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Commentary and Analysis
for the "Secret Lab / Tron Killer App" sequence.

Disney's Tron, 20th anniversary collector's edition two-disc set DVD was released on January 15, 2002. After beginning to play the first disc, a forty second video called "New from the secret lab" is shown before the main menu appears. The following describes and analyzes this sequence.

Disclaimer: This document is for noncommercial, entertainment and educational purposes only. The use of images here is for fairly supporting the commentary and critical analysis--no violation of Disney's copyright is intended. All screens are viewable from the Tron 20th anniversary collector's DVD and are copyright by Disney. In short, this fan-made Web page discusses and speculates on the upcoming "Tron 2.0" movie.

1. Title Screen
The video begins with a "New from the secret lab" title screen and a voiceover saying "Here's what's new from the secret lab." The screen uses titles with words that move into position and stop.

* Analysis *
The entire video is placed before the main menu screen is reached--it could instead have been a menu choice or even hidden as an "easter egg" for fans. Its location ensures everyone views it every time the disc is played. In short, it's meant to be highly visible and seen frequently--Disney wants people to know the Tron sequel is real and being worked on.

As for what "the secret lab" means, there has been speculation about which computer graphics production company is working on Tron 2.0. One company in the running might be Pixar--its John Lasseter had a friend who worked on Tron and was latter inspired by its computer graphics in ultimately making Toy Story. In fact, Mr. Lasseter briefly appears at the end of the disc-two making of Tron documentary and comments on this fact.

The real studio, however, looks like it will be Disney's own in-house special effects / computer graphics department which used to be called Dream Quest Images and is now called "The Secret Lab."

The graphic design of this title sequence is the same as for Disney's Return to Never Land and Atlantis promotional clips, both of which are found in the first disc's Alternate Programs / Sneak Peeks section.

As a side note, there are *three* (this really makes me wonder...) design elements which Atlantis uses from Tron. The first and most obvious is Tron's glowing circuitry design--glowing lines can be seen on craft and objects in Atlantis. The second is the combination of rock object surfaces with glowing lines (revealed as the old MCP himself derezes at Tron's end, and the craft and objects in Atlantis.) The third is the use of blown away panels--seen as the MCP blows apart at Tron's end and when Kida is released from the cabinet in Atlantis.

the classic logo
2. Opening Logo
This scene contains the title "Tron Killer App" atop a pulsing blue sphere with shaded blue and blue/green arcs revolving around it--each arc both spins about its own axis and revolves around the sphere. There are also moving line fragments (black, gray, and white), as well as gray block-like shapes just entering from the right.

* Analysis *
The new typeface letters for Tron are slightly different from the classic logo--notably, the T and R characters are joined with a diagonal stroke and the R is missing its leftmost stroke. Compare this to the classic logo typeface and you'll see the new title maintains the original's visual style while adding a hip and modern element. Perhaps this is one design goal for Tron 2.0 itself?

The words "killer app" are in a thinner typeface than the word "Tron" just above. The thin letters, also in a sans-serif typeface, gives it contrast. Its letterforms make it appear more modern but impersonal--perhaps even industrial. It's almost as if something familiar but old has been slightly updated (the word Tron) and combined with something more modern but... cold and impersonal (the words killer app). Is this what awaits us in the sequel?

"Killer App" may mean two things. Its common definition refers to a wonderful ("killer" in slang) program that runs on a new computer system which, for the first time, legitimatizes the system and makes it widespread and popular.

Taken literally, it may also refer to a program (or code like a virus) which is destructive--literally, a program that kills. It's unclear if the movie will ultimately be called Tron Killer App.

Now on to the background. The inner circle may represent a core destination or place, vibrant with activity. Like most objects in the original movie, blue is the "good" color of the protagonists. The revolving arcs may represent linked or networked components each separate in itself but connected with the central object. Shaded blue and blue/green arcs may represent different but still "friendly" components. The grayscale moving lines may represent several types of data or programs being transferred. The larger blocky shapes may represent much larger data or programs being transferred.

3. The Tron Website
This scene simulates a computer screen. The menubar has menus for "i", edit, view, bookmarks, window, and assist. The desktop background has a detailed but mostly obscured wireframe object.

A Web browser-like window is also open. Its menubar has options for WebIcanner (that's how it looks like it's spelled), Tron, Games, a minimize button, maximize button, and a close box "X" button. The window toolbar has browser-like buttons for forward, back, reload, stop, a URL bar (currently with the URL of ""), and a page-loading throbber.

