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Film > Ghostbusters > Home Video > Ghostbusters 1999 DVD - "Meet The Special Effects Team" Featurette
Ghostbusters 1999 DVD - "Meet The Special Effects Team" Featurette

Play Video
(with optional English subtitles)
(A copy has also been uploaded to the official Ghostbusters YouTube channel)

Stay-Puft Production Photos & Drawings


Producer and Director
Alita Renee Holly

Thomas Teltser

Technical Director
Morgan Holly

Director of Photography
Mark C. Brems

Camera Operators
Eric J. Weisman
Duff Dashner
Mickey Brogan
Production Assistants
Julia Jones
Mira Crisp

Post Production Facility
Motion Arts, Inc.

Special Thanks to
Richard Edlund
Virgil Morano
Kim Doyle
Don Shay

Executive Producer
Michael Stradford

copyright © 1999 Columbia Tristar Home Video, Inc.
All rights reserved.
This is the full text transcript of everything that was said in this featurette. The transcription was done using computer software reading the subtitle track from the GB1 & GB2 4K UHD & Blu-Ray 5-Disc Set. IT HAS NOT BEEN CHECKED FOR ERRORS OR PROPERLY FORMATTED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT, FEEL FREE TO E-MAIL ME.

DAN AYKROYD: We have Richard Edlund, we have the EEG people. We have people who have done part of the Star Wars trilogy and Poltergeist.

They want to make sure that all these effects that they use in Ghostbusters are different.

- Completely new.

I'm Richard Edlund. I don't know exactly what I did on the film.

I did a lot of things.

[others laugh]

It was, I guess, supervisor and, uh...

it was an opportunity that came by way of a phone call from Ivan Reitman,

when I was having an operation on my back.

- John Bruno.

-[Therrien chuckles]

I was the visual effects art director on Ghostbusters.

Once we had finished Poltergeist I went on to do a film called, uh,

The Corsican Brothers with Cheech and Chong.

And I was in Europe when I got a call from Richard, he said

"Do you wanna work on this movie?"

- Terry Windell and, uh...

-[cars rumbling]

I was one of the animation supervisors on the show.

I knew John from the past.

He hired me on Heavy Metal, which was an animated feature,

to do layout and design work.

And I was living in Canada, along with Annick, my wife,

who I met during the show, and visited John at ILM

and that's how we hooked up to do on Poltergeist.

A bunch of us that are assembled here today were all kind of waiting

for the go on this and once I did get a go then we all came together

at a studio in Marina del Rey which was kind of like a pile of parts.

And we had to essentially rebuild the whole studio, come up with techniques

and styles for doing the whole show,

design and storyboard everything

and execute within a space of about a little over ten months.

It was quite an amazing project.

And I think it couldn't have been done without this group of people.

Basically the trapping process is...

[clears throat] It's difficult. It's something like...

trying to get smoke into a Coke bottle

with a baseball bat.

I remember the meeting

that we had where Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray and everybody came down.

They had a very naive approach to making the effects

but they had a very energetic approach to the style of the film.

They just wanted it to be balls-out fun. They wanted people to be able to laugh

and they didn't care how it happened.

So it was just "Let's just do-" It's like a three-dimensional cartoon.

Let's just do it.

[Slimer roaring]


Normally, you know, we came out of this sort of razor-edge,

laser-light Star Wars look, all bottom-lit animation.

And this was all about throwing all that stuff away

and just kind of coming up with something from our guts.

He slimed me.

The effects that were done

at the time of Ghostbusters required a completely different type of ingenuity

than exists today.

And the effects ultimately in Ghostbusters wound up costing about $5.6 million.

If we had done Dan's original script, it would've been $40 million in effects.

So when Harold Ramis started working with Ivan on paring the script down

and we started going through and saying, you know,

"We don't wanna bring the Marshmallow Man out of the East River."

Because it doesn't make sense.

And secondly, it'll cost much more to do because the idea was to try to figure out

how to most simplify this incredible, mental explosion.

One of the signatures of the movie is the neutrona-wand animation,

which is the idea of rubberizing light

and coming up with a comedic-looking animation once these guys

with these berserk neutrona wands would let loose with them.

[Windell] One of the descriptions was that this neutrona wand

was basically someone holding a thermonuclear accelerator on their back

and what would happen if they turned it on'?

The pack is a positron collider

and the wand or the stick is a neutrona thrower.

You know, it'd be like

a thousand times more powerful than one man holding a fire hose.

And, actually, took explosions that were filmed on the stage

and then rephotograph them with a technique that these guys developed

called "pin blocking." So you can miniaturize these little explosions.

