Stuff We Love: Creating Virtual Worlds

August 4, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Full Disclosure: this edition of Stuff We Love is just a total nerd-out over really cool, awesome graphics work. 

Specifically, it's a nerd-out over the work of 3D and motion graphics studio Territory for the movie Ghost in the Shell. 

Yes, the movie faced significant questions over its whitewashing of Japanese characters. That's an important conversation to have and you can jump in on that conversation through Time, which created an extensive guide to understanding the issue of whitewashing, or The Hollywood Reporter, which had 4 Japanese actresses dissect the issue within the movie.

We're not downplaying the issue. But for now, would like to focus on the artistic work in creating the dystopian-like Japan that was featured in the film. 

People who saw the film in 3D marvelled at the graphics work. Territory managed to successfully capture and create a hybrid world, where the physical blended in with holograms - both 2D and 3D. 

What drew our attention to this work, was an extensive feature about the Ghost in the Shell universe in Creative Review

All in all, Territory delivered about 175 3D assets for post-production work. 

What we love is not just how real it all looked, but the technical and detailed background work that went into making it all a reality. 

At the heart of the film’s aesthetic are ideas that come from a merging of the organic and the mechanical, the analogue and the digital – and things not being quite as they first appear, a kind of holographic take on physical reality.

This quote is exactly what the challenge was that was faced in this sort of creative ask. We all know what it's like to go see a movie and think, "wow, CGI much?" There's nothing that kills the experience more and makes the movie feel so obviously like a movie. 

Essentially, Territory had to both mimic but also differentiate in what it created for Ghost in the Shell. 

The studio researched everything from the movement of jellyfish to architecture to make the larger-than-life advertisements, communications systems, and people look like it was tangible. 

But then the studio also had to rough up the images, so that they could be seamlessly integrated within the dark universe that the movie's storyline takes place in. 

Territory Concept Art

We won't try to explain all the details, as it's a little out of our capacity. But that said, check out Creative Review's feature on the work. 

There's something to be learned in achieving something so out-of-this world, but in a very nuanced way. 

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