Weta Workshop’s Ghost In The Shell Work Is Incredible

Weta Workshop’s Ghost In The Shell Work Is Incredible
Image: Tested

Not that it needed reinforcing, but just in case, let’s take a moment to geek out at Weta Workshop’s creations for Ghost in the Shell.

Weta showed off some of the animatronics behind the geisha robots in a video with Adam Savage recently, with Weta co-founder Sir Richard Taylor explaining the mechanics of how it all worked.

According to Sir Taylor, a young Japanese actor called Rila Fukushima (whose role in Ghost in the Shell isn’t known, yet) as a model for the hard masks. Her face was then scanned, hardcast, and that was used as a base for building a hard mask that could fit over the heads of other actors.

The stuff Weta produces is always fascinating, but then there’s the animatronics to consider as well. The video’s below so you can watch it for yourself, but take a moment – rewind if you need to – to appreciate how ridiculously intricate the work is. And now think of how many masks, how many creations have to be made for an entire film.

For what it’s worth, do a tour the Weta Workshop cave if you ever get a chance. (It’s included as part of those Lord of the Rings location tours, if you find yourself on one of those.)


  • Not that it needed reinforcing, but just in case, let’s take a moment to geek out at Weta Workshop’s creations for Ghost in the Shell.

    You can go ahead and geek out. After seeing the first picture, I need to fetch the Windex.

  • At least they (kind of) got one Japanese actor in the film apart from Beat Takeshi…

    But really, apart from him they have all of about three or four Japanese actors, all with very minor parts. Thanks Hollywood 🙂

        • Is the issue the Japanese source material? Despite the fact that the nationality of some of the characters are not really discussed.

          E.g. Batou was Army Ranger and has CIA operations experience. For all we know he should be American. And the Major? hell by the end of the anime films even her gender and humanity is no longer an issue…she would be the first person not to give a damn about nationality

          And the largely white cast in the forefront in such an Asian settings almost highlights the racial tones within the GiTS depiction of a future world with a Japanese setting, heavy Chinese cultural elements (and issues of refugee communities) and assertions of American influence within government and corporations…

          • so you admit she’s japanese but convieniently brush it off because it didnt matter anyway?

            Just admit Motoko Kusanagi is japanese and its alittle odd that she’s being played by a white actress.
            Its not an issue, its just odd casting.

          • Not that it doesn’t matter. I know its just Hollywood lazy racism in action.

            I’m coming from the point of view that MAYBE it’s a filmmakers’ interpretation of the themes of the movie. Maybe it’s a literary statement into the issues of wider society that the director wants to portray? We no longer give filmmakers much room to reinterpret anything these days. We want exact remakes in everything…

          • Its just Hollywood making money the way it knows how…

            Big budget Hollywood movie needs big budget Hollywood actor who has a proven track record of being able to reel in the dollars?

            I’m seeing more business decision in this choice than artistic (which is why all those that care about that aspect don’t like it).

          • I still don’t get the hubbub at all. Depending on which version of GitS you look at (Arise, SAC, the movies) the Major’s origins change from Japanese to unsure to fabricated (iirc). On top of that, her body is completely synthetic and is based on a mass-produced model to blend in. What’s to say the mass-produced model wouldn’t be based on Johannson (for reasons).

            I mean other roles have perturbed me, such as the whitewashing of Avatar Last Airbender, but this role is so open to interpretation…

            And then it confuses me when the same people that complain about this seem perfectly happy with the live-action Attack on Titan & Fullmetal Alchemist having an all-Asian cast even though almost all the characters in both of those are European.

          • Nah don’t be ridiculous man – there’s no such complex themes in GitS such as what identity or race truly means when you can change your shell at will anyway. Only the Japanese material is the true OG, you baka gaijins just don’t understand.


          • Avi Arad and Steven Paul just shot themselves in the foot.

            I don’t know how much the rest of you know about Japanese culture (I’m an expert), but honor and shame are huge parts of it. It’s not like it is in Australia where you can become successful by being an arsehole. If you screw someone over in Japan, you bring shame to yourself, and the only way to get rid of that shame is repentance.

            What this means is the Japanese public, after hearing about this, is not going to want to watch Ghost in the Shell, nor will they purchase any of Ghost in the Shell merchandise. This is HUGE. You can laugh all you want, but Avi Arad and Steven Paul have alienated an entire market with this move.

            Avi Arad and Steven Paul, publicly apologize and cancel Ghost in the Shell or you can kiss your careers goodbye.

          • I have no idea what honor or shame have to do with any of this.

            Are you implying that Arad and Paul have brought shame and dishonor upon themselves and offended the entirety of the Japanese GitS fanbase by not casting a Japanese woman as the Major? In a movie/show/manga, half of which the entire point is that identity and self are separate to the exterior shell?

            And then saying they should publicly apologise and cancel the entire movie or their careers will be ruined?


            Even if what you say is true, maybe they should just…not care that much? I don’t care if in an interpretation of, for example, Batman, a Japanese director decided to cast a Japanese actor.

          • Well can I watch the film before they cancel it??

            coz I doubt anyone’s gonna make a better one anytime soon….

    • Since you’re Japanese, I am sure you are more than well aware of the cultural issue that sees Japanese lionisation of white people (especially American) following the defeat of Imperial Japan. As you mentioned, it’s all about the honour and shame.

      • Cultural issue?

        It’s a sub culture revolving around western subculture and predominantly filled with youth, much like the anime subculture in the west.
        They even have a derogatory term for it, like Weeaboo here.

        I found that most people entertain a negative view of the west, especially Americans.
        Spend some time in areas that house American Military bases, they dislike them a lot.

        • I’m pretty sure an examination of the last 60+ years of Japanese history shows a slightly more nuanced view of things. it was a big thing post war and has come and gone in waves since.

    • “Services to the arts” is the actual term i think…It’s the same wording all the actors get

      • I looked it up and it’s actually more impressive than that.

        Wiki:In the New Year Honours 2004 Taylor was appointed to an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to design and the film industry. In the New Year Honours 2010 Taylor was promoted to a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film.

        I’m not denying he’s great at what he does, I just think it’s weird someone would be knighted for it.

  • I did a Weta tour over the Christmas holidays – holy crap was it cool. I stayed behind having a good chat to one of the modelers. The guide to come back 10 minutes later with “yeah… you gotta go now..”

    They’re understandably very secretive about the workshop and no photography is allowed, but I’d go back in a heartbeat.

    • +1. Absolute must see. Last year I got the last tour of the day, and because the tour guide loves it, we banged on well past our allotted.

      On scanning; we saw a printer for it behind a window and got told the story that “someone very famous” had a completed full body scan lying there when a tour group had entered. Apparently someone got in trouble for it, but obviously I didn’t learn who the print was of.

  • Even if Ghost in the Shell turns out to be a disappointment story-wise, you cannot deny that visually it’ll be a masterpiece. Weta is amazing for the amount of detail they put in everything.

    I still remember in the special features for Two Towers, that Theoden’s armour was patterned on the interior. Noone watching the film would ever see it, but it was that level of detail that allowed the actors to immerse themselves in their roles.

    • I knew that Weta was involved, but I didn’t know to what extent. I’m pumped more than ever for the visual quality of the film now. With Weta doing it too, they will sell various GitS themed props and busts as well, just like they have with their other movies!

      With so much previous concepts and theological questions the shows many iterations have gone into over the years, I know some people will end up disappointed no matter what ends up getting released. Hell, even this damn comment thread on this post has turned into a racial casting shitfight, even when a prominent theme in the previous movies was the seperation between race, colour and gender in a society when all can be fabricated and changed.

      People do love their drama.

      • I know what you mean. I wrote earlier as a response to someone else how I don’t understand the argument, because if there was any anime that was open to interpretation due to its many versions it was GitS.

        But back onto Weta, I just wanted to add that whenever I see Weta’s work and level of detail, it always makes me sad that the live-action adaption of Neon Genesis Evangelion that was in discussion between Weta & Gainax never saw fruition.

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