Spicy Tuna Handroll. Sushi Recipes hidden in The Matrix3 min read
20 years after The Matrix first graced our screens, an interesting tidbit has come to my attention. Thanks to Wired for doing a deep dive into The Matrix for there 20 year anniversary, where they have a lot of coverage featuring various aspect of the films you can check out here.
One of the most interesting and memorable parts of the films design was the source code. scrolling green characters that made up The Matrix. I always just thought they would be gibberish, but it turns out that the code is actually Sushi recipes, taken from one of the designers wife’s cookbooks.
“The Wachowskis didn’t feel like the design was old-fashioned and traditional enough. They wanted something that was more Japanese, more manga,” Whiteley says. “They asked me if I’d like to have a go working at the code, mainly because my wife is Japanese and she could help me work out the characters and give me insight into which characters were good and which weren’t.”
So Whiteley went home and began browsing through the “stacks of Japanese cookbooks” owned by his wife, looking for inspiration. One recipe book in particular caught his eye and the recipes therein served as the basis for what would eventually become the film’s iconic falling code.
Over the following weeks, Whiteley painstakingly designed and painted each Japanese letter by hand. These were then delivered to Justin Marshall, now a visual effects artist at Animal Logic, who digitized them and wrote the code to make them cascade across the screen. Originally, Whiteley says, the letters were supposed to flow across the screen from left to right, but when he saw the animation he says it “wasn’t evoking any emotion for me.”
Whiteley returned to the source. Like most Japanese texts, the recipe books were written “back to front” and sentences were read top to bottom. So Whiteley asked Marshall if he could flip the code so it flowed down from the top of the screen—and the rest is history.
If you are feeling nostalgic, you can grab a screensaver based on the scrolling code of The Matrix here.