For ‘Matrix’ fans, much more on the wayWarner Brothers has ambitiously dubbed 2003 “The Year of the Matrix” in anticipation of the next two sequels to the 1999 blockbuster “The Matrix.”
But “The Year of the Matrix” is about more than two eye-popping films. There will be tie-ins, video games and who knows what else. But perhaps most impressive will be a collection of nine animated shorts titled “The Animatrix.”
“The Animatrix” will utilize the talents of several of the top animators in the world. Hand-picked by the Wachowski brothers (the writer, directors and all-around creative force behind all things Matrix), these animators will create nine, 6- to 16-minute short films to explore the history, breadth and depth of the Matrix.
One of the feature talents in this release will be the Korean-American Peter Chung. Mr. Chung is best known for his MTV series “Aeon Flux,” as well as his scores of other short projects and advertisements.
Mr. Chung’s film “Matriculated” clocks in at 16 minutes, making it the longest single film in “The Animatrix” series. “Matriculated” is the story of a small band of rebel humans who capture one of the Matrix’s sentient robots and reprogram it to join their side and fight the robots. Unfortunately, they teach it too well to prefer the “human matrix,” and things start to go wrong.
Park Soon-hong, a representative of the DNA Seoul animation team that worked with Mr. Chung, said the Wachow-ski brothers liked Mr. Chung’s use of color and images and wanted to use his work as the poster for “The Animatrix.”
Unlike many animators involved in “The Animatrix,” Mr. Chung works almost entirely with two-dimensional, hand-drawn animation. This project was one of his first attempts at mixing in 3-D computer graphics with his two-dimensional work, and he says that he was fascinated by the challenge.
In addition to Mr. Chung’s segment, there is one directed by an American animator. “Final Flight of the Osiris” is an all-computer segment made by the veteran Andy Jones, best known for his work as an animation supervisor on the computer-generated feature film “Final Fantasy.”
The remaining shorts are all done by Japanese animators.
Kawajiri Yoshiaki, a founding member of the Madhouse studio and creator of features such as “Ninja Scroll” and “Vampire Hunter D,” created “Program,” about a Samurai training program that is forced to choose between reality and fantasy.
Watanabe Shinichiro, director of the famous and ultra-hip Japanese TV series “Cowboy Bebob,” presents a film-noir detective story.
Maeda Mahiro, who directed “Blue Submarine No. 6” and was the first Japanese animator to combine traditional two-dimensional with computerized 3-D animation, tells the history of the Matrix’s origins in “Second Renaissance.”
Some of “The Animatrix” is being shown each month on the Web (www.theanimatrix.com), and the entire package will be released on DVD in June.
by Jung Hyun-mok