Software developer JT Nimoy has an amazing collection of images from Tron Legacy on his site, where he explains all the math, physics, and old-school computer geekery that he put into making Flynn's digital world.
First, he discusses how complicated it was to make computer-generated fireworks that had what seems like a kind of 8-bit feel.
About the fireworks, Nimoy says:
I started with a regular physics simulation where a particle has an upward force applied at birth, sending it upward while gravity pulls it back down resulting in a parabola. I then added particle-children, followed by various artistic styles, including what our team has called "egyptian" across several jobs — which is a side-stepping behavior. We were trying to create fireworks that looked enough like real fireworks but had interesting techno-aesthetic. As a homage to the original Tron character Bit, we used icosahedrons, dodecahedrons, and similar. I was disappointed that Bit isn't in this one. After doing this simulation, I've grown more aware of how often fireworks are used in movies.
You can see the fireworks he developed in the gallery.
I love Nimoy's discussion of how the old-school, totally awesome GNU emacs editor wound up in the movie:
In addition to visual effects, I was asked to record myself using a unix terminal doing technologically feasible things. I took extra care in babysitting the elements through to final composite to ensure that the content would not be artistically altered beyond that feasibility. I take representing digital culture in film very seriously in lieu of having grown up in a world of very badly researched user interface greeble. I cringed during the part in Hackers (1995) when a screen saver with extruded "equations" is used to signify that the hacker has reached some sort of neural flow or ambiguous destination. I cringed for Swordfish and Jurassic Park as well. I cheered when Trinity in The Matrix used nmap and ssh (and so did you). Then I cringed again when I saw that inevitably, Hollywood had decided that nmap was the thing to use for all its hacker scenes (see Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Listening, 13: Game of Death, Battle Royale, Broken Saints, and on and on). In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance — splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie. I actually do use emacs irl, and although I do not subscribe to alt.religion.emacs, I think that's all incredibly relevant to the world of Tron.
I guess the lesson here is that nmap is overexposed? I just don't think that's possible.
More GNU emacs!