Mar 30, 2017

3D Printing & Scanning Drive “Ghost in the Shell” VFX

The “Ghost in the Shell” VFX team used 30,000 3D scans and 3D printing technology to bring their film to life.  

Moviegoers around the world has been buzzing with speculation about the film Ghost in the Shell.

The “live-action” adaptation of the renowned 1995 anime is set in a digitalized dystopian future. The story revolves around Major, a cyborg cop played by Scarlett Johansson, who keeps a watchful eye on the boundless and futuristic world.

If you’ve seen any of the film’s clips already, it’s clear that CGI is used in abundance. Packed with towering solid holograms and otherworldly stunts, Ghost in the Shell has aimed to take special effects to a whole new level.

News recently surfaced that the VFX team used 3D scanning and printing to bring their vision to the big screen.

 3D Scanning the “Ghost in the Shell” Cast

In order to fuse the real world and digital fantasy together, the special effects team scanned 200 different actors. The scanning process, called photogrammetry, consisted of 80 cameras surrounding each cast member.

These cameras are capable of capturing motion, skin, hair, clothing, essentially the entire acting performance. Instead of a single-frame 3D scan, the VFX team uses a moving model that can be seamlessly placed within the digitalized city.

According to the film’s VFX supervisor Guillaume Rocheron, they created a whopping 30,000 3D scans. This allowed them to implant “solidgrams” into real shots and also CGI environments. The result is as if the actor is really there on screen, when in reality it’s just a realistic 3D render.

3D Printing Endoskeletons & Cityscapes

The Ghost in the Shell VFX team also used 3D printing technology, both on-screen and off the camera. In order to depict Major’s famous transformation from a defeated human to an invincible robot, they modeled and 3D printed the full-scale endoskeleton suit.

This human-like shell, created in the Weta workshop, is printed in 1,400 individual parts. Rocheron and his team also printed a one-and-a-half scale head.

Afterwards, the endoskeleton panels and body parts are digitally animated in great detail. The VFX team built a version of the body filled with concrete, allowing the skeleton to ride from the pool of white goop (check out the video below).

The Weta workshop also printed eight-foot-models of the cityscape and exterior environment. This allowed them to plan out the film’s setting before rendering it in CGI.

The 3D printed models allow the film team to physically walk around the soon-to-be digital setting. The city itself is inspired by Hong Kong and arranged in the New Zealand-based studio.

According to Rocheron, 3D printing and scanning was integral to the CGI design process:

“Once Rupert was happy with the design, we basically created a 3D scan of skyscrapers. Then we added more details to them. Then we adjusted to enhance the miniatures to make them look better and put them in authentic cityscapes. The miniature was used more as a design tool than a finishing tool.”

With Ghost in the Shell likely to have a major impact on the future of VFX in cinema, you can expect 3D scanning and printing to continue emerging in the film industry as the technology advances.

License: The text of "3D Printing & Scanning Drive “Ghost in the Shell” VFX" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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