Triple-I (III, Information International)
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Submitted By: Esotek

Triple-I (III, Information International)

Information International Inc, commonly called Triple-I or III, had a core business based on high resolution CRTs which could be used for digital film scanning and digital film output capabilities which were very advanced for the time**.

Triple-I's early involvement with movies made sense (maybe even business sense) because of their advanced CRT technology. Triple-I equipment was used by computer graphics pioneer John Whitney, Sr. for several of his early computer animated films. Triple-I also produced the "robot vision" special effects for Westworld**.

Around 1975, Gary Demos, John Whitney Jr, and Jim Blinn persuaded Triple I management to put together a "movie group" and try to get some "Hollywood dollars". They created various demos that showed the potential for computer graphics to do amazing things, among them the Mercedes Benz logo, a KCET station ID, a 3D scan of Peter Fonda's head, and the ultimate demo, Adam Powers, or "the Juggler". Of course III was very concerned about how they were going to ever make any money on this rapidly escalating movie group, so they were very focused on projects like TRON*. These early demos were done on Triple-I's KA-10 computers, which were old and considered slow even then**.

Triple-I was eventually employed by Disney along with three other companies MAGI/Synthavision, Robert Abel & Associates, and Digital Effects, to create the CGI in TRON. Two of these companies MAGI and Triple-I had the mammoth task of creating the majority of the CGI work which totaled roughly 20 or so minutes worth of the imagery we see in the film.

Unlike MAGI, who used basic geometrical shapes when creating the graphics such as the Light Cycles, Triple-I could create complex multi-curve designs and so were responsible for generating the images of the Solar Sailer, the MCP, and Sark's Carrier, to name a few.

Sark's Carrier Derezzing by Triple-I

When creating the images, they used a digitizing tablet that was approximately 4' x 6' and used the one-of-a-kind Foonly F-1, the fastest PD-10 computer ever built, to generate all of their graphics. The F-1 was roughly 10x the speed of a KA-10**.

Solar Sailer & MCP line drawing by Triple-I

The Foonly F-1 Computer

The F-1 was designed by by Dave Poole, Phil Pettit, and Jack Holloway, and built at Triple-I in Culver City**. For more technical information on the Foonly F-1, visit Dave Sieg's Foonly F-1 Page.

Left: closeup view of the "guts" of the F-1. Right: The F-1 (lower left of the picture, the rest are KA-10 console computers, 2 PFRs, a VAXand pre-historic disk and tape drives) Photos and descriptions courtesy Dave Sieg

The Foonly F-1 was such an important tool in the creation of TRON that Richard Taylor, visual effects supervisor, said, "If it ever really broke down in some major way, we would not have made the movie".

Triple-I abandoned the movie business in 1980, but the F-1 followed Gary Demos through his next several movie ventures, until it was eventually retired, being too slow and hard to maintain**.

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