Mar 26, 2017 | By Julia

Ex-Mythbusters TV personality Adam Savage has gone behind the scenes of the highly anticipated blockbuster Ghost in the Shell, adapted from the original Japanese manga and the 1995 anime film. In the newest installment of Savage’s web series Tested, the designer paid a visit to New Zealand’s Weta Workshop, the practical effects studio behind Ghost in the Shell, where he got an exclusive sneak peak of the film’s acclaimed props, models, and effects.

The Masamune Shirow-adapted film, which comes out later this month, may be best known for sparking controversy around the decision to cast Scarlett Johannson as Japanese lead character Major Motoko Kusanagi, and the whitewashing debates that have since plagued the release.

Yet as Savage notes in the latest episode of Tested, there’s a lot to say about the film’s technical aspects too. Specifically, Major Kusanagi’s robot skeleton suit deserves its own special mention.

Meticulously crafted from over 300 interconnected, 3D-printed, laser-cut, and hand-modelled components, the robot skeleton is an ode to professional craftsmanship, forsaking the more commonly trodden path of CGI.

“What you’re looking at is a collection of, basically, 3D printed objects,” says a Weta Workshop designer to Savage. “[There’s] clear resin, black resin; there are laser-cut components, model-made components, 3D printed steel joints to keep the strength, and we 3D printed nylon for some of the limbs as as well to keep the shape.”

As a one-off masterpiece, the exoskeleton took about a month of testing different materials before the Weta Workshop team was satisfied with the results. Director Rupert Sanders was physically present for much of this process, overseeing virtually every detail.

3D printing the individual pieces (which number between 300 and 400) took hundreds of hours, and was based off a complex computer assisted design (CAD) file also made in-house.

“Our job is to take that [CAD file] and to turn it into something that can be manufactured,” Weta Workshop staff tells Savage.

Perhaps most the impressive aspect is the fact that the entire exoskeleton shown in the Tested segment actually fits inside a ballistic gel layer that is also 3D printed, ultimately creating the silhouette of the character for filming.

Narratively, the famous robot skeleton suit appears in the pivotal scene when Major Kusanagi’s AI character is physically constructed in the film. There, Scarlett Johannsson transforms into a cyber-enhanced human engineered to be the perfect soldier.  

Ghost in the Shell hits theatres on March 31st, 2017.



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