5 kb Although it's no secret that the CGI ghost effects in this summer's hit movie Casper were generated by industry giant ILM, here's one we'll bet you didn't know: ILM used a little help from The Character Shop to get them going. From designs approved by Steven Spielberg and the producers at Amblin', The Character Shop produced 1/4 scale models of the ghosts Casper, Stinky, Fatso, and Stretch, as well as two others caricaturing Bill Pullman and Cathy Moriarty. Special silicone molds were made of the approved sculptures, and then various formulations of resin were cast into the molds. The replicas stood from 9 to 20 inches high, depending on the character.

First, translucent versions were cast to help ILM and the production team visualize how the characters would look if they were slightly transparent. Having an actual three-dimensional model that they could hold in their hands, rotate, and analyze how the light shone through was an incredible tool. Then, flexible white rubber versions with poseable wire skeletons were created to help ILM animators realize how the characters would move and look in different poses. Then a third set of castings were made; solid white versions were produced and given to ILM, which they used to create their CGI models by digitizing as 3-dimensional images into their computer database. This allowed them to capture the contours, forms, and proportions of the approved models to use as a basis for all their subsequent computer animation.

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The TCS team then produced 4 full-scaled sculptures of the main ghosts, measuring from 4 to 7 feet high! Special lightweight molds were made of these sculptures, from which lightweight, posable models were cast for production use on set, providing visual reference for the director, floor f/x crew and animators, and also eyelines and physical characters for the actors to react to.

Rick and the crew at TCS are proud to have played a part behind-the-scenes on Casper, helping to bring the ghostly characters to life!  


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