Feb 28, 2017 | By Tess

Screenshot from Ghost in the Shell trailer

One of the most anticipated movies of 2017 is without a doubt Ghost in the Shell, the live-action Hollywood adaptation of the immensely popular Japanese media franchise of the same name. The upcoming film, based on the stellar 1995 animated film, stars Scarlett Johansson (a controversial choice!), and is directed by Rupert Sanders, whose only other feature film directorial credits are for Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).

Despite the “white-washing” controversy that surrounds the film, Ghost in the Shell is being lauded for its stunning visual effects, which incorporate physical effects along with digital CGI technologies. Fortunately for us, Adam Savage of MythBusters was given a glimpse into the making of the film as has shared it with all of us. Savage, along with his Tested team, was invited to the Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand to see how the magic of Ghost in the Shell was created. If you hadn’t guessed, 3D printing had a part to play!

Film and special effects geeks will already be well acquainted with the Weta workshop, as it has contributed to a number of acclaimed films, not least of all Peter Jackson adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other notable titles include Mad Max: Fury Road, Edge of Tomorrow, and more recently, The BFG, The Great Wall, Power Rangers, and of course, Ghost in the Shell.

Richard Taylor, co-founder of Weta Workshop, has given Savage a unique glimpse into how some of Ghost in the Shell’s most iconic characters, the robot geishas, were realized. Rather than take the green-screen, CGI route to create them, Weta and Ghost in the Shell’s producers thought something physical, in the form of costumes and animatronic masks, would be more effective. Seeing the results, we wholeheartedly agree.

To make the robot geishas—which look like real life porcelain dolls—the Weta team first 3D scanned the face of Japanese actress Rila Fukushima, and used it as the base for the masks. Once the masks were digitally modeled, the workshop used a combination of 3D printing, milling, and hand sculpting to bring the masks to life. In the case of the hair-piece, Taylor explains that they used a 3D printed model, which they then molded and casted for the final product.

If you’re wondering how comfortable a 3D printed mask could be, the experts at Weta went to great lengths so they would be easily removable, breathable, secure, and comfortable for each actor. Tiny fans and aeration slits were even included in the masks’ design to make them bearable under the bright lights of the film studio.

One of the most impressive pieces that Savage and Taylor showcase in their video is an animatronic robot geisha head. At first glance, the model, though stunning, looks quite unassuming, resembling the other geisha masks. At the push of a button, however, the face opens up to reveal an intricate mechanical interior, complete with actual rotating gears (as seen above). As you can imagine, realizing the animatronics of the mask was a complex process which required a large team of artists, engineers, and technicians.

The technology used was of utmost importance as well. “We would have struggled to make this movie in the time we had to make it two years ago, because neither was the technology around nor was the chemistry within the technology around…the materials weren’t even in existence two years ago so we couldn’t have built it, but we can build it today because technology is iterating and growing,” explained Taylor.

Audiences will be able to see the 3D printed robot geisha masks on the big screen as of March 30, 2017.

Images: Youtube

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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