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The digital rain, a code visualization of the Matrix, is seen in the opening sequences of the Matrix films, on monitors in the real world and in various shapes and colors. It seems to be made up of random glyphs and characters, sometimes mirrored, some Japanese, some Arabic numerals.

enter image description hereenter image description here

Is there any distinguishable pattern or meaning to it, that can be seen in the films (or any of the canonical works)? Or is it simply random, meant purely as a visual effect?

Also: When it takes a 3D shape, as it does some times with Neo (and in the opening sequence of Reloaded for instance), is it not a very low resolution representation of the matrix, as opposed to what Cypher claimed it to be in The Matrix? It seems like even low resolution video would be less consuming of any computer's processing power and produce much more detail.

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    It's made of 1s and 0s. – user8719 Aug 12 '14 at 17:31
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    @DarthSatan - No it's not. I swear I saw a 2 – Valorum Aug 12 '14 at 20:11
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    @Richard - OK, 0, 1 and 2; or blonde, brunette, redhead if it takes yer fancy ;) – user8719 Aug 12 '14 at 20:23
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Per the Powerhouse Museum website

The designer of the customised typeface for the Matrix code was Simon Whiteley. 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. 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. The code relied upon Simon Whiteley's typeface. The brief for the effect to be 'raining' came from the Directors, Larry and Andy Wachowski. The Matrix code received the Runner-up Award in the 1999 Jesse Garson Award for In-film typography or opening credit sequence.

In answer to your specific questions;

  • The sequence appears to be totally random.

  • The code is simply the surface representation of the Matrix, allowing an external viewer to see a low resolution version. This can be seen in the Dojo fight sequence between Morpheus and Neo where we see what the "rain" looks like from Mouse's perspective.

    enter image description here

  • You have to watch the Matrix in raw code.

Neo: Do you always look at it encoded?

Cypher: Well you have to. The image translators work for the construct program. But there’s way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it. I…I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, red-head.

  • I have been meaning to ask: do you mean video for the dojo fight scene be rendered, when for the (actual) matrix it can't? – Adam Jensen Aug 18 '14 at 3:08
  • @AdamJensen - In the dojo fight sequence, we see the matrix through Mouse's eyes (e.g. from outside the simulated matrix). The image quality is heavily degraded and monochromatic. – Valorum Aug 18 '14 at 6:03
  • As we can't comprehend how easy or not it would be to look at the digital rain and understand it as it is, it is impossible to say what would be easier to understand, but I always thought a low quality rendering like what Mouse sees in the dojo scene must be much easier to understand. It seems like the digital rain contains more information like coordinates and attributes (like hair color), but as it is less characters on a screen than pixels in an image, it seems video still is more effective to convey something visually. – Adam Jensen Aug 19 '14 at 3:57
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    @AdamJensen As the quote in Richard's answer says, The image translators work for the construct program. So the Matrix itself can only be seen as code, because they can't access the image translators, while their training simulations can be rendered as video because they control the Construct, and thus they control its image translators. – Nerrolken Oct 23 '14 at 23:53
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    @Nerrolken Ok, I see. I was looking at the training simulation and the matrix as the same thing. – Adam Jensen Oct 24 '14 at 5:33

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