Aussie VFX house Iloura gets a workout on Paul Feig’s ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot


Aussie visual effects and animation company Iloura, part of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, was behind 500 VFX shots for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, including creation of the film’s ghosts.

The Iloura team was led by VFX supervisors Glenn Melenhorst – who helped to create the battle sequence in the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season six, Battle of the Bastards –  and Andrew Hellen, along with Iloura VFX producers Ineke Majoor and Jeannette Manifold.

Pete Travers, Sony Studios’ VFX supervisor for Ghostbusters, said Iloura played “such a strong role in the design of our ghosts”.

“From the first test in pre-production which they hit out of the park, everything Iloura produced was not only of extremely high quality, but had such a strong aspect of creative design, in ways that we hadn't asked [for] or expressed. They went the extra mile, and it always paid off from our vantage point. Glenn and his team made it easy on us, defining the look of our ghostly beings like Gertrude, the Rock Concert Ghost and the Mirror Ghouls,” said Travers.

Iloura’s slate of work focused on look development for and creation of ghostly characters. For Gertrude, a live-action/computer generated (CG) hybrid who ‘lives’ in the library, artists built a skeletal system, designed and added her clothes and lower body, and finished with a "celestial aura". Iloura transformed her from "ethereal beauty to skeletal ectoplasm-spewing-monster," the company said in a statement.

Another Iloura creation was the band of Mirror Ghouls, envisioned by the filmmakers as decomposed creatures in a dark world. They take on a suggestive form from afar, but become more legible as they approach the mirror surface and try to escape.

To achieve this vision, Iloura’s artists developed a number of looks for the translucent creatures. Cooler shading and lighting tones were utilised behind the glass, which shifted to warmer tones as the ghouls approach the surface; a technique that helped inform the audience of their other-worldly environment.

As the ghouls eventually smash through the mirrors and take on vaporous ethereal forms, CG warping and reflective bows were added to the mirror surfaces, as well as practical and CG smashed glass to support the physicality of the event. This kind of seamless transition was key in this film as ghosts and ghouls frequently metamorphose from one form to another.

Mayhem, a large and ominous all-CG ghost who inhabits a concert stadium and appears as part of a heavy metal stage show, was another Illoura creation. He needed to retain a ghostly, translucent look, but with subtle real-world detail such as skin texture and hair which needed to float and move as he flew through the air. An internal glow was added to give him an inner ghostly glow on top of his skeleton and muscle system.

The film's VFX producer, Sean Santiago, touted the company's adaptability.

“I knew that when Iloura said they could do something they would, and they would exceed expectations, and despite the many, many curveballs thrown their way, they continued to deliver quality work. It was an absolute pleasure working with Iloura and something I hope to repeat soon and often.”

Iloura is part of Deluxe's global VFX group, with a team of 200+ in Australia and offices in Sydney and Melbourne.