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To advocates of predestination, it must have seemed inevitable, this Siamese birth of computer image and computer fantasy in a movie. The only question was, how would Hollywood capitalize on the rapidly developing field of digital scene generation and the hottest pop money-maker in this young decade — video games?

The answer is TRON, an $18 million film from Walt Disney productions promising to be the watershed not only for the video game mania infecting the nation, but for computer-generated movie making. According to one science magazine, the film may be to the 80s what 2001: A Space Odyssey was to the 60s and Star Wars was to the 70s.

Film-makers have used computers for years, but what sets off TRON from its predecessors is its blend of live action with computer-generated imagery. Computer imagery has been used as an "effect" in movies like Star Wars, Looker and West World, but in TRON, computer generated landscapes, buildings, and vehicles provide settings for live-action characters.

Makers of TRON are also setting it off from what is currently considered "computer animation." Said Larry Elin, one of the computer animators of the film: "People are calling motion control' — where you use a computer to control the activity of a real camera photographing a real object — computer animation. I don't think it is. If you start out with a picture, what is the computer creating? It isn't doing anything. It may be manipulating another image being fed in, but it isn't really generating anything."