In the creation of the new Disney movie Haunted Mansion, members of the visual effects team took a walk through the iconic Haunted Mansion attraction for inspiration. First opened in 1969 at Disneyland, the ride sees guests walk through the gate and into the Mansion before being guided into the “Doom Buggies” where they ride through the haunted house and encounter many ghosts in the hall. path.
Of course, this was conceived at a time before CG and other digital gimmickry became a familiar part of location-based entertainment. But capturing the familiar look of the ride was part of the goal of the visual effects team, led by production visual effects supervisor Edwin Rivera, who also works for vendor DNEG. Along with Industrial Light & Magic and Opsis, the team completed nearly 2,000 visual effects shots for the film. “It’s always fun to bring something iconic from people’s childhoods to life,” says Rivera. the hollywood reporter.
In 1969, the ghosts that appear on the ride were created using a clever, low-tech method known as Pepper’s Ghost, which is effectively a 2D illusion created with reflections and named after John Henry Pepper, who used this projection approach. for entertainment during the 1800s More recently, the technique re-entered the entertainment landscape when it was used to put performers on a live stage, most notably when the late Tupac Shakur “appeared” at the 2012 Coachella Festival. The appearance was frequently advertised as a hologram, even though it was not.
To come up with the technique used in the film, Rivera and director Justin Simien explored many approaches Hollywood has used to create ghosts, then formulated a recipe they felt suited to their appearances.
“We didn’t actually use the Peppers Ghost effect, but we were looking to see what the final effect was,” Rivera says of working on the film. “When you’re on the ride, it’s not like it’s CG. But it feels like it’s transparent. They inspired us on how to make (the actors playing the ghosts) feel like they’re there and not, both physical and ephemeral at the same time.”
Simien wanted real actors playing the ghosts in full costume and makeup to be on set during filming. “There was a more grounded feel,” Rivera says, adding that they then used an approach he describes as “ectoplasmic fizz.” He explains, “When your hand is sitting on bioluminescent algae, when you’re not moving it, nothing really happens. But as you move it around, you start to see the shaking illuminate these particles. (In the same way) as these ghosts move through space, they create these ghostly particles. And then another layer was a transparency to the body that (also) revealed this decrepit skeleton underneath in whatever areas they were shaded in.”
To do this, the team used witness cameras during filming to obtain the coordinates of the actors playing ghosts in costumes and makeup. “Then we created CG scans of their bodies to use as the spawn point for the particles,” says Rivera, “and then we made sure to do clean passes of each scene so that we could reveal what was behind the actors at any time.” given time.
“We had the best of both worlds,” Rivera sums up. “We had an actor who was really there, but then this kind of other element that made them feel like they weren’t from this world.”