Poster, 'The Matrix', paper, made for Australian Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. Pictures, USA / Australia, 2003
The Matrix trilogy was produced by Australian Village Roadshow and Warner Bros Pictures and mostly shot in Sydney between 1999 and 2003. The series is based on a cyberpunk story which references various philosophical and religious ideas, mythology, Japanese anime and Hong Kong action films. The films used a wide range of innovative special effects.
This limited release teaser poster was used to promote the Australian release of the final two films in the series. It features the distinctive, eye-catching Matrix 'digital rain' typeface code designed at Animal Logic in Sydney. (1) All three Matrix movies open with this 'computer code' which comprises 'the Matrix'. One of the characteristic special visual elements of the films, the code, appears as the key design element of the poster.
Surprisingly, the 2003 teaser poster does not feature portraits of the actors or characters. The date and title, '2003, www.The Matrix.com', the innovative use of a reflective metallic 3 dimensional holofoil finish, and the Australian-designed typeface were sufficient to communicate to audiences that the latest in this series of cult science fiction films was about to be released locally. Using the 'digital rain' and a 3D holofoil format for the teaser poster immediately resonated with those who were familiar with The Matrix's innovative special effects, and for people less or unfamiliar with The Matrix film, it created an immediate sense of intrigue.
The Matrix films were the first films to be shot in the newly opened Fox Studios in Sydney and became the first 'big budget trilogy' to be produced in and around the city of Sydney. (2) This helped establish New South Wales as a major film production centre. Indigenous Australian singer and actress, Christine Anu played Lazarus in the final two films.
The 3 dimensional holographic holofoil design of this 2003 Matrix poster echoes the popularity of holofoils for early Game Boy collectables like Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon (Pokemon: The Movie 2000 released 1999), Beyblades collectables and even Harry Potter cards which were sold to young collectors as packs, decks and single cards.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven with Kerry Dougherty, Curators, 2012
(1) Attribution contributed by Lewis Morley, 27 July 2012
(2) The Matrix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix (Accessed 29 July 2012)
The poster was made for Village Roadshow Limited and Warner Bros. Pictures, Australia, 2003. Produced as a lenticular holographic holofoil poster it features the Matrix's iconic 'digital rain' computer typeface code. While holographic presentations are 3D representations using laser light, holofoils are a type of holographic representation using a metallic foil for the projection, in this case a shiny and heavy metallic paper base.
The designer of the customised typeface for the Matrix code was Simon Whiteley. (1) His custom-created alphabet incorporates numbers and symbols from several alphabets and cultures, and made up of mirror images of half-width Japanese Katakana characters and Western Latin letters and numerals. (2) This code is represented in the film as downward flowing characters similar to the way letters and numbers appear in Japanese texts and film credits. This unusual drop down effect, which forms the key element of this Matrix poster, is a highlight of the animating Matrix code.
Lynne Cartwright, the Visual Effects Supervisor at Animal Logic, supervised the creation of the film's opening title sequence, as well as the general look of the animated 'Matrix' code throughout the film, in collaboration with Lindsey Fleay and Justen Marshall. (1) The code relied upon Simon Whiteley's typeface. The brief for the effect to be 'raining' came from the Directors, Larry and Andy Wachowski. (3) The Matrix code received the Runner-up Award in the 1999 Jesse Garson Award for In-film typography or opening credit sequence. (4)
The Matrix digital Rain is sometimes also referred to as 'green rain', and was developed as a way of representing the activity of the virtual reality environment of The Matrix, on screen. Generally, the Matrix design team reserved the distinctive green colour for scenes set within 'the Matrix' or 'virtual world', using blue for scenes set in the 'real world'. (5)
The code resembles old 'green screen' displays where the letters leave a flourescent green trace on the screen. The ways the code is used in The Matrix also resembles the opening credits of the 1995 Japanese cyberpunk film, Ghost in the Shell, which had a strong influence on the Matrix. This code was used in each of the Matrix films and on the related website game, 'Path of Neo'. (5)
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator, January 2013
(1) Information courtesy Lynne Cartwright, Linkedin message to curator, 5 August 2012
(2) Matrix digital rain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrix_digital_rain (Accessed 28 July 2012)
(3) Lynne Cartwright, phone conversation with Curator, Anne-Marie Van de Ven, 11 January, 2013
(4) The [Jessie Garsson] Award for In-film typography or Opening Credit Sequence http://www.phui.com/type/ (Accessed 30 July 2012). See also http://jesseland.phui.com/
(5) The Matrix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix (Accessed 29 July 2012)
This poster, produced as a teaser for the second and third Matrix films released in 2003, was displayed in the 'Special FX: New Secrets behind the screen' exhibition held at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney in 2003.
'The Matrix' was an epic Hollywood blockbuster trilogy directed by brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski and produced by Joel Silver. The first film in this trilogy, 'The Matrix', was released in 1999. The second and third Matrix films, Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, were released during 2003. (1)
All Matrix films, including the second and third films, were largely filmed in Sydney. At the time, by filming in Australia the producers could reduce their budget by about half the cost of shooting in America. This helped them get the 'go ahead' from Warner Bros. However, filming in Sydney was not without its challenges. The location scouts for example found it hard to locate 'burned-out American-ghetto' locations so these scenes had to be specially created from scratch. Filming of the helicopter scene also nearly forced the film to be shutdown as the helicopter flew through restricted Sydney airspace. New South Wales state laws had to be changed to allow The Matrix film to proceed. (2)
The Matrix films are renown for popularising the use of a special visual effect known as 'bullet time' which allows the viewer to explore a moment progressing in slow-motion as the camera appears to orbit around the scene at normal speed. The method used for creating these effects involved a technically expanded version of an old art photography technique known as time-slice photography, in which a large number of cameras are placed around an object and triggered nearly simultaneously. Each camera is a still-picture camera, and not a motion picture camera, and it contributes just one frame to the video sequence. When the sequence of shots is viewed as a movie, the viewer sees what are in effect two-dimensional 'slices' of a three-dimensional moment. Watching such a 'time slice' movie is akin to the real-life experience of walking around a statue to see how it looks from different angles. (3)
1. The Matrix http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix (Accessed 29 July 2012)
2. The Matrix 1999 Did you know? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/trivia (Accessed 30 July 2012)
3. The Matrix http://physbam.stanford.edu/cs448x/old/The_Matrix.html (Accessed 29 July 2012) See also Bullet time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullet_time