Who ya gonna call?

MPC brings a 300 foot ghost to 1970’s Times Square

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat. Who ya gonna call…

Lead by MPC VFX Supervisor David Seager and VFX Producer Laura Schultz, MPC completed more than 250 shots. The MPC Vancouver team primarily focused on the action-packed finale and work included creating a 1970’s Times Square, a 2D no-ghost cartoon, a 300 foot tall 3D character and extensive FX work.

Despite being set in 1970’s Times Square, shooting took place on a green screen set with minimal set pieces due to the restrictive nature of the real location. The green screen set had street and sidewalk detailing, but the surrounding buildings were created in CG. Building the environment required extensive research to capture the detail of 1970’s architecture. In addition to the fully CG exterior of the fictional Mercado building, MPC also extended the sound stage set of the lobby as well as the upper floors.

The primary character at the centre of MPC’s work was the final monster form of Rowan. Similar to the original film, Rowan’s final form is determined by the Ghostbusters, which in this version of the movie is a giant recreation of the classic no-ghost logo. Director Paul Feig wanted Rowan to appear as if a cartoon had come to life. To achieve this look, a traditional 2D artist animated the no-ghost logo which was then composited into the photographed backgrounds of the Mercado lobby. In subsequent shots, this 2D animated version of the character is transformed into a fully realized 3D final form of Rowan.

Rowan, in his monster form, is a 300-foot tall version of the no-ghost cartoon. The design of this character was strongly influenced by the classic cartoons, where he had a very simplistic but heavily art-directed shape. The main challenge was in making a cartoon character integrate into a photographic film. To achieve this MPC modelled the character as if he had an underlying cartoon anatomy that had been wrapped in a loose cloth. The character therefore had a secondary anatomical motion with traditional muscle, fat and skin simulations giving the ghost more realistic features. In order to achieve the proper sense of scale, a high polygon count cloth simulation was created on the final surface surrounding the cartoon anatomy.

MPC’s FX work on Ghostbusters was varied, but consisted primarily of proton streams, ghost emanations, a giant ghostly portal and a large amount of destruction FX. A pipeline was built for the proton streams to give MPC’s animators simple controls that could define the basic shape of the beam. The FX team were then able to add chaotic lightening effects such as the motion of the proton stream before passing the final elements to compositing. The ghost emanations and portal FX were created using a combination of fluid and particle simulations.




Paul Feig


Sony Pictures

MPC VFX Supervisor

Dave Seager