”


Moreover, adds Simon, “The Lightcycles are created out of a baton, so I had to design the entire inside of the bike, every screw and gear, so Digital Domain could transform it in animation. That was interesting, developing the look of how a vehicle might grow.”


Other vehicles in “TRON: Legacy” include the Light Runner, on the Grid a powerful racing car but in the Outlands a tough off-roader; the Recognizer, a huge, U-shaped vehicle that roams the streets looking for wayward programs; Solar Sailers that are flying cargo ships; and Clu’s Rectifier battleship, which is three times larger than any aircraft carrier in the real world, holding Clu’s entire army.


And while one would expect these amazing vehicles to be entirely computer-generated creations, many were also practically built for certain scenes, in keeping with Kosinski’s desire to constantly blur the line between CGI and reality. The filmmakers contracted a company called Wild Factory, who builds prototypes for Volkswagen, to take on the task of bringing some of the vehicles to reality.


Light Discs


On the back of every illuminated suit is a light disc and as in “TRON,” the discs play very significantly in “TRON: Legacy.” The light disc represents the power source, essence and memory bank of every program. Used as a weapon, it will return to its user like a boomerang. The light discs that were created for the film consist of 134 LED lights, are radio controlled and attached to the light suits with a magnet. They also house the batteries and electronics that power the light suits.


For Grid-dwellers, the baton is an important piece of equipment that can be used as a weapon or to store huge amounts of data and utility programs, and by keying in codes, it can create a Lightcycle or other vehicle around the user. As director Kosinski explains, “The baton is the Swiss army knife of this world. It can form any number of vehicles and it can also form different weapons depending upon your specialty.”