A sequence from Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2023) showing multiple 'missing person' posters

Haunted Mansion

Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, “Haunted Mansion” is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters. Directed by Justin Simien, the film features an all-star ensemble cast including LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon and Dan Levy, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto as The Hatbox Ghost.

Storybook Design
Animation

Led by Framestore Head of Design, Stephen Goalby, the Framestore Design team embarked on creating an animated sequence to explain Bruce’s (played by Danny De Vito) extensive research into the film’s villainous character ‘Crump’.

Working in partnership with the production's Visual Effects supervisor Edwin Rivera and drawing on the broad array of talent within the Framestore design team, the approach was to create something rich and textured, with a flowing animation as we seamlessly move through the dreamlike sequence. The animation and story beats were to be heavily influenced by Bruce's script.

A mixture of 3D techniques, rough, handmade, heavily textured, low frame rate scenes and characters were incorporated with real life elements such as newspaper clippings, imagery and handwritten notes which helped to emphasize key elements of the storyline.

The hand drawn look is a visually stand alone and unique stylistic approach and was a first for the team who hadn’t leaned on this previously. Although a 'loose' sketchy and handmade feel, many hours were put into the piece, meticulously fine tuning the details, not only to make sure the viewer was well informed and engaged, but keeping the standards high for quality and ensuring that regardless of the technique used for each scene, the viewing experience felt consistent throughout.

A sequence from Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2023) showing tickets to a gala in a sepia tone
A sequence from Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2023) showing the exterior of the mansion in a sepia tone

The project utilized After Effects to deliver the 2D and compositing work, alongside Cinema 4D for the texturing, lighting, animation, and simulations. Framestore’s talented team of storyboard artists and illustrators heightened the look and feel of the sequence with their hand drawn illustrations that were created into animated assets and sprinkled throughout.

The result is a standout sequence that encompasses multiple design techniques and shines a spotlight on the Design team’s creative prowess.

Albeit a short project with a fast turnaround, from brief to delivery, the design team worked tirelessly to produce a completely original piece to be proud of.

Everyone was excited to partner with the Framestore design team for the Crump backstory, especially after the initial pitch. The final inter-stitched animation is incredibly rewarding and fun when it appears on-screen. It was great to see this come together.
Ben Aghdami
Vice President of VFX, Walt Disney Studios.
A sequence from Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2023)
A sequence from Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2023) showing blue ghostly figures

Credits

Lead Creative
Stephen Goalby
Lead Designer
Andrew Niven
Executive Producer
Niamh O'Donohoe
Production Coordinator
Emma Simpson
Comp Supervisor
Niki Ryan
Designers
Jamal Bennett, Jack Field, Katie Hallaron, Daniella Marsh, Julien Van Wallendael, Max Woodhead
Compositor
Suzanne Jandu, Matthew Thomas
VFX Editorial
Matthew Collins, Humberto Reynaga
CG
Jonathan Watkins, Harry McCusker-Bland, Nathan Clark, Maya Dumond, Adam Smith