All About Japan

Peeling Back the Surface of Robot Geisha

| Technology , Design

The live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell has drawn a lot of attention. With the casting controversy driving the word of mouth advertising until the first trailer dropped, the movie has lived on the fine edge between something terrible and possibly something good.

One of the coolest/creepiest scenes in the trailer comes in the form of the robotic geisha that seem to inhabit Major Kusanagi’s world. These robotic geisha are a work of art themselves, but we wouldn’t know that just from the available footage. Thankfully we have MythBusters’ Adam Savage to play host for us as he recorded his visit to Weta Workshop in New Zealand for the Tested YouTube channel.

While clearly the geisha could easily have been created digitally with motion capture, director Rupert Sanders wanted as many practical effects as possible. In the industry, there might be no other company better than Weta Workshop who famously created so many props and effects for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies.

And they might have outdone themselves again. Amazingly, these geisha are created with hard masks that fit perfectly onto human actors. In the behind-the-scenes look, we can see exactly how they fit on an actor and how much work went into creating the look and feel of a robotic geisha.

Whether or not the movie is successful, it’s clear that the special effects are already something that should be talked about. Who knows, perhaps their skills will be recognized in about a year and we will be talking about the Academy Award winner Ghost in the Shell. Don’t count it out just yet, because that’s pretty much what happened with the now Academy-Award-winning movie Suicide Squad.

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Live-action Ghost in the Shell movie casts its first Japanese actor: Beat Takeshi

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