Study Guide

The Matrix Production Design

Production Design

Worlds of Color

We're not talking about the Disney water show; this is much more subtle. If you haven't already read the Setting section, we recommend you go there for all the big differences between the real world and the world of the Matrix. But there's still more we need to cover, and it's maybe something you didn't notice when watching the movies, but probably felt or experienced.

We're talking about differences in color. In the Matrix, the color green has a special emphasis. It's hard to point out, but now that we've mentioned it you would probably notice it here and there if you re-watched the movie. There's the club scene where Neo meets Trinity (which has a very obvious use of green light) but for most scenes it's an undertone, or maybe a highlight. It's in Trinity's initial fight scene, in Neo's room, in the rainy car scene, and in the final fight scenes like the lobby and the subway.

Now let's take a step into the real world and feel that bright blue sky. Well, okay, the sky is pretty bleak, but there is actually a lot of blue light in these scenes to contrast with the greens of the Matrix. When Neo is first inside the Nebuchadnezzar being rehabilitated we see blues in the clothing and the sheets, the electrical pulses and engines of the hovercraft.

But again, it's also more subtle than that. It's more of an emphasis of blue lighting in general that specific blue objects. It's about the subliminal feel of things that was used to create a subconscious effect. After all, green lighting creates kind of a sickly atmosphere, where blue light is more clinical. You might not love the blue tones that many hospitals have, but you feel reassured by them.

Bullet O'Clock

Then there are things that aren't so subtle. The Matrix uses a groundbreaking special effect that's come to be known as "bullet time." The effect is exactly what you think it is. The camera moves as fast as a bullet, slowing everything else down and allowing for some crazy slow motion shots and stills. It's used from the very beginning when Trinity fights the policemen and of course when Neo is dodging bullets on the rooftop.

The process to get such an effect is incredibly precise and requires a lot of planning and labor. Hundreds of cameras are set along a path used to capture up to 12,000 frames per second. And, with some post-shooting animation jazz that's too complex to get into, we get some sweet slo-mo action that has been integral in giving the Matrix its rise to fame.