Look Under the Sheets of ‘Boo Crew‘

We are very excited for the upcoming September 1 release of AtmosFX’s newest digital decoration, Boo Crew. Much of what takes place in this family-friendly digital decoration remains shrouded under a blanket of mystery – or more appropriately, under a white bed sheet of mystery.

But not everything! We’d like to show you something that most mortals will never see – the insides of a ghost. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of work to make something that is, uh, more-or-less invisible.

Boo Crew features the antics of three ghosts – Ghouly, Creuelly and Booly – as well as several supporting characters with whom the ghostly trio interacts. One of these ghosts we call “Ghost #1” or sometimes “Friendly Ghost.” (Not to be confused with that other friendly ghost!)

As with all the characters in Boo Crew, “Ghost #1” was created by co-founder Pete Williams. He created the “look” of the characters, and then it was up to the talented AtmosFX animation team to take it from there. “Ghost #1” serves as a great example of the multiple steps it takes to create just one of the many ghosts that make up a digital decoration like Boo Crew. Let’s begin:


The first step is understanding what the character will look like from several different angles. AtmosFX concept artist Colleen McMahon created various expressions and poses from the original idea. “I was tasked with imagining the ghosts doing different things,” McMahon says. “For example, how would a ghost hold a flashlight if it were scared all the time, versus a ghost who was perpetually happy?”


Next, the animators model what’s under the bed sheet. The intention here is not to create the entire ghost, nor the flowing sheet that will be placed “over” Ghost #1. At this point, the animation team wants just a stubby, nubby ghost that will collide with the sheet as they move it around.


The next step is to model the sheet that will cover the “stubby” ghost. This model will have a “Cloth Simulator Tag” applied to it.


Now it is time to “rig” our ghost – with bones! Obviously, real ghosts don't have bones, but for the purposes of animation, the animation team must create them. This is how they will get the characters to move. As the bones are put into position, then controllers are created that the animators can use to manipulate the character.


After rigging the body, the face gets some attention. Every conceivable expression is modeled into Ghost #1's geometry, and saved into what is called “Pose Morph Tag.” This allows the animators to easily change the ghost’s expression as they animate.


And last, the model is textured. This is usually a tedious step, but since our ghost characters in Boo Crew are just white sheets, it ended up being super simple.


Boo Crew will be available September 1, 2017, as a high-definition (HD) digital download only at the AtmosFX Online Store. The complete collection will retail for $39.99, or $9.99 for each individual scene.

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