Before you can declare that you ain't afraid of no ghosts, you have to come face to face with one first. And, when Paul Feig sat down to work on the ghosts that would be terrorizing New York City in the new Ghostbusters reboot, he had to decide how he wanted to create the ghosts to be busted. Would he go full CGI, as is the trend in Hollywood, or would he try for a more practical approach? The answer, it turns out, is that the director used a bit of both to create the perfect ghosts. How the ghosts in Ghostbusters were made was no simple process; it involved a lot of light, computers, and, of course, slime.
A majority of the ghosts in the new Ghostbusters reboot were not created using CGI. Instead, Feig went old school, hiring actual actors and stunt men and women to portray ghosts from various times and places. Why use real people and not just rely on CGI magic? In an interview with Empire Online, Feig explained that he felt it was important for ghosts to be a real, human presence on set in order to get the best performances he could from the other actors. "I've got comedic actors who shine when they're interacting with actual people. I don't want them acting with tennis balls," he said. "Tennis balls are rarely funny."
Most of the ghosts, at least the human ones, were stunt performers dressed up in period-specific clothing and make-up, and then covered with LED lights. The LED light strips were mostly attached on the performers' limbs, helping create the lighting effect on the other actors and also giving the ghosts themselves a very creepy look IRL. As Feig told Empire Online, the filmmakers only used CGI later to "make it a little more spectral." Even some of the not-so-human ghosts were created using practical effects. For example, the return of Slimer was shot using a puppet that was then enhanced by special effects. "We had a fully articulated Slimer puppet we used, and then we augmented him with special effects," Feig explained to Empire Online.
In fact, some of the ghosts were a little too real. When Bustle visited the Ghostbusters set in September of last year, stars Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig recounted one particularly scary moment on set when the Ghostbusters were being chased down a hallway by a very persistent ghost. "He was glowing, blue lights, his teeth. And he was above us going at a speed and we sort of had to run away from him," Wiig said. "And there was one take where he went, like, fasther than normal and we were like, 'Oh my god.'" The moment was especially frightening for their co-star Leslie Jones — "She really lost it," McCarthy recalled.
While most ghosts in the film are based on, well, people, there is one big ghost that required a bit more special effects — Rowan, a ghost based on the classic Ghostbusters' logo. I'm guessing that one was more machine than man.
Images: Columbia Pictures; Giphy (2)