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The Metaverse and The Matrix

As the digital dystopia of the metaverse edges closer, y2k’s sexiest sci fi, The Matrix (1999) feels ever more relevant. 

The cinema hit illustrated the ability of characters to travel within the Matrix through phone handsets and dial-up ISDN lines despite it being released a decade before Apple dropped the first model of its iconic iPhone. 

2021’s sequel “The Matrix Resurrections” celebrated the ever growing tangibility of the iconic movie and gives it a modern resonance. While the 1999 original had an overall green tonal look – to mimic corporate computer screens of the time – this time around, cinematographer Daniele Massaccesi opted for a more neutral look.  

“This time our look for the Matrix world is more colourful, like a postcard, while the depiction of the real world remains cooler and darker with more contrast,” explains Massaccesi. “In Resurrections, the Matrix has been designed so humans in the real world find the simulacra to be believable. It is therefore photoreal and full of colour.”

Another massive difference to acknowledge is that the 1999 original was, of course, shot on film. This time around, “Resurrections” takes advantage of the versatility of digital and worked with Red Ranger Helium cameras shooting 6K.

Gordon Spurs, creative designer of the graphic studio, Studio C has also commented in interviews about the importance of the film’s audio signature as well as its visuals. He says the team listened to plenty of Massive Attack as a way of focusing on “the design as a whole”. We love to see it. 

For the most part, Jones explains Studio C was entrusted to produce its own vision of what the graphics should look like for touch points across the film’s more than 20 sets in San Francisco and Berlin, like computer screens and handheld devices. Of course, there were other elements that were “off limits”, says graphic supervisor Sam Jones. These are the graphics you might expect, like the iconic dripping code.

A posing challenge was to maintain consistency as well as evolution with and from the original 1999 film – set 60 years prior the setting of this 2021 picture. Jones explains one of the ways this continuity has been embedded is through references to previous films’ UI and typographic elements. “The idea was to make the world feel like an evolution, instead of something new,” he says.

One of the most marked updates is the introduction of Synthients [robotic creatures] to human ship crews. “Working on the premise that these friendly robotic-synthetic hybrids had helped the rebels reconstruct their technology, our UI became informed by these machines and as a consequence is more organised, structured and sharper, more optical than previous UI,” he explains.

Then there were the all new graphics needed for onscreen interactions with actors. “With something like the hero sequence for Thomas Anderson inspecting his Modal, most of the discussion revolved around the scripted structure of the scene,” Spurs says. “We had to make sure we had the main beats built into a Unity App for Keanu to perform with on the day.”

Have you seen the latest Matrix? 

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