Matrix digital rain

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An interpretation of digital rain
A screensaver named XMatrix in XScreenSaver representing the digital rain

Matrix digital rain, Matrix code or sometimes green rain, is the computer code featured in the Matrix series. The falling green code is a way of representing the activity of the virtual reality environment of the Matrix on screen. All three Matrix movies, as well as the spin-off The Animatrix episodes, open with the code. It is a characteristic mark of the franchise, similar to the opening crawl in Star Wars.


In the film, the code that comprises the Matrix itself is frequently represented as downward-flowing green characters. This code uses a custom typeface designed by Simon Whiteley,[1] which includes mirror images of half-width kana characters and Western Latin letters and numerals.[2] In a 2017 interview at CNET, he attributed the design to his wife, who comes from Japan, and added, "I like to tell everybody that The Matrix's code is made out of Japanese sushi recipes".[3] The effect resembles that of the older green screen displays, since the letters leave a fluorescent trace on the screen.[4]

One predecessor of the digital rain exists in a "code-scene" of the movie Meteo, a Hungarian experimental-pop culture movie from 1989. The 1995 cyberpunk film Ghost in the Shell, a strong influence on The Matrix,[5][6] features opening credits similar to the digital rain.

No official version of the code's typeface actually used in the Matrix trilogy and in the website for the game Path of Neo has been released. Several imitations have been made, mostly in the form of screen-savers.

Fictional concept[edit]

In the films, a few people can understand what happens inside the Matrix by looking at the code on computer monitors. Operators from Zion, unable to enter the Matrix, concentrate on ways to read the scrolling code, or "rain", and infer data from it such as the location of a person in the City, possible exits, and so forth. As Cypher explains in the first film, the programming of the Matrix is so advanced that it is impractical to view an image translation, as "there's way too much information to decode the Matrix". The complex "Matrix code" of raining green characters and pictograms allows the Matrix program to be concisely represented and thus read more easily. Neo is the only human shown in the films who can see the code of which avatars are composed while in the Matrix, and is therefore able to see their "true" digital form. Also, in Reloaded, Neo sees the Merovingian's building as having "different", perhaps encrypted code, from which he infers that every floor in the building is wired with explosives. Some programs in the Matrix, such as Seraph, are not seen as part of the green code, but as golden code.

Cultural impact[edit]

Because of the popularity of the movies, the effect has become noted in itself and a part of pop culture. It has influenced other franchises and has been used in new-tech advertisements, TV spots, video-clips, posters and appeared in other high-tech topics, such as flash intros of cyberpunk related websites. On his 2010 Star One's Victims of the Modern Age album, Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen named one of the tracks as "Digital Rain", as the song is based on the movie.

Actual digital rain occurs in the Sanctuary Fortress area of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

The digital rain also inspired the creation of many unofficial screensavers.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Powerhouse Museum. "'The Matrix' film poster". Powerhouse Museum, Australia. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Oreck, Josh (Director); Wachowski, Larry; Matthies, Eric (Producers) (November 20, 2001). "Look of the Matrix". The Matrix Revisited (DVD). United States: Warner Bros. Pictures. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ Bisset, Jennifer (October 19, 2017). "Creator of The Matrix code reveals its mysterious origins". CNET. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  4. ^ Clover, Joshua (2004). The Matrix. London: BFI Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 1844570452. In the denouement [of The Thirteenth Floor], Douglas Hall simply crests a hill to discover that what he had thought was the real world has, beyond this point, yet to be constructed. In lieu of landscape, only crude phosphor-green polygons, the basic units of video graphics rendering, in the primal monochrome of an old CRT. The raw material of the simulation is even more basic in The Matrix – machine language itself, in the same familiar green...
  5. ^ Joel Silver, interviewed in "Scrolls to Screen: A Brief History of Anime" featurette on The Animatrix DVD.
  6. ^ Joel Silver, interviewed in "Making The Matrix" featurette on The Matrix DVD.
  7. ^ Podolsky, Erin (March 2, 2001). "Saver the Moment: movie inspired screen savers". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 22 June 2017.