Going through a phase: DNEG on Ant-Man and the Wasp’s Ghost effects

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In Ant-Man and the Wasp, a new character introduced in the film is Ava Starr, aka Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen. An accident has caused Starr to suffer from molecular instability, giving her the ability to phase through objects. She uses these powers against the film’s heroes in the hope of finding a cure through their quantum research.

DNEG led the effort to realise the CG Ghost asset and the phasing effect, with other studios also handling Ghost scenes. DNEG visual effects supervisor Alessandro Ongaro tells vfxblog how they approached the effect.

Alessandro Ongaro: The main idea behind the phasing is that the film deals with the idea of the multiverse and alternate realities and quantum mechanics. So what we did when we were developing Ghost was that we had an idea about her being able to have alternate copies of herself.

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Let’s say she’s walking straight, but she could split in half. And this ghost image can go and walk in another direction. We call them phantom images, they are the special treatments that are a little more transparent. Because of all these alternate copies of Ghost, we had to do a lot of keyframe animation of these alternate copies.

So what we usually did was, we started body tracking the actual performance, if there was a stand-in or Hannah performing. And that we would take the body track and then the animation department created alternate copies of Ghost doing alternate things.

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For instance, there is a scene where she gets shot with a blaster from Wasp, and the main Ghost becomes transparent, and the blaster goes through. But the alternate copy kind of reacts to the effect of being shot, maybe moving away or reacting with the arms. And all these are blended together in the compositing stage.

It was a simple look, but in the simplicity, it was pretty complex because there were so many elements that have to work together and be fine tuned.

There’s more coverage of Ant-Man and the Wasp coming for other publications and at vfxblog.com.