Innovation, invention, looking to the future: these are themes synonymous with Framestore, which made working on Rupert Sander’s Ghost in the Shell all the more rewarding. Based on the internationally acclaimed sci-fi series the film is centred around the Major (Scarlett Johansson), a one-of-a-kind human cyborg hybrid. In a scene inspired by the original anime, Framestore worked on a complicated sequence of the film which see the Major engaged in an underwater meditation session, in a scene that is almost completely CG.
‘Our underwater sequence on Ghost in The Shell was a true homage to the 1995 classic anime and it was an honour to be involved in such a cool property.’Ivan Moran - VFX Supervisor
Using references of the physical shoot of Johansson in a water tank, a team from Framestore’s Montréal facility, led by VFX Supervisor Ivan Moran, kept the dry greenscreen closeup of Johansson, and built a high spec digi-double body and CG environment around her. Says Moran: ‘We integrated Scarlett’s face to our digi-double, matching her musculature and facial micro movements so we could simulate her underwater hair, which was animated with a gentle current.’
The look of the scene was developed in collaboration with the Framestore Art Department to create a firm visual template around the exposure, underwater lens effects and general colour palette for the rest of the shots.
Being underwater during the night meant that the environment would be too dark to see much at all, so the team had to be creative; introducing moonlight reaching into the far depths and a flurry of refractive, bioluminescent jellyfish which had to look impressive but not threatening. To create an interesting and dynamic environment, effects artists simulated trailing appendages, bubbles, flotsam and a forest of kelp. Compositors then layered the scene in Deep Compositing with refractions and glows, being careful to downplay bubbles around the Major to emphasize her robotic nature.
‘In 10 weeks and almost in parallel (around Christmas too just to make it that much harder) a small super talented team asset built, tracked, roto'd, modelled, rigged, lookdev-ed, animated, CFX'd, lit, rendered and comped a truly memorable sequence for the movie. Congratulations all!' Ivan Moran, VFX Supervisor