So, like, the tip of the gun was actually--

had pyrotechnic explosions and flares

and things laced in there with about five levels of classical animation

that was also manipulated on the optical printer by Mark Vargo.

So all this stuff put togetherjust came out to this kind of wild thing.

The first effect that we really see in the movie

is when they see the librarian

in the library and she tells them to shut up.

And her book, I remember, 'cause she was kind of soft and was diffused,

but her book had to be sharp which Annick's people fixed

and so the book was rotoscoped.

So it was separately treated.

I really enjoyed working with Richard and everybody else.

I worked before with them on Return of the Jedi at ILM.


it was a great experience and they kind of accepted me and respected me a lot.

Annick also really took the bull by the horns and, uh...

and if somebody wasn't producing she'd let them know.

[Mirano] That sounds like Annick.

And it was very effective, I think, you know.

- Very much so.

- Don't you guys all agree?

- Yes.

- We did get whipped every now and then.

Annick "annuck."

So I would end up, you know, projecting the image down and on a cell

I would use, like, a Rapidograph, number triple zero

five zero, whatever, how small it would be, and outline, frame by frame,

each character and we would paint them black

and then shoot them in bottom-light.

It probably took like three weeks to do like one, I don't know,

one second, two seconds.

All in all, from what was projected and what was done,

the amount of work increase on her department was tenfold

from what was projected.

I remember constantly surprising her with, "Oh, here's another shot."

[others laugh]

My shelf kept, you know, the film kept growing and growing on the shelf.

[Windell] Yeah, he's trying to find ways to sneak up and leave the--

Like, "Is she at lunch?"

[Edlund] John DeCuir, who always thought big, had found this location in New York,

which was a building that went up X number of stories,

and it was like Calvin Klein at the penthouse there.

But we added about another ten stories onto it with matte paintings

for numerous shots.

There was a nice touch in that shot because I think Neil had thought of-

He photographed me and Michelle and two, three others from

up high and inserted us in a balcony in a painting on the lower right side.

So there was some movement because you look down there

and those cars aren't really moving,

-[Therrien laughs]

-you know, they're painted.

As a matte painter, I mean Michelle, who is

probably one of the, if not the, top matte painter in the business today.

Uh, in my opinion.

[all chuckle, indistinct shatters]

She's a little shy.

[Windell] The Onionhead is the green character--

[Edlund] Known as "Slimer."

[Windell] And there was some sequences

where he was supposed to be up in the chandelier

and there was a little guy made at great expense.

We found how to make the proper streak that was needed for the shot.

It wasn't small enough.

And, it being the twelfth hour and needing to get the shot out,

we ended up basically spray-painting a peanut green.

But it was moving quick.

Yeah, so no one saw it, but...

"The despicable, disgusting blob," as they call him.

I don't think that anybody really knew that his inspiration,

I remember talking to Dan Aykroyd, was Bluto from Animal House.

-[Bruno] Yeah, John Belushi.

- John Belushi was the inspiration of this.

We're asking what this character's supposed to be.

[Bruno] And Pee-wee Herman was gonna be the Gozer at one point.

- And then it went to Grace Jones.

-[Edlund] Grace Jones.

[Bruno] Grace Jones, which is the line, "Aim for the flat top."

The character of Louis was John Candy, which ended up being Rick Moranis.

But we had storyboarded the whole sequence with John Candy.

And then we had shot these elements of this ghost.

We had to make this really tight-fitting, gossamer gown that she was wearing.

It's sort of flowing.

And so she could float and we shot her against black.

To make a mold everybody would sort of rub Vaseline

-[Therrien laughs]

-delicately around certain places

and finally she grabbed one of the guys and said,

"Come on, let's just get on with this," and she grabbed his hand

-and pushed it on there.


The first glimpse the audience gets of him is this little, "What the hell is that?"

You know.

I mean, you're looking between the buildings

and so you kind of see him but you don't know what you've seen.

And then when he steps out on Broadway,

it's like this great King Kong kind of exposition.

[Stetson] I remember that forced perspective set we made of Central Park.

We were just rolling model cars down the street

and some of them we radio-controlled.

And drove one of them kind of haphazardly into a fire hydrant.

Took several takes just to get the darn car

to hit the fire hydrant as it turned out.

[Edlund] But when that fire hydrant went

you had that good, spewing-sand technique.

Yeah, Pete Gerard made this little spray device that just shot fine sand up

-to simulate the water.

- Yeah.

The weird scale that we ended up at made a real problem

for all the-- Just populating the streets with vehicles.

It turned out to be 1/18th scale.

