Vehicle designer Daniel Simon sat down with BOXOFFICE to provide a tour of the new TRON: Legacy light cycle. Check out its amazingly detailed design now so you can appreciate its full glory in IMAX. Click on the link below to pop up the full schematic.
1) It's a hub-less wheel because that's such a visual key to making something look more futuristic because it's so hard to achieve in a real world. When you have spokes, you see how fast the wheels are turning. When you don't have spokes, it looks like it would float. It really exists—there are some show cars that have wheels like this—but it's still not appropriate for everyday use because if you have to hold a wheel in place on the outside just by physics, it's difficult, expensive and would probably break really fast.
2) The wheels are completely closed. In the front, they're open because when Joe films Garrett on you need to see some movement of the tire. If you look from the front, there's a big cutout—as a designer, you have to accommodate what the director envisions for the shot.
3) If you were to put a black box in TRON's environment, it would disappear. We used the light lines to show the features. There are certain parts where you angle the plastic in so you know the reflection is going to hit it.
4) We're so sleek with our design—it's so quiet, not like a normal science fiction movie with gadgets and flingy things. We're so sleek that sometimes we have to break the surface, say with glass, and show an engine spinning to give the director something to play with. We put the engine behind glass so that when the bike stops, we see the engine stops.
5) It was hard to balance on, to be honest, because it's such an unusual position. We don't know how practical it would be in the real world because you put a lot of pressure on your chest. But it looks awesome on film and that's what we're here for.
6) Syd Mead (the original designer) came up with this position because, apparently, it's more aerodynamic and aggressive—plus it's so distinct.
7) We had to design the bottom of the bike because there are so many action shots where it banks and you can see it from the bottom. Most movie vehicles, you don't have to take care of that. That's why I wrapped this shell around. I even designed some light lines on the bottom of the bike that I know will look good in the reflection on the street. You put that reflection on the ground into your design and you play with that.
8) We've covered the back of the rider because we want to show the energy from the disc - which is so iconic—to the bike. Those light lines wrap into the helmet and blend the rider to the bike.
9) Joe (Kosinski, director) asked how the gears would work because he though he'd have some close-up shots of his foot. The foot packs are almost true functionality. Nothing is a weird liquid. Joe wanted this to look like a real world. Metal and paint and leather and rubber.
10) I'm a big car nerd getting paid for designing stuff that doesn't really work—but the big challenge is to make people believe that it works. For me, the making-of-Tron book was almost as inspirational as the movie itself. They didn't have the technology to do everything that the artists wanted to do back then, but you can see it in their artwork. The challenge is that it's almost more creature design than feature design. It's got a face - you can't cheat because there's a real rider on it who has legs and bones.
11) The slot is the emitter where the light well comes out—it has its own power source and you can turn it on and off. For the images where you see the inside, we created circuit-board-style connectors that feed the emitter in the back and create that enormous, powerful wall of light.