A prison on the Upper East Side was the first prison in New York to execute prisoners by the electric chair. The first person executed by the electric chair returned as a malevolent ghost. Eventually, the Seward Street Subway Station was built under the site of the prison, now defunct, but it always had power issues like lights flickering. In the present, Rowan North discovered the station was on one of the city's Ley Lines. He energized it with a Hyper-Ionization Device and ionized the ghost of the executed man further than it did to Gertrude Aldridge. It manifested as the Electrocuted Ghost. Patty Tolan stepped down onto the tracks with a Streamlight E-Spot Firebox Flashlight Lantern in search of Rowan. The Hyper-Ionization Device sparked atop a panel. Patty looked at it then saw a figure up ahead. Patty yelled at him that only subway workers were allowed in the area. The device unleashed huge sparks and exploded into pieces. The man she saw was really the Electrocuted Ghost. He hovered over the tracks and caused them to spark. Rowan peered out from his hiding place. The ghost growled then contorted its head at Patty. Patty was naturally confused. Rowan found it exquisite. Patty told it she was cool. The ghost floated closer to her. She dropped the flashlight lantern and ran off.
Later, Patty brought the Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination to the subway station. Abby Yates noticed the scorch marks created by the explosion of Hyper-Ionization Device. Erin Gilbert thought she detected fission scorch then guessed she smelled both electrical discharge and isotopic decay. Abby agreed. They smelled it again and both nodded. Abby called Jillian Holtzmann over for her opinion. She sniffed it. Patty reminded them they only had a couple of minutes left. Electricity cackled and the P.K.E. Meter spun rapidly. Holtzmann saw the Electrocuted Ghost. Erin thought she was messing with them. Holtzmann denied it. Erin and Abby saw it. Abby asked Patty for some illumination on the ghost. She complied. It looked scarier. Holtzmann walked back to the Proton Box. Patty was insistent that was the ghost she saw. Abby noticed it was even more ionized than Gertrude Aldridge and turned on her Sony 4K Camcorder to get the ghost on film. Holtzmann was already powering up the Proton Box and typed on a keypad. Abby declared they were talking the ghost back to the lab. Holtzmann cautioned the technology was in its early stages. At 4:21 pm, Holtzmann handed a bulky particle thrower to Erin. Holtzmann told her the thrower was going to shoot a proton stream at the ghost and instructed her to wait for her go ahead. Erin inquired why she was operating the untested nuclear laser. Holtzmann noted she had the longest arms.
A train horn blew nearby. Patty advised them to hurry up. Holtzmann placed a collar around Erin's neck for a little bit of grounding so she didn't die immediately. Patty asked them if they caught a ghost before. Holtzmann gave her the green light to aim and fire. The proton stream fired but stopped way short of the ghost and drooped into the ground. Abby suggested more power. Holtzmann tried again. Erin fired off a sustained stream and wrangled the ghost but it was still coming at them. Erin asked if the stream could get any stronger. The ghost growled and thrashed at them as the stream entangled it but it continued to close in on Erin. The ghost pawed at her. Erin gasped and fell on her back. Patty alerted them the train was coming and it was time to leave. Abby asked Erin to lure it back on the platform. The Proton Box fell on its side. They pulled Erin to the platform. The train closed in. Patty realized that was the express train, which meant it wasn't stopping at the station. Holtzmann quickly removed the collar. The train rammed the Proton Box and the ghost. The impact drenched most of them in Ectoplasm and they lost hold of the ghost. The ghost found itself inside the moving train. Patty concluded he was headed to Queens but added he was going to be the third scariest thing on that train. Abby was pleased the power surge really held him. Holtzmann was excited. She had a clear idea how how to add more power to subdue ghosts and how to make the technology more mobile. Erin remarked she almost got killed. Holtzmann thought it was so awesome. Abby agreed.
Abby uploaded her 17 second video of the Electrocuted Ghost, "Ionized Class 4 Apparition in subway," online under her "ParanormalAbby" account. Erin pointed out everyone thought the video was fake and repeated they had to bring a ghost back to the lab and document it to prove it. User TimWeber replied, "lol this is some FAKE BS" and got 22 likes. RichardMc12 replied to Tim saying, "These girls are FRAUDS! This is CLEARLY FAKE!" with 1 like. Cheeshit replied, "This is THE LAMEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN" and got 30 likes and 2 replies. Regglet replied to Cheeshit saying, "FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE. AM I RIGHT?!" Dylantem3 replied, "SO REAL.....NOT!" with 1 like. Abby assured they would and advised her against reading things crazy people wrote in the middle of the night online. Abby stopped and noticed a "bogus equipment" comment. She typed, "I'd love you to meet me any place, any time." Briefly, NY1 News showed footage featuring the ghost but Martin Heiss debunked it. During the battle in Times Square, Gertrude Aldridge and the Electrocuted Ghost teamed up to cause Erin more trouble. She pulled out her Proton Grenade Launcher and shot at them both, sending them flying in the sky far.
