Sunday, July 31, 2011

The road is paved with polygons: Ghostbusters Proton Pack

Who’s not a fan of Ghostbusters? If you said, “I’m not!” well then…I don’t like you very much, and you’re a bad person; you smell and children hate you! No, not really…but really you do smell, do something about that.

Fetishising movies from the 80s sure isn’t new. I’d love to get a DeLorean body kit and build my own Back to the Future car. I’d even fly Christopher Lloyd down here, we could chill, go to the Taco Truck, that type of thing. Ghostbusters is right there too; seriously look up the Ecto-1 and see how obsessive some people get when trying to retrofit an old 50s ambulance into the Ghostbusters vehicle of choice.

I originally wanted to design the Ecto-1 – I had gathered tons of reference material, but for some reason (I don’t have any true idea…let’s just blame Jeff Goldblum, he’s awful) I just decided against crafting the Ghostbustinmobile in three dimensions.

I opted for the Proton Pack, which also had tons of fan material for easy inspiration. And really the Proton Pack is as simple a model as one can find; so if I can knock a project out within a short amount of time, and it looks relatively good, I’m fine with that.

Look closely, it’s really just a series of boxes and tubes strewn about; there is some order to the chaos, but for the most part it really looks like a messy set of cables and dials…I’m here to say there’s much more to it.

I mean look at all that junk. That’s the Proton Pack in one word, junk! It’s certainly not the supermodel of movie props, but there’s no denying it’s popularity and iconography – plus it’s just so different, nothing else looks quite like it; it’s ugly, but a cool kind of ugly, like Sean Connery.

I was astonished to find that all the fictitious warning labels were all created by fans and put online for those trying to make their own real Proton Pack prop-- Hurrah, for nerdiness!

Having the labels already available to me was invaluable for creating the final texture. As all I needed was a few color channels and detail maps to make it look close to the real thing.

I was surprised at how time consuming it was to finish. There are so many little parts, and those little parts have even littler parts on them. All the wiring was just as confusing to create, as it is to follow…some of the wires just go off into nothingness. 

Think of the model as just a rectangle, with smaller boxes; some tubes and wires and then dirt – that’s essentially the gist of the entire mock-up. If you go back and watch the film the Pack is insanely dirty like someone drug it behind a car then tried to clean it, but with a dirty diaper. I should have added some scuffs and scratches now that I’m looking at it more than a year later, to make it look more worn.

And no it doesn’t light up. That would’ve been cool to be sure. Honestly though they would have only shown upon rendering out the model or putting it into a game engine, neither of which I was interested in spending time on.  

I really can’t go in depth with the modeling process because it’s pretty boring. Most of the time was spent making sure each piece matched the movie version. I just wanted to share what the model looked like; the creative process and how I went about actually doing that is unspectacular.

I had fun making it though, and I learned that Ghostbusters’ fans are super passionate about the film…a third Ghostbusters movie would probably be a bag of dog doodie – the first movie will always be awesome regardless, and ranks among my favorites; So designing and learning about the Ghostbusters’ self made equipment was a pretty fresh experience. 

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