Here’s a quick, cheap way to create a ghost effect, in-camera, without any VFX! Also known as “Pepper’s Ghost”, this effect has been around for ages, and is still used today. Disney World’s “Haunted Mansion” and the “Hogwarts Express” at Universal Studios both this effect, and a modified version of this is still used in modern tele-prompters.
- A dark, low-light scene
- Large pane of glass (or plexiglass) held up by a stand or clamps
- Black blankets or fabric to hang behind your ghost
In front of the camera, angle your sheet of glass so that your ghost behind the camera is reflected in the glass directly into the frame. (The black sheet behind your ghost-actor keeps anything else except the ghost from reflecting!)
Experiment with the glass placement and angle, but usually having the glass equally distant between your two subjects helps with the size of the effect, as well as the focus. It will take some adjustments until it’s just right!
Make sure to light your ghost to get the effect you want. Top-down lighting can create dark shadows under the eyes, but under-lighting them could also make them look creepy and hellish!
Light your “live” subject separately. Make sure there aren’t too many white/bright backgrounds in your frame, because they will cause your ghost to not show up as clearly.
Experiment with timing and interactions, dimming your ghost’s light up and down (which can cause them to appear and disappear) and have fun!