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To celebrate the release of TRON Legacy on Blu-ray and DVD on April 5, The Movie Pool recently had the chance to sit in on Q&A sessions with the Oscar-winning minds behind the sensational visual effects in the film.
Rather than editing down Barba's comments, we decided to present the Q&A in its entirety.
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Now that Tron Legacy has been viewed by the masses, how was the reception of Jeff Bridges’ rejuvenation?Eric Barba: The overall reception to Clu was good. What was the most rewarding part of this film for you?Barba: I honestly enjoyed working with so many talented artists.
If you could do something over for Tron Legacy, what would it be?Barba: As an artist, you are never really finished. What creations in Legacy are uniquely yours?Barba: One of the cool parts of my job is working collaboratively with everybody.
When you look at the art work, you would think it would be easy but once you get the live action and a moving camera, it's actually a challenge to make everything work visually and still be interesting. Seven Films That Left Us HangingAlternate Movie Endings That Are Better Than the Real EndingThe Star Trek Controversy: CBS and Paramount vs. Barba won an Academy Award (shown below) for his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. How did you visually tie the original film and the sequel?Barba: I don't think the original film limited Joe.
When you have a highly motivated team that just can't wait to get to work in the morning, that makes the whole thing fun.
Joe was great with everybody and I would throw out ideas and show him things to see what he thought. It is one of many David Fincher-directed projects that Barba has worked on, including Zodiac and a number of his commercials. Joe wanted to bring the original idea back, and make the new light cycle an evolution of the original.Q.
That sequence went through a lot of changes and complex problem solving and I was very happy with the final result of the team's efforts.Q. I think Joe had a really clear vision of what he wanted to do and he embraced the evolution of the grid.Q. Then when they see the final result and are happy to have spent their time working on it, it makes it very rewarding.Q. But the realities of making a movie mean that at some point you have to let go or it gets ripped from your clutching fingers. What experiences from Tron Legacy are valuable to you now?Barba: I'm working on a few projects with Joe Kosinski actually.
What was your favorite part of working on Tron Legacy?Barba: I really enjoyed working with so many talented artists.
In relation to your earlier movies - for example Button - is there a fundamental change in the workflow?Barba: The "Button" workflow was a challenge in that it hadn't been done before. Did you try to create something to be as mind-blowing as the original movie or it was all about evolution?Barba: Of course. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring film makers who want to get into vfx?Barba: I always tell people who ask me that question, it's always the basics that help the most. From a visual effects standpoint, so much had to be invented and live up to what we all remembered and loved about the original Tron.Q.
We took everything we learned from "Button" and then strapped it on the entire Tron universe, and Stereo 3D.
It was my goal to make the film as visually stunning as possible, but only the audience can tell me if we were successful.Q. From Joe to every single artist, there was a sense of making something that had to live up to what came before, and we felt we had to give 200 percent.
What was the most time consuming scene when it comes to special effects?Barba: The shots that involved Clu were the most time consuming. Also the fireworks scene after Clu captures him - were you subtly referencing Disneyland there also?Barba: I'm not sure who came up with the idea but we all wanted to do something fun. How did you maintain that consistency, from a visual effects point of view, given there were so many shots and a number of vendors?Barba: I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that. Concerning the tools you used, what are the trends on the software- and work flow-side of films? Do you prefer working on invisibles effects for David Fincher (Zodiac, Button) or on spectacular effects ?Barba: I enjoy both. We weren't trying to reference Disneyland, but we did hide something fun in the fireworks.Q. Anybody can learn the software, but if you don't have the fundamentals, you won't know what to do with it.Q. How was it different working for a first time director such as Joe Kosinski contrast with working with a veteran like David Fincher?Barba: Joe didn't act or work like a first time director.
The lighting in that scene provided challenges and we spent a lot of time making all of it work.Q.
We worked very hard with our outsource partners to give them every tool we had to help them succeed.
And (given the choice) what are your preferred tools?Barba: We have seen Maya become the standard for 3d animation. What was the hardest thing you had to design for the film?Barba: The hardest thing (other than Clu) was the look and feel of the Disc Game sequence.

