Read our interview with Academy Award-winning Head of Animation Steve Preeg, who worked on the visual effects on the box office smash ‘Tron: Legacy.’ The sci-fi film, which is the sequel to the cult 1982 classic ‘Tron,’ is set to be released on DVD and a special 5-disc 3D Blu-ray edition on April 5, 2011. Preeg discusses, among other things, what the hardest part of working on the movie’s animation was, and how he got involved with the project.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Question (Q): What was the hardest part of the animation in ‘Tron: Legacy?’
Steve Preeg (SP): For sure the hardest part was Clu (who is played by Jeff Bridges); bringing a human being to the screen has long been considered impossible in CGI, as humans are very used to looking at other humans faces. Avoiding what is known as the uncanny valley is what we all face in this industry in regards to this type of work.
Q: What was it like working with a first-time director like Joe Kosinski? Did it contrast to working with a veteran like David Fincher (who helmed ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’)?
SP: They are both great filmmakers. With David you expect him to give great direction and explain exactly what he wants, and he does. As a first time director, I was amazed at how similar Joe was to David. Joe is very clear on what he wants; he had everything in his head of what he wanted. This was a really tough movie to direct for even a seasoned film veteran and Joe took it in stride more than I think anyone thought possible, plus he had a baby right in the middle of production. He is an amazing guy; I would love to work with him again.
Q: Will there be a sequel and if there is will you be involved in it?
SP: I haven’t heard for sure one way or another if there will be a sequel, but it would be a great opportunity to work on it if they do make one.
Q: Was the process of de-aging Jeff Bridges as Clu 2 in ‘Tron: Legacy’ similar to the aging effects applied to Brad Pitt in ‘Benjamin Button?’
SP: There was a lot of similarities as far as the work at Digital Domain itself. The main difference was on the acquisition of the data. With ‘Button’ we captured Brad Pitt months after principal photography. But Jeff Bridges wanted to be captured on set in the moment, which required us to come up with some new hardware as well as software to deal with the difference in the data we were receiving here at Digital Domain.
Q: Will you be involved with the animated series ‘Tron: Uprising’ at all?
SP: At this time I haven’t heard anything about being involved.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in making ‘Tron: Legacy?’
SP: For me personally it was just trying to live up to the legacy of the original ‘Tron.’ That film started the industry in which I work and is kind of considered holy ground by many of my peers, there was a lot of pressure to not screw it up.
Q: What in particular are you the most proud of in terms of pushing the envelope of effects?
SP: I think we are all proud to have made a film that paid appropriate homage to the original film. It was a daunting task and for the most part our work was well received, which was a great relief for us.
Q: Having worked on the third ‘Pirates’ film, where you a part of the 4th film in the series at all?
SP: No, the third film in the series is the only one I was involved with.
To read the rest of this interview, please visit: