Adam Savage Explores GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE’s Practical Effects

Ghostbusters: Afterlife introduced bustin’ to a whole new generation. But it also paid homage to the franchise’s early days. We’re not just talking about the return of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson, though. Director Jason Reitman wanted to use as many practical effects as he could in the film. Even when that meant building a whole lot of traps for the movie’s grand finale. It’s an undertaking that is even more impressive after Tested‘s Adam Savage went behind-the-scenes to learn how the crew pulled it off.

Adam Savage’s final video exploring the making of  Ghostbusters: Afterlife focuses on the movie’s big ending, when nearly 200 traps activated simultaneously. With so many pieces it would be hard to fault anyone who opted to do that scene entirely as a digital effect. But Jason Reitman wanted the film to be “in camera” as much as possible.

And while you can’t hire real ghosts, the traps used to capture them can be made. So the movie’s special effects team actually built all of them. Of course, making them is a totally different challenge than synching them all up.

Dozens of traps used in Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Adam Savage’s Tested

To learn how they actually pulled it all off Savage met with the film’s special effects supervisor, Elia Popov. This sequence required the efforts of multiple teams and a whole lot of programming. Nearly 200 traps opening simultaneously is impressive enough. But thanks to their self-contained hardware they also combined to create an incredible light show.

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) grins with delight as she fires a proton pack, while Podcast (Logan Kim), wearing a pair of night vision goggles, cheers her on in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Columbia Pictures

Popov also offered insight into how they built the film’s trucks. Reitman wanted a very rare model that is all but impossible to find. That meant they had to make their own from scratch. But that also allowed them to make the trucks a practical effect unto themselves. Of course, you can’t exactly build 200 of those, so everything has to go just right when you flip one.

But all that effort is worth it. We’re not afraid of ghosts, but we can’t stand crappy CGI.

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