The Hunger Games: A VFX Blood Sport
But undoubtedly the most fascinating sequence was the Control Room. Hybride had done great tests and Duggal got together with Ross and he realized there was an opportunity to use the Control Room to help tell the story without having to explain events.
"We were ahead of Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence)," Duggal suggests, "and you can go to the Control Room and see a map of where she was in relation to the other tributes, so it was a way for us to show that the game keepers were in control and they could actually change any aspect of what was happening in the arena at any time. You see that in the fire sequence where they attempt to keep her from wandering too close to the edge.
"I was working with some established concept artists and wasn't getting what I was looking for and so I thought I'd try this young guy, Reid Southen, who was recommended to me. We came up a bunch of concept designs and I passed those onto Hybride because what I wanted to do prior to actually shooting the control room was to create some animation that had some information about the performances of the actors. So Hybride created these animations that allowed us to inform the actors even though we didn't know what the content was going to be at that time. And when we got into post, Gary had some very specific ideas about what the graphic content on those desktops looked like, so they worked with us in creating those holograms and their functionality. We went through the whole movie with them going through the whole story and what's happening during the games."
Duggal says in most cases you'd hire a motion graphics company or an expert such as Ben Procter who did the holograms for Avatar and Tron Legacy. "I spoke to him but it worked out well with Hybride," she continues. "They used a combination of 3D and 2D so the main hologram is a 3D model that represents the arena and then using the mesh from that in Flame they created some 2.5D effects and create this idea that the graphics are made up of data that's organic and alive.
"That aspect brings the movie into the future because the design that Gary wanted was a dystopian utopian. It has its roots in the Third Reich and the German World Trade Fair of the '30s. Gary was specific about wanting the integration of form and to see grandeur in the city. But I wanted to bring things that would take us into the future so I studied future EY technologies and screen technologies and tried to move the hologram into a different direction. I brought it to the desktop so they were manipulated by the gamekeepers. Hybride used an array of different graphics for the consoles and they used After Effects and Flame and 3D Equalizer and did a lot of roto even though we had green screens on all of the tables to put the holograms where we wanted."
Duggal reiterates that overall The Hunger Games "was a massive collaboration of all these people in order to achieve so much work in such a short amount of time.
Judging by the results and the phenomenal success of this new franchise, Duggal just might be back for more.
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. His blog is Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), he's a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and he's the author of the upcoming James Bond Unmasked (Spies), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of the iconic superspy from Connery to Craig.