A Look at the Process Behind Ghost in the Shell's Vision of the Future

Ash Thorp

The best thing about the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell is the film’s visual aesthetic. It presents a near-future that’s hyper-saturated with holograms, cybernetic body modification, and slick user interfaces. Some of the creators involved are showing how all that came to be.


In a reel posted to Vimeo, designer Ash Thorp catalogues some of the work he did to help create Ghost in the Shell’s particular look. An accompanying post on Thorp’s website goes more in-depth, showing how the movie’s solid holograms effects came to life and more:


Early on in the film’s development, I met with Rupert to discuss some of the creative direction. He expressed his desire to paint the city with neon lights in a new form that he coined as “Solograms,” which are solid holograms. It is something in the realm of a particle system of light that can be moved and augmented in Z space. I loved the idea and instantly got to work building out concepts and ideas. Below you will see a mix of various style frames, concepts, and final production assets that made it into the film. These concepts then went into post production where Chris Bjerre and I animated and created an asset library for Rupert to paint his city with.

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Concept artist Maciej Kuciara, who worked with Thorp, has also been sharing some of his contributions to the film on Twitter.


This work went into the final version of the film and presents a big departure from earlier conceptualization done by Monika Bielskyte, where the fictional world looked more sprawling and brightly-lit. Despite the shifts and its other flaws, Ghost in the Shell looks good at the very least.



I found the look of the film too artificial, too manufactured. Everything is made to look good on camera, rather than think how people would actually live in this setting. The giant holograms are too big to work as advertisements for the people walking the streets, that in turn looked improbably clean, with some strategically placed trash carefully set down for an effect, rather than naturally strewn about in people’s shoes.

And all that cybernetic augmentation in full display, with everybody obsessing about prosthetics, all the ads promoting new human replacement parts, as if there’s nothing else in this world worth concerning yourself about — a far cry from the source material, where the cybertechnology just is, a natural part of the society that no-one makes a big fuss about, under normal circumstances.