You don't find any accurate model kits in that scale so...

I scoured Toys R Us and found this police car

that looked like a New York police car.

It was the right vintage and the right size as it turned out.

So I called all the Toys R Us stores in Southern California

and bought all they had.

And we had something like 100 of these police cars.

We chopped them up and turned them into firetrucks

and taxis and police cars and everything else.

The other decision that we had to make was the scale of it.

And that became a huge discussion and it was all centered around the size

of the Marshmallow Man.

And how big the Marshmallow Man was to be.

He's a 112-and-a-half feet tall.

[others laugh, indistinct chatter]

I don't know why.

[Neil] Between camera speeds, lighting and his performance,

he gave the character,

uh, the volume. He actually made him 90 feet or 112-and-a-half feet tall.

[Bruno] And he was doing this double-bounce walk

like a cartoon character

and it looked really, really stupid.

And I remember Ivan-

We sent over this footage and he just went

"Oh, my God, how can this possibly be the end of my movie?

I remember he got really nervous and we kept saying

"it's gonna work. It's gonna work." They haven't seen the finished suit.

[Morris] I mean, here we got, even this 25, 30 thousand dollar suit,

we got three of them in the world.

We set the guy on fire, he falls down.

That's the universal signal of "I'm in trouble."

-[Windell laughs]

- 80 we put him out.

So there goes 20,000 bucks and we gotta try again tomorrow night.

We do it again and he does it again. And then we hired,

-[Windell chuckles]

-uh, Tony Caesar.

"And, okay, all you gotta do is step up on this box,

-slap the top of this church. Got it?"

-[Edlund laughs]

"Yeah, but I don't wanna use the supplied air, right?"

Well, we argued for 10 minutes about the fact that he was going to have to be

on supplied air because the phone on this thing was toxic.

- I won.

-[Windell] All that marshmallow is basically shaving cream. We had to mix it in 500 gallon batches.

-[Edlund] And it weighed like 500 pounds.

- Yeah.

- 80 when it hit the actor, it actually...

- It went whacky.

[Krepela] Oh, yeah and the OSHA guide.

He didn't know that was going to happen to him.

They said "Just stand here, you know,

-look around"

-[others laugh]

And they dumped all that shaving cream on him in the middle of the street.

And he didn't even know it was gonna happen.

He got really really, really angry at everybody.

[Morris] Well, we told her that we gonna put a little pyrotechnics on the can.

[Windell] Yeah.

Operative word "little."

And it was loaded pretty heavy.

And that line where she sticks her head right there around the corner.

What the hell are you doing?

She's looking straight at us and she's not happy.

[others laugh]

You know, John and I worked in animation.

You can draw anything you want and John kept drawing these things that you--

Easier drawn than done.

And when he did the finale with the temple blowing off

he had this shape from the explosion. It was hilarious.

You know the guy was standing right there.

I showed it to Thaine and I said "Thaine, can you do that?"

And he'd go "Yeah."

And I remember after, we were so proud of the explosion. How cool it looked.

Mark came to me and said "How strong do you want me to make this building?"

I said "Stronger than you can."

So we welded up a frame out of quarter inch steel around the whole temple there.

I just couldn't believe that you needed it that strong.

And then we started talking about detector aprons to get the blast

to shoot out the sides like the original illustration.

Ivan said "But they'd all have been killed."

- Well, yeah, that's the joke.

- That's the whole point.

That's the joke. I mean...

I was standing about 100 feet away when that thing went off

-and I had stuff going over my head.

-[others laugh]

I had the unique privilege of being

hit in the head by one of

-the best pyro men in California.

-[others laugh]

One of the errant benches on top of the temple went flying through the air

hit the plexiglass, careened off and creased me in the skull.

And you've never been the same.

- Never been the same.

-[others laugh]

In my own defense, I told Wrgil, he came to me and says "Where's it safe?"

I said "Behind me somewhere."

[all laugh]

We were totally serious about making it stupid.

And that the stupidity had to be completely believable.

That, I mean, they were funny, they were gags

but every matte line, every character and every piece of animation model...

everything was done with the detail as if we were doing 2001 Space Odyssey.

But we never let go of the fact that the initial drive

was that it's supposed to be funny.

Well, this is gonna be incredibly stupid.

We're never gonna work again.

What's really going to be funny'?

[laughs, agreeing murmurs]

We thought it was gonna be a big hit but it was a monster hit.

And still my favorite comedy movie of all time.

We got one!

There's a few million more stories out there.


- But these will have to suffice.


[upbeat music starts playing]

[music continues]

[music fades]

Established August 1996

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