The initial plan was to enhance Dave Gruber Allen in costume but as process went on, it was discovered to be easier to film and replace the ghost entirely than enhance the actor. The background was replaced so that camera tracing was not an issue and those who did rig removal didn't have to patch over Allen's wire rig. The ghost was fully keyframe animated. For reference, the effects team studied Dave Allen's acting on the set such as the movement of his arms and body. They chose to distend the ghost's mouth so that it was essentially double hinged, allow for the ghost to turn his head 180 degrees, and add electricity and smoke. The ghost's threatening presence on the set was sacrificed for interaction with the rest of the cast. On the wire rig, Dave Allen provided the right eye lines. The alternatives were to film Allen in a water tank or shoot Allen at a higher frame rate with a wind machine but then the cast could not interact with him as much.
The ghost's translucence was achieved with a combination of lighting passes and compositing. The VFX team rendered a 'photographically real' ghost with skin and everything fully textured and rendered out a skeleton with fully textured and displacement maps. The ghost's beard was 'groomed' in Houdini, rendered with the character to get proper shadowing and lighting with V-Ray, used nCloth for the prison garments and kept them in Maya as a base part of the character. It was cached through Alembic to send it to Houdini. nCloth helped inform the motion of all of the Houdini-based effects. The VFX team created a 'treads pass' to help match the up the feel of the prison garb and see details in close up shots. Compositing supervisor Kurt Lawson built a set-up pipeline that was robust and allowed for maximum flexibility which allowed the rest of team to react quickly to feedback with more or less translucency in compositing instead of revisiting the CG lighting and re-rendering everything. For filming when the ghost is hit by the subway train, the crew loosely simulated a train by pushing a dolly with a large light on it. The Zero VFX team removed the element, replaced the train and tunnel, and added the ghost in the train.
The ghost was a Class 4 semi-anchored entity.
- The initial idea for the back story was he was the ghost of a man who was hung.
- Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig admitted one of the freakier moments in filming was sequence set in a subway tunnel. Dave Gruber Allen, the actor portraying the Electrocuted Ghost, was covered in heavy prosthesis and blue lights, and apparently McCarthy and Wiig received a few good shoves.
- Zero VFX did visual effects on the Electrocuted Ghost.
- The Zero VFX team nicknamed the ghost "Fred". They were instructed to play with the notion that he was the first person to be executed by electric chair in New York.
- The first person executed by electric chair in New York was William Kemmler but the execution did not take place in Manhattan.
- On page 4 of Ghostbusters 101 #3, in panel 1, on the laptop is Abby's recording of the Electrocuted Ghost seen in Chapter 7.
- Electrocuted Ghost appears on the IDW Convention Variant Cover of Ghostbusters 35th Anniversary: Answer The Call Ghostbusters.
- Ghostbusters (2016 Movie)
- Patty Tolan (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Extended Edition; Chapter 6 (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 00:37:36-00:37:50). Sony Pictures. Patty Tolan says: "You know, up above us was the old New York prison. It's the first place in New York that they electrocuted people. I'm telling you, it used to take so long that they'd just be like, "Shoot him. We using too much electricity." That's why I knew something weird was going on down here, man."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The brief was make Fred look cool, but to also play on the notion that he had been electrified, as he was the ghost of the first person to be put in the electric chair in New York."
- Patty Tolan (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Extended Edition; Chapter 6 (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 00:42:-28:42:29). Sony Pictures. Patty Tolan says: "Well, I guess he going to Queens."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The Ghostbusters come face to face with a subway ghost in a sequence that was initially intended to be achieved with enhancements to a live action actor in costume. As the sequence developed it was found to be easier and more flexible to keep the overall approach of the shot in terms of cinematography, but replace the ghost entirely and not enhance the actor (ex GG town troubadour, Dave Allen). To make this easier, most of the time the background was also replaced so that camera tracing was not an issue and rig removal did not need to be used to patch over the suspended actor's extensive wire rig."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The ghost was fully keyframe animated but with visual reference to Allen's acting choices on set combined with the added ‘untethered’ look of his arms and body movements. For the facial animation, the team wanted to distend the face so that Fred’s mouth would, for example, open far larger than it could in real life (it is basically double hinged)."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The digital ghost could also do other things no actor could. For example, there was another shot when the ghost’s head turns almost all the way around 180 degrees to look at the Ghostbusters, adding to his creepiness."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: ""The production wanted a lot of electricity surrounding him," explains Warner. We asked ourselves about how we could make it ethereal, and how we could make the photography and performance and character all look real together, with the smoke and electricity. We also thought a lot about who Fred was before he became a ghost, and built a lot of that visual identity into his character, and into the character of the effects...The ghost wasn't just a vaporous apparition; he had a story we needed to tell. He was a bad dude, and we had to extend that story."."