I was trying to work out exactly how to write that headline. There’s really no way to make it sound right. Cheech and Chong – yes, THE Cheech and Chong – star in a remake short of Tron. It starts with an extended dialog about the current economic meltdown, but suddenly there are light cycles. And Tron is way, way more psychedelic – yes, more psychedelic, with visuals mashed up all over the place and a faux Wendy Carlos score that adds beatboxing and sounds like it was conducted by someone’s cat. And did I mention this is starring Cheech and Chong? And that then there are giant, neon faces of economic figures?

The whole thing will be released by Microsoft – now I know I must be high.

And you know what? The results, while utterly insane, manage to be inexplicably awesome.

Creator Casey Basichis (art direction and visual effects and the Wendy Carlos-on-acid score) writes CDM to explain what’s going on, talks about working on the project, and notes that, sadly, his cut is not what’s getting released. (Oddly, the final production team downplayed crediting the folks who did the visual work, as well, as you can see in the version released to MSN’s Cinemash.

I’m a big fan of your blog. There is always a soft spot in me for jitter spaghetti strings and the angular aliased spaghetti they, so often, create.

I wanted to share with you, the original artists cut to Tron starring Cheech and Chong.

This remake takes a bite out of Madoff, Greenspan and Mozillo, drawing caricatures of them in light cycle beams, with their names scribed brazenly across the screen amongst the psychedelic madness… My little effort to make sure we remain focused on our financial crisis and the fraud that goes with it.

I took a few initial green screen talking head shots of Cheech and Chong and re-conceptualized the video into a swirling synthetic world of CG animation and visual effects mixed with live action shots.

Cheech and Chong played it cool with cantankerous cracks but I think Tommy Chong secretly enjoyed jumping up and down on the trampoline.

I don’t think they were fully aware of the direction I had in mind. But they did put my version up on their official site, so I think they were pleased.

I just pushed as hard as I could on the boundaries of what Tron could be; grass and googly eyes, for a start.

I watched the original Tron making-of on loop trying to figure out what was driving the creators to make something, so out of nowhere and without peer. The artists behind the original were not techies so much as experimental animators who really got off on the pornography of flashy light.

In making this ode to Tron and , I tried to anticipate where the real deal, mega sequel, Tron 2, would stray from its original spirit of creation. So many of the kernel components of the original would be heresy to invoke on a hundred million dollar film.

I wanted to make something as flat and as deceptive to spatial perception as the original. Instead of modernizing the originals hand drawn and airbrushed matte illustrations into another vector graphic ubiquity, I drew the diffusion of light and physical texture from flat psychedelic patterning. There is a great deal of flashlight-through-fishtank-of-glitter happening to keep everything plumed in luminous grime.

Instead of turning the light cycle races into another Mission Impossible chase scene, I let them ride wild through the shapless ether of stoned space. Cheech and Chong are much too cool to be bouncing around like Tom Cruise in leather pants.

Wall Street is still the major theme, but let the other guys recount the repugnance of the deeds done. I just want to make sure we at least have a few clearly spelled out names to piss on in the lessons of history.

Along with the rest, I also created and performed the score, which features, heavily, samples from my other creation, The BFD Beatbox library. As the first of its kind FXpansion will begin distributing the Beatbox sample library at the end of the month as an expansion for its BFD 2 software.

The video is short, but it’s followed by behind-the-scenes shots. My, how the creators of Tron’s effects would have been jealous of this. A lot of Tron was shot real-for-real, using painstaking, time-consuming optical effects and even hand cel animation to complete the result. Here, you shoot Cheech and Chong on some green screen with a Frisbee and an Easy button from Staples – literally – and you do the rest on the computer. Happily, this gives us all more time to play Xbox, Microsoft wins, and really, we all win.

For those of you too young: Cheech Marin did all sorts of stuff before you saw him on Lost.

More information from YouTube:

A psychedelic, economic melt down remake of the 1982 sci-fi groundbreaker “Tron.” Starring Cheech and Chong.

“I don’t think you should watch anything like that straight. It’ll have lasting, traumatic effects on you.” – Tommy Chong

“When I first saw it, I was shocked because I thought we were doing soft porn. And then, ‘Oh, it’s about finances; that’s kind of hard-core porn,’ ” – Cheech Marin

This is the real original, unedited version of the Cinemash mashup with six minutes of additional behind the scenes and special effects breakdown footage.

Tron starring Cheech and Chong is part of the Cinemash digital series. The version distributed by Microsoft is an edit of the original engineered from a few green screen shots. The video here is the creation of the fine folks at Color Stampede.

The edited version will appear on the Microsoft Zune network and xbox live.

Here’s the production team info for the YouTube-released version.

Color Stampede

Casey Basichis
Art Direction, VFX, Score

Liz Alvarado
VFX Coordinator

Tim Kiefer

Jeaux Janovsky

Dan Nguyen

Mahdi Heydarian
Software Dev

Video Processing
Ryan Connor

Isaac Takeuchi
Sound Design

Color Stampede Site
http://www.ameliasheart.com/ – Casey’s portfolio, with some really beautiful work

Updated: We like giving credit where it’s due, but apparently whoever is producing Cinemash doesn’t. They crammed this team into the end of the credits for the re-cut, re-released video on MSN. Now they’re spamming Twitter accounts like ours with messages like “AUTHENTIC CINEMASH OF “TRON” AT http://movies.msn.com/cinemash/”. You can see for yourself, that cut isn’t as much fun – and it doesn’t even properly credit Casey and his team for the work they did (like, ahem, the music Casey worked on, for instance). I’m coming in on the middle of whatever politics spawned this, but – yo, Cinemash, if you have a difference of opinion and want to contact us, we have a form. Don’t just spam everyone with your Twitter account; that’s uncool. (And, come on, what’s an “authentic” mash-up?)