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Tech Time Warp: Tron captivates audiences with 15 minutes of CGI

Tech Time Warp: Tron captivates audiences with 15 minutes of CGI

Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp

As with all things technological, it’s easy to take computer-generated imagery, or CGI, for granted—or even complain about CGI, in the case of the much-maligned CGI Flounder from Disney’s recent remake of The Little Mermaid. But in this week’s Tech Time Warp, we take a look at 41 years ago this week—in the middle of an incredible year of film that included E.T., Poltergeist, Blade Runner, and Rocky III, among others—Disney dropped Tron, a movie about computers made with computers.

The late film critic Roger Ebert’s review captures Tron’s legacy well:

“A dazzling movie from Walt Disney in which computers have been used to make themselves romantic and glamorous. It’s brilliant at what it does, and in a technical way maybe it’s breaking ground for a generation of movies in which computer-generated universes will be the background for mind-generated stories about emotion-generated personalities. All things are possible.”

Today we know Ebert’s words were highly prescient. Although Tron was not the first film to use CGI, it was the first to incorporate 15 minutes of CGI, inspiring filmmakers such as George Lucas, James Cameron and Tim Burton. John Lasseter, former chief of Pixar, has said that without Tron there would be no Toy Story. Ironically, Tron was declared ineligible for the special effects category of the Academy Awards because its effects were computer-generated.

Tron did moderately well at the box office, generating $33 million in its original release. The Tron arcade game made more than the movie. But its legacy endures 41 summers later.

Did you enjoy this installation of SmarterMSP’s Tech Time Warp? Check out others here.

Photo: AGGIO / Shutterstock

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