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Electrocuted Ghost

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Electrocuted Ghost is a specter that haunts Seward Street Subway Station in the 2016 movie.

History

According to Patty, the history of the area which this ghost haunts was that above was the old New York prison, the first prison in New York to execute prisoners by electric chair. Likely, sparky is one of the prisoners.

He was first seen by Patty after discovering a weird sparking device on a wall. He hovered over the tracks, sparking. Patty ran from it.

Later, Patty brought the rest of the Ghostbusters to the location. A encounter with the ghost happened, and they tested the Proton Box on him. It didn't have the power to contain it. Ultimately they lost the ghost when a train hit it (almost hitting the four Ghostbusters as well) and he ended up on the train going to Queens New York. Patty adding that he will be the third scariest thing on the train.

Development

The initial plan was to enhance Dave Gruber Allen in costume but as process went on, it was discovered to be easier to film and replace the ghost entirely than enhance the actor. The background was replaced so that camera tracing was not an issue and those who did rig removal didn't have to patch over Allen's wire rig. [1] The ghost was fully keyframe animated. For reference, the effects team studied Dave Allen's acting on the set such as the movement of his arms and body. They chose to distend the ghost's mouth so that it was essentially double hinged, allow for the ghost to turn his head 180 degrees, and add electricity and smoke. [2] [3] [4] The ghost's threatening presence on the set was sacrificed for interaction with the rest of the cast. On the wire rig, Dave Allen provided the right eye lines. The alternatives were to film Allen in a water tank or shoot Allen at a higher frame rate with a wind machine but then the cast could not interact with him as much. [5]

The ghost's transluence was achieved with a combination of lighting passes and compositing. The VFX team rendered a 'photographically real' ghost with skin and everything fully textured and rendered out a skeleton with fully textured and displacement maps. [6] The ghost's beard was 'groomed' in Houdini, rendered with the character to get proper shadowing and lighting with V-Ray, used nCloth for the prison garments and kept them in Maya as a base part of the character. It was cached through Alembic to send it to Houdini. nCloth helped inform the motion of all of the Houdini-based effects. [7] The VFX team created a 'treads pass' to help match the up the feel of the prison garb and see details in close up shots. Compositing supervisor Kurt Lawson built a set-up pipeline that was robust and allowed for maximum flexibility which allowed the rest of team to react quickly to feedback with more or less translucency in compositing instead of revisiting the CG lighting and re-rendering everything. [8] For filming when the ghost is hit by the subway train, the crew loosely simulated a train by pushing a dolly with a large light on it. The Zero VFX team removed the element, replaced the train and tunnel, and added the ghost in the train. [9]

Trivia

  • Zero VFX did visual effects on the Electrocuted Ghost. [10]
  • The Zero VFX team nicknamed the ghost "Fred". They were instructed to play with the notion that he was the first person to be executed by electric chair in New York. [11]
    • The first person executed by electric chair in New York was William Kemmler but the execution did not take place in Manhattan.

References

  1. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The Ghostbusters come face to face with a subway ghost in a sequence that was initially intended to be achieved with enhancements to a live action actor in costume. As the sequence developed it was found to be easier and more flexible to keep the overall approach of the shot in terms of cinematography, but replace the ghost entirely and not enhance the actor (ex GG town troubadour, Dave Allen). To make this easier, most of the time the background was also replaced so that camera tracing was not an issue and rig removal did not need to be used to patch over the suspended actor's extensive wire rig."
  2. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The ghost was fully keyframe animated but with visual reference to Allen's acting choices on set combined with the added ‘untethered’ look of his arms and body movements. For the facial animation, the team wanted to distend the face so that Fred’s mouth would, for example, open far larger than it could in real life (it is basically double hinged)."
  3. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The digital ghost could also do other things no actor could. For example, there was another shot when the ghost’s head turns almost all the way around 180 degrees to look at the Ghostbusters, adding to his creepiness."
  4. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: ""The production wanted a lot of electricity surrounding him," explains Warner. We asked ourselves about how we could make it ethereal, and how we could make the photography and performance and character all look real together, with the smoke and electricity. We also thought a lot about who Fred was before he became a ghost, and built a lot of that visual identity into his character, and into the character of the effects...The ghost wasn't just a vaporous apparition; he had a story we needed to tell. He was a bad dude, and we had to extend that story."."
  5. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Allen in costume on wire rig provided both the right eye lines and something for the actresses to play off of, but the live action photography could not capture the flowing nature of the ghostly costume. Had it been shot in a water tank, as was done with some of the original effects in the 80s, the director would have lost the interaction with the cast. Similarly, the team could have tried the old school technique of shooting Allen over cranked at a higher frame rate with a wind machine, but again this would loose the on set interaction that is so key to comedic timing. This restricted the on-set solution to wires and rigs and that simply did not produce a sufficiently threatening presence for Fred."
  6. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The translucency was accomplished with a combination of lighting passes and compositing. The team knew that they had to see the skeleton from time to time, depending on the lighting interactions, so they rendered a 'photographically real' ghost with skin and everything fully textured. They also rendered out a skeleton with fully textured and displacement maps, affording them control over the level of translucency during the compositing process."
  7. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Fred’s beard was groomed in Houdini and rendered with the character to get proper shadowing and lighting with V-Ray. Zero VFX used nCloth for the prison garments and kept them in Maya as a base part of the character. They cached this through Alembic to send it to Houdini. nCloth informed the motion of all the Houdini-based effects that were generated. "It ended up being a pretty complex path system, going from Maya out to Houdini and then back into Maya for V-Ray for the lighting rendering," explains Warner. "Thankfully we had a great comp team who put it all together!"."
  8. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Trying to match the feeling of cloth and making it feel like Fred was wearing his grey prison suit was one thing, but the team also had to think about how to make a grey prison suit both photo-real and translucent. "We went so far as to look right down into the details of cotton fabric, and when you do that you see little details like the piling that happens that gives a little bit of texture – we created what we called a 'treads pass' or 'strings pass' for some of the really close up shots. That gave us that extra bit of texture detail on that pajama prison suit". Compositing supervisor Kurt Lawson built a set-up pipeline that was robust and allowed for maximum flexibility. The team could react quickly to feedback with more or less translucency in comp instead of needing to revisit the CG lighting and re-rendering everything."
  9. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The sequence ends with our heros escaping not only Fred but a speeding Subway train. Fred gets hit by the train, and with each carriage hit, he explode with ectoplasm. The train was set up on set with the crew pushing a dolly with a large light on it, to simulate the on coming train. Perhaps understandably the crew could not push a dolly as fast as a NY subway train so the Zero VFX team needed to fully remove this element and completely replace the train, the tunnel and then add in Fred trapped inside."
  10. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "It's a great moment, which let us help sell the story for the filmmakers – that's our entire vision in life at Zero VFX."
  11. fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The team nicknamed the ghost "Fred." The brief was make Fred look cool, but to also play on the notion that he had been electrified, as he was the ghost of the first person to be put in the electric chair in New York. This meant adding things such as vapour or plasma."


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