The window itself contains buttons titled--and these have light cycle pictures in front of them--"download from Tron Killer App", "download Tron Deadly Discs", and "download Maze-A-Tron." A mouse cursor moves upward over all three, stops over "download Tron Deadly Discs", then clicks. Other buttons here are Tron (with Sark's carrier behind it), news, images, toys, music, and games. An image of the Japanese theatrical poster for Tron is on the right side of the window.

* Analysis *
The menubars seem to be a cross between Mac OS 9 with the "i" in the upper left-side position usually reserved for the Apple menu, and Windows with the box-like minimize, maximize, and close buttons.

The bookmarks menu item reflects being in a Web browser program, as does the toolbar with its navigation buttons and URL entry line. As of February 2002, does not lead to a Website and generates an error message. WHOIS and NSLOOKUP also generate no results. The cursor moving over the buttons simulates the rollover buttons in Web pages. In short, this screen simulates a Tron Website. :-)

The World-Wide Web wasn't yet a reality when the movie was released in 1982. People could, however, use a personal computer with a modem and dial up to a mainframe computer to view textual information and exchange files. One of Tron's themes was about fighting a central system--central systems were common then and still are today (as supercomputers.) The role of the mainframe has given way to the server--it's still a central computer for distributing files, but the program running on the user's computer takes on more of the processing duties.

The Web became "the thing" in the 1990s and is used today for education, commerce, entertainment, and more. It's part of society and it seems certain a network of some sort will play a major role in Tron 2.0. Since the original Tron had elements and a perspective on computing's future, it's quite possible Tron 2.0 will have a similar perspective on the Internet's future.

4. Downloading TRON_KillerApp.exe
After the cursor clicks the "download Tron Killer App" button, a window appears with a blue progress bar. It has a heading of "Download: TRON_KillerApp.exe" above a progress bar which is progressing toward year markings of 1981, 1982, 2000, 2002, and 2003. A status area on the window notes how much of the file has been downloaded--the file's total size is 5.3MB.

* Analysis *
The bar is meant to associate downloading a file (a program actually, as it ends with ".exe") with the progression through Tron's key historical events.

1981: Perhaps Tron began production this year?

1982: Tron was released on July 9, 1982 (according to the Internet Movie Database) in the United States.

2000: Perhaps the Tron sequel began production this year?

2002: The Tron 20th anniversary collector's edition two-disc set DVD was released on January 15, 2002.

2003: This year is supposed to mark the release of Tron's sequel. Video games for the PC and XBox (or will that be the PlayStation 2 instead?!?) video game unit are also rumored to be due.

As for the file's size, it's unknown what 5.3 really represents. Perhaps it alludes to a future event of importance--May of '03? We shall see. :-)

As a side note, the font used in this window appears to be OCR-A (or OCRAM; this version has an underscore character), which is a typeface used for optical character recognition--the machine reading of real-world printed material. This seems an appropriate typeface choice given Tron's real world / electronic world theme.

Another thing to ponder is the choice of OCR-A from its variation of OCR-B. The A variation is meant to be more readable by machines (more straight line letterforms) while still readable to people, and the B variation is more readable by people (with more round letterforms) though slightly less accurately recognizable to machines. Perhaps A was chosen to emphasize the machine aspect?

5. Entering the Electronic World
The camera's point of view zooms through the screen as the blue progress bar moves toward 1982. The camera passes into the screen--note the red, green, and blue dots--and a rocky electronic world is shown. A blue ring tube moves forward--the game grid and towers can be seen off in the distance.

* Analysis *
Similar to the first light cycle sequence with Sark racing in Tron, we have passed through the screen into the electronic world. The advancing blue progress bar is represented here by the blue ring tube. The rocky landscape may represent the production process of making the movie. ;-) Of course, we can see the final result over the horizon--where the camera is going.

6. The 1982 Gate
The blue progress tube passes through a gate marked as 1982.

* Analysis *
The progress tube has reached a milestone, 1982, the year of Tron's release in United States.

7. The Game Grid
The blue progress tube continues toward the game grid in which we travel down to see light cycles (looking backward we see their blue and yellow light trails), recognizers, and tanks (which are firing "v" shaped projectiles at the camera.)

