The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 finds Katniss Everdeen in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of Commander Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.
Lead by MPC VFX Supervisor Dave Seager and VFX Producer Jennifer Fairweather, MPC worked closely with production VFX Supervisor Charles Gibson on the movie. The VFX work on the movie was divided primarily by District and location. In the story of the Hunger Games, North America is now unified as the nation of Panem, which consists of thirteen Districts. Each District has a specific industrial focus and look as defined by the film’s production design team. Therefore, the look and overall visual effects were very specific to each District, allowing the filmmakers to divide the visual effects work amongst vendors as defined by District. MPC’s work was primarily divided between District 13, the underground rebel base of operation, and District 7, the industrial center for lumber production.
One of the team’s first tasks was to build a location known as ‘The Collective”, which dominates District 13. The Collective is the underground hub of the rebellion, which acts as a transit thoroughfare and location where the rebel leaders hold public rallies. The design of The Collective is similar to a gigantic cylinder, measuring several hundred feet tall and 100 feet in diameter. The overall aesthetic of District 13, as defined by the filmmakers, was very industrial, utilitarian, and simple. Similarly, the palette of District 13 is intentionally very drab – dominated by raw poured concrete, pipes, and grey uniforms. The lower three floors of The Collective were built as a practical location on a sound stage and MPC’s work was to digitally extend the practical set and to populate this with District 13 digital inhabitants.
The environment team, lead by Pier Lefebvre, designed and built a 3D model of The Collective, which was lit and rendered in Vray. The Vray renders were done using complex geometry but without any textures. These lit grey renders which were used as a foundation by the matte painting team that was in-turn projected back onto the geometry.
The crowd replication in The Collective was achieved using a combination of 2D and 3D techniques. Hundreds of extras dressed in the uniforms of the rebellion were shot on blue screens from a variety of camera angles to build a library for MPC’s team to use. These blue screen extras were then populated into The Collective environment using both cards placed in 3D and 2D tracking. Crowd agents were built and animated in MPC’s proprietary crowd simulation toolset ‘Alice’
Another area of environment work for District 13 was a crater near the surface that was created as a result of a bombing attack by the Capital. The lower third of the crater was built as a practical outdoor location that was extended by MPC’s environment team. Additionally, there was a need to enhance the damage that was visible on the practical crater set. This was achieved by introducing burning and charring to the debris and introducing 2D smoke elements.
MPC’s sequence in District 7 follows a group of lumberjacks who are being marched to work by a squad of Peacekeepers. In the story a group of lumberjacks are forced to climb trees in order to elude the Peacekeepers. However, the forest in which the scene was shot did not include trees that had a canopy thick enough to hide the lumberjacks, therefore every shot in the sequence required the addition of a tree canopy thick enough to hide the lumberjacks. The tree canopy addition was achieved through a combination of 2D and 3D branches. Dan Breckwoldt, MPC’s compositing supervisor, also oversaw the addition of 2D elements including lumberjacks, Peacekeepers, and practical explosions.