Tron Solar Sailor

October 2010 ––
For the entirety of 2010, munkowitz led a Black-Ops team of GFX All-Stars deep into the darkness at Digital Domain crafting over 12 minutes of holographic content for the feature film TRON: Legacy Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Output

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Sequence Overview

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The Solar Sailor sequence was definitely the most conceptually challenging for the team and the output munko is most proud of. The design exercise started with a very loose brief from Joe –– he wanted the representation of Quorra's DNA to be "beautiful, like a flower" and wanted layers of transforming and organic surfaces for Sam and Flynn to navigate through to unveil it.

Once descending upon the DNA, Flynn was to identify the ‘damaged code’ in its composition and extract it, healing her data with a blow, allowing her arm to grow back. And conceptually, because she's an ISO – an isometric algorithm – her DNA and the outer layers of her data foundation had to all be super-unique, resembling artifacts from nature, yet still remaining very graphic and design driven.

The team referenced a lot of Ernst Haeckel, the German Biologist who rendered by hand surreal organisms that resembled graphic prismatic coral structures, if you will. He was one of the primary inspirations since all of designs in the sequence had to look and behave like they could be living organisms, like flowers, while respecting a graphic structural rule book.

The team also researched infinite fractals, hexagonal mesh cages and studied data visualizations of voronoi noise algorithms and isometric surfaces. In the end, all of this research informed the structural designs in the sequence.

Hex Sphere Design Development

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The outermost layer of her data composition was the 'Hexsphere' which was the containing shell to all the deeper levels of data within. The Hexsphere sought to align with the hexagon metaphor used throughout the film, so this initial layer had the most commonality with its surrounding world.

Cinema 4D Mograph Screenshot

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Once through the outer layers of the hexSphere, Flynn breaks through to the IsoSurface coined the ‘Contour Heart’. The heart was a Josh Nimoy Open-Frameworks creation and visually quite delicious.

Contour Heart Application Screenshot

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The Contour Heart was Nimoy's finest creation, and also his most complex. Working with munkowitz and Sargeant during its initial development enabled for maximum iterations in the stylings of each layer, allowing multiple renders of it to be composited together into a massive layering of graphic goodness.

Voronoi Shell Design Development

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The IsoSurface, housing Quorra's DNA, had to be broken down and unwrapped in order to be accessed. To accomplish this, Flynn used a Voronoi Noise algorithim that suspended the heart by spherically wraping around it, allowing Flynn to wade through an web-like interface to break open the DNA.

Quorra DNA Design Development

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The initial design for the DNA closely resembled a cylindrical cloud of large data blocks, full of undulating life and recycling itself in a perpetual motion. Upon receiving key conceptual notes from Kosinski, the later designs took on a triple Helix structure that was enclosed by the broken down Voronoi mesh from the previous 'stage' of Flynn's navigation. The damaged code in the DNA was represented as hot glowing orange data forks in stark contrast to the unifying cool tones of the healthy bands of data.

Quorra Damaged Code Design Development

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Kosinski's mandate of the Data 'flower' had a few exploration cycles, but in the end they settled on an easily intelligible read of a floral element; they definitely tried to make it tough looking – exploring point clouds, energy plumes and fiber-optic conglomerations. Everything they threw at it failed miserably, and a flower it shall be.

Design Director, Lead Designer

for Disney Enterprises
Solar Sailor Credit List

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Production Facility: Digital Domain
Executive Producer: Lisa Beroud
VFX Supervisor: Eric Barba
Graphics Design Director: Bradley G Munkowitz
Graphics Lead Designers: Bradley G Munkowitz, Jake Sargeant
Graphics Designers: David Lewandowski, Adam Swaab, Joseph Chan
Graphics Lead Hex Sphere Animator: David Lewandowski
Graphics Lead DNA Animator: Adam Swaab
Graphics Animators: Bradley G Munkowitz, Jake Sargeant, Joseph Chan
Graphics Lead Compositors: Stefano Trivelli, Jan Cilliers, Salima Needham
Graphics Compositors: Bradley G Munkowitz, Jake Sargeant
Graphics Code Artist: Josh Nimoy
Graphics Code Artist Support: Andy King
Graphics Technical Support: Jonathan Gerber, Doug Wilkenson

TRON: Legacy © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.