* Analysis *
This sequence represents the movie itself. All of Tron's memorable vehicles, with the exception of the solar sailor and Sark's carrier, are here. One might guess that since these models now exist, it might be easy to place them in the Tron sequel, right? We can hope. :-)

8. The 2000 Gate
The blue progress tube passes through a gate marked 2000, and continues past towers. An IO tower with a diagonal red beam is seen in the distance.

* Analysis *
It's unknown what significance 2000 holds for the move--maybe it marks the year when work began on Tron's sequel?

As for another 2000 event, the much anticipated Y2K computer date miscalculation problem was expected to take place on January 1st--thankfully, nothing significant materialized.

9. The 2002 IO Tower
We continue past the towers and toward an IO tower. The date 2002 is marked above an entry point in which the blue progress tube passes into.

* Analysis *
2002 marks the release of the Tron 20th anniversary collector's edition DVD. The two-disc set features a new "Making of Tron" feature (which is really excellent), material previously only available on the Tron laserdisc, and a "teaser" for Tron's sequel.

10. The Passageway
The blue progress tube enters a brilliant kaleidoscopic-like passageway which resembles the Tron sequence where Flynn is dematerialized and brought into the electronic world (before the tube and electronic landscape are seen.)

* Analysis *
It's strange this passageway sequence resembles the entry into an electronic world as, we are led to believe at this point, we are already in the electronic world behind the screen. Hmmm... Anyhow, the passageway is brief and we see a room up ahead.

11. Inside the IO Tower
Now fully inside the IO tower, a room is revealed with brightly colored images quickly floating by. Seen in real time, it's nearly impossible to focus on any single image as this brief sequence is bedazzling with a fountain of color and motion.

Going frame by frame, however, the images can be concentrated on. It seems there are 25 or so common images which are repeated. These pictures are of the electronic world's environment--no people or vehicles are seen.

I've grouped the images according to three overall color groups (with a few exceptions.)

These pages will open in a new window.

Blue "B" images

Red "R" images

White "W" images

* Analysis *
This is the most exciting part of the "New from the secret lab" video. Perhaps they are test or actual images from Tron's sequel? Without a concept for Tron 2.0's plot, it's hard to understand what these are--so your guess is as good as mine. Some might be tools or areas of new games, or perhaps operational areas of the electronic world.

Whatever these are, they have the shapes, colors, and glow effects of the original movie's visual style. None of the blue or red images seen here are particularly visually new, but the white ones are admittedly different and intriguing (and cool looking!)

One part of Tron's appeal in 1982 was a visual style which was vastly different from all movies coming before it. If Tron 2.0 also wishes to be visually new, it will have to branch out in new visual directions instead of presenting an extrapolation of the original movie's design style. At the end of the Making of Tron video segment on disc two, concept sketches for Tron 2.0 are presented which do in fact have a different look. It's unknown how many of these visual stylings will play a part in the new move.

12. 2003, Download Complete
As the blue progress tube reaches the end of the room, the number 2003 can be seen--the far end wall also has a yellow 2D representation of an IO tower. Back at the progress window in the real world, the blue bar reaches the end and the words "Download complete" appear. TRON_KillerApp.exe is now fully loaded.

* Analysis *
Since the last number marked on the progress window was 2003, it looks like a major Tron related event will happen then. There have been magazine reports that a Tron 2.0 videogame will be released in 2003--and most likely a movie to tie into it. ;-) Early reports suggest the game will appear on the PC and Microsoft's XBox videogame console--although another report suggests it will be out for Sony's Playstation 2 instead.

Well, it appears Tron 2.0 will finally be released in 2003--yay! :-)

13. Closing Logo
The same "Tron Killer App" logo from the beginning appears. This time, a blue Website address is shown: The MCP's "end of line" phrase is spoken and the video ends.

* Analysis *
Yes, this is the end... but the URL seems to be a Website promoting... something related to the Tron sequel. :-) Some people have reported difficulty getting past the second-level screen. One suggestion is to try the link with the 20th anniversary DVD inserted.

* Final Analysis *

"New from the secret lab" is both an attention grabber and a peek into Tron's sequel. Judging by the teaser's hints, fans can expect to see both familiar and new things in the sequel which expand the concept of Tron--but how many vastly new things will be seen remains an open question. Will Tron 2.0 push the visual envelope in the same way the original did in 1982?

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