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TRON: Legacy - Joseph Kosinski interview

TRON: Legacy

Interview by Rob Carnevale

FIRST-time director Joseph Kosinski talks about some of the technical challenges of making TRON: Legacy, comparisons to Avatar and what’s next in terms of technology and what can be achieved.

Q. Most first time directors work on a smaller scale and don’t have a huge amount at stake. You’ve plunged in at the top. Was there any sense of foreboding or did youthful arrogance see you through?
Joseph Kosinski: Yeah, not knowing exactly what I was really in for was probably part of it. One of the first things I did was get Jeff [Bridges] to sign on and that was a huge step and a huge part of the process for me and I was excited to take this thing on. I was a big fan of the original as a kid and saw a huge opportunity to do something different.

Q. What were the challenges for you in making a movie that was on the digital cutting edge?
Joseph Kosinski: You know, I think it was the same challenge that you face on any film. The focus was on the story and the characters and that was where we put most of our efforts. I tried as much as possible to keep the technology on the periphery while making it. Sometimes it would intrude if something broke down and we had a lot of stuff happening. I thought my job was to try to surround the actors with as much reality as possible and use the technology to serve the story.

Q. Where do you think things are going to go in terms of a TRON sequel, and where do you think technology will go in terms of synthespians?
Joseph Kosinski: Well, I think 3D technology is a new technology that is always advancing. We’re already seeing cameras that have four times the resolution of the cameras we used. We’re talking about different frame rates, which is kind of cool, working at 48 or 60 frames per second. Movies have been in 24 frames per-second for 1,000 years; we’re talking about changing frame rates which is pretty cool. I think the next big invention with 3D would be a glasses free version. I think everybody would love not to have to wear those glasses. So, there are some exciting technologies coming down but I think the thing with all of the technology is that it has to serve the story.

Q. TRON: Legacy has been touted as this year’s Avatar. How big are the stakes and are you feeling the pressure to match box office achievements of that film?
Joseph Kosinski: Well, I don’t think anybody would want their first film compared with the most successful movie of all time! The truth is there’s certainly some technology in Avatar that we’ve built on, particularly the cameras that James Cameron developed for Avatar. We really got to use the next generation versions for our film. Ours was conceived as a 3D film from the start, three years ago, and two years before Avatar came out. We knew we wanted to make a 3D movie. So, we didn’t cut any corners in terms of the quality of the 3D.

I think we’ve got the highest quality image that it’s possible to get. We shot the whole thing in 3D and we finished the whole thing in 3D. I think stylistically it couldn’t be more different. Pandora and the Grid couldn’t be more different and they’re kind of the opposite ends of the spectrum. But I think it’s a movie that takes you into another world, so I think in that sense, it’s similar.

Q. You had 62 weeks in post-production after working with the actors on set, so did you find yourself surrendering to technology?
Joseph Kosinksi: No, it’s still a very collaborative project in post too. Once the live action is done then it was me and my team of 200 artists at Visual Domain in Los Angeles, and then my network of hundreds of thousands of artists all over the world, so the crew changed out but it’s still the same process. Movies like this… I don’t think people realise quite how many people it takes behind the scenes to bring this to life.

There are certainly days 62 weeks out from finishing where it can become a little tedious. I used to have these dreams a year ago where I was running through wet cement, because that’s sometimes what it feels like. It’s a two hour movie that’s spread out over three and a half years, which is about a minute a week. So, that’s the kind of progress you make and it requires some patience. But it feels good to be done.