What was it that inspired you to get your line of work in the first place?Barba: Like a lot of artists in the visual effects world, I was inspired by everything from Star Wars to the original Tron film.
During the disc scene, was I mistaken or was some of that influenced by the arcade game Disc of Tron?Barba: I loved playing Disc of Tron as a teenager, but it wasn't our inspiration. Every director works differently based on their own experiences, and Joe brought his vision as strongly as any director I've worked with.Q.
The 3D effects in the final film are seamless, how long did that take?Barba: Thank you so much for that nice remark.
And I think during the time Tron Legacy was in production, Nuke has become the standard for compositing.Q.
But what got me intrigued with visual effects, was the idea that computers could be used as art and design tools to help make things that we hadn't seen before.Q.
The facial expressions on Jeff Bridges were more realistic in the grid than in the Real-World-Sequences.
Then on the back end, finishing a shot in 3D means it has to work with the shots around it. Is facial animation and replacement of characters easier in fully animated exteriors?Barba: All of the facial expressions were driven by Jeff, and made from his facial movements. What are your thoughts on the uncannny valley and how it pertains to this movie?Barba: I have property in the Uncanny Valley. What in particular are you the most proud of in terms of pushing the envelope of effects?Barba: I come from the artist side of things, so I really enjoy making great looking work.
I got to work on SeaQuest DSV at the very beginning and was involved in helping setup a workflow when it hadn't been done on a network show before. How do you feel about the original film?Barba: The original film has a very warm spot with my inner child. I have to wear my technical hat to push the envelope but I am surrounded by an amazing team that helps figure all the really hard stuff out. How important was the early test that was created (and shown to audiences) in realizing the final vfx and approach to the film?Barba: To me it was a starting point. What would you say to an aspiring filmmaker trying to get their foot in the door?Barba: Kick the door open.
At last year's Comic-Con I had the chance to interview part of the cast and crew and one of the things I learned was the importance of the Daft Punk soundtrack before starting a take, to settle the mood. Make a small movie with whatever tools you have available, tell a story, and then do it again. Any plans to redo the effects for the Blu-ray like the Star Wars Special Editions?Barba: Not at this time.
Tests don't always have the resources you'd like, so it's natural to know you can do much better if given the chance.Q. I tell young artists that one of the best director reels I've seen was a guy who shot everything in his bedroom on a hi8 camera, and he was the star. Did you feel a lot of pressure because of the original film?Barba: Yes, we felt a huge burden of living up to what all the Tron fans would want this movie to look and feel like.
Did you also create "invisible effects"in the film, for example to erase or correct things we should not see?
The whole 3D process was new to me and my team, and the rules had not been written, nor the tools when we started. Were you ever present on the set of 'Legacy' or were you working only after all of the shooting was done?Barba: I started on the film before most of the department heads or even the line producer was brought on. Can you cite some specific examples?Barba: There are plenty of invisible effects in the film. I was on set every day during production and probably, next to Joe, had one of the longest runs on it.Q.
After winning an Oscar are you given more creative leeway when working on a project?Barba: The Oscar win was an incredible experience to say the least. The first film made an indelible mark on me, and that was a tall order for us to live up to.Q.
One good example might be that Jeff Bridges did not sport his natural beard for the shoot and there were digital retouches to the fake beard.Q.
Which movie out of all of your projects is your favorite and why?Barba: Movie projects are like kids. Did you play with 3-D effects to enhance some visual effects?Barba: 3D is another tool for a filmmaker to use to help the audience feel immersed in the story. What was your favorite sequence in Tron Legacy, as a fan?Barba: As a fan, the Safe House Sequence, where Sam meets his dad after all the years. How hard was it to do these visually amazing scenes, but still keep the feel of the original film?Barba: The hard part was both technical and artistic.
And that's just trying to give whatever director I am working with the best possible solution to their visual problem, whether that be in artistry or technical execution.
Obviously, taking home a little gold statue makes one stand out, but you still love them all.Q.
Did you feel constrained by the look and world setup by the first movie?Barba: I never felt constrained, but it did take me a bit to figure out what the world should look like once we had the live action plates. There was a balance in Joe's vision that had to be worked out from art work to finished shot.

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