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Allen in costume on wire rig provided both the right eye lines and something for the actresses to play off of, but the live action photography could not capture the flowing nature of the ghostly costume. Had it been shot in a water tank, as was done with some of the original effects in the 80s, the director would have lost the interaction with the cast. Similarly, the team could have tried the old school technique of shooting Allen over cranked at a higher frame rate with a wind machine, but again this would loose the on set interaction that is so key to comedic timing. This restricted the on-set solution to wires and rigs and that simply did not produce a sufficiently threatening presence for Fred."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The translucency was accomplished with a combination of lighting passes and compositing. The team knew that they had to see the skeleton from time to time, depending on the lighting interactions, so they rendered a 'photographically real' ghost with skin and everything fully textured. They also rendered out a skeleton with fully textured and displacement maps, affording them control over the level of translucency during the compositing process."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Fred’s beard was groomed in Houdini and rendered with the character to get proper shadowing and lighting with V-Ray. Zero VFX used nCloth for the prison garments and kept them in Maya as a base part of the character. They cached this through Alembic to send it to Houdini. nCloth informed the motion of all the Houdini-based effects that were generated. "It ended up being a pretty complex path system, going from Maya out to Houdini and then back into Maya for V-Ray for the lighting rendering," explains Warner. "Thankfully we had a great comp team who put it all together!"."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "Trying to match the feeling of cloth and making it feel like Fred was wearing his grey prison suit was one thing, but the team also had to think about how to make a grey prison suit both photo-real and translucent. "We went so far as to look right down into the details of cotton fabric, and when you do that you see little details like the piling that happens that gives a little bit of texture – we created what we called a 'treads pass' or 'strings pass' for some of the really close up shots. That gave us that extra bit of texture detail on that pajama prison suit". Compositing supervisor Kurt Lawson built a set-up pipeline that was robust and allowed for maximum flexibility. The team could react quickly to feedback with more or less translucency in comp instead of needing to revisit the CG lighting and re-rendering everything."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The sequence ends with our heros escaping not only Fred but a speeding Subway train. Fred gets hit by the train, and with each carriage hit, he explode with ectoplasm. The train was set up on set with the crew pushing a dolly with a large light on it, to simulate the on coming train. Perhaps understandably the crew could not push a dolly as fast as a NY subway train so the Zero VFX team needed to fully remove this element and completely replace the train, the tunnel and then add in Fred trapped inside."
- Abby Yates (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Extended Edition; Chapter 6 (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 00:38:11-00:38:15). Sony Pictures. Abby Yates says: "Uh, have you seen a Class 4, semi-anchored entity anywhere in the vicinity?"
- Abby Yates (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Extended Edition; Chapter 6 (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 00:40:43-00:40:48). Sony Pictures. Abby Yates says: "We got another Class 4, and this one's even more ionized than the one at the Aldridge Mansion."
- Narrator (2016). Simon & Schuster- "Ghostbuster's Handbook" (2016) (Book p.19). Page reads: "Before she became a Ghostbuster, she was already able to identify the second ghost the Ghostbusters ever encountered, a Class IV semianchored entity whom the team called "Sparky"."
- Katie Dippold (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Special Features; "The Ghosts of Ghostbusters" (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 0:04:46-0:04:56). Sony Pictures. Katie Dippold says: "That ghost has had many different versions. 'Cause at first, I think it was someone who was hung, and then a ghost that was hung by a noose maybe felt a little dark."
- Cinema Blend "10 Ecto-Cool Things We Learned on theGhostbusters Set" page 10 4/28/16 'Line reads says: "Curious about this aspect of the movie, I asked Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig about any freaky moments during production, and both reflected on one particular sequence set in a subway tunnel. During the scene, their characters are chased down a tunnel by a speedy ghost covered in heavy prosthetic and blue lights, and apparently they received a few good shoves. Evidently it was quite the creepy experience for the women, and even though McCarthy has actually known the guy for a decade, it still managed to freak her out."
- Cinema Blend "10 Ecto-Cool Things We Learned on theGhostbusters Set" page 10 4/28/16 Kristen Wiig says: "He was glowing with blue lights, and his teeth, and he was above us, going at a speed, and we sort of had to run away from him. There was one take where he went faster than normal and we were like, 'Oh my God!'."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "It's a great moment, which let us help sell the story for the filmmakers – that's our entire vision in life at Zero VFX."
- fxguide "Who you gonna call? Call Illoura, MPC, SPI, & Zero VFX" 8/10/16 Line reads: "The team nicknamed the ghost "Fred." The brief was make Fred look cool, but to also play on the notion that he had been electrified, as he was the ghost of the first person to be put in the electric chair in New York. This meant adding things such as vapour or plasma."
- Abby Yates (2016). Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) Extended Edition; Chapter 12 (2016) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:17:56-1:18:05). Sony Pictures. Abby Yates says: "All right, I would like to remind everybody here that in a very short amount of time, we have seen multiple Class 4 malevolent apparitions."
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