Ghostbusters Proton Stream Tutorial


The Perfect Proton Stream

The perfect proton stream needs three things:

  1. Great animation for the proton stream itself
  2. Details like plasma and energy bursts
  3. Great glows / compositing

While I’ve always been a movie buff, it wasn’t until my 2nd year in university that I developed an interest in visual effects. Like most artists in my generation, I started with Adobe After Effects making cheesy 2D light saber and blaster battles. About six months later, I received the Ghostbusters Slimed Box Set for my birthday. Watching the films rekindled my childhood love for the Ghostbusters franchise. I started searching online for rumors of a third installment when I came across a Ghostbusters fan film out of Denver. They were looking for artists to donate time to the film in return for exposure. That’s how I got into VFX. I spent a lot of time researching proton streams, and created what I think is the best combination of proton streams seen in Ghostbusters 1 and 2. Years later, I was troubled that most attempts at proton streams posted on YouTube were pretty inadequate. I decided to make a Houdini digital asset proton stream tool and accompanying tutorials to allow any aspiring VFX artists to make the perfect proton stream. Enjoy!

For Return of The Ghostbusters, I initially used After Effects and hand animation of splines.  To save time, I started using a spline with some 3D noise as the base.  I still used After Effects for the plasma and energy bursts which was all 2D plugins.  However, to make a really great proton stream, everything needs to be 3D.  Using the Houdini digital asset could’t be easier.  With Houdini Engine, you can even use it inside Maya. If you’ve never used Houdini, with a few basic tutorials, you’ll be making perfect proton streams in no time.


Proton Stream – Houdini Digital Asset


Proton Stream Tutorial Part 1: Overview
Proton Stream Tutorial Part 2: Animation
Proton Stream Tutorial Part 3: Rendering
Proton Stream Tutorial Part 4: After Effects Compositing


Ryan P. Wilson

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