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Inside the VFX of ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’

A particular challenge was the hovercraft which is a central location for a lot of the film and which utilized a hybrid of practical and CG effects.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson talks to Art of VFX about his work on the third film in the dystopian saga.

“[Director] Francis [Lawrence] wanted a naturalistic look and feel to the movie which was largely viewed through the eyes of Katniss. This translated into using natural light, mostly hand held camera with very long takes, and shooting in existing, organic locations with natural atmosphere,” Gibson says about his directives. “The effects would always have to integrate into the photography rather than bending the photography to fit with the effects.”

A particular challenge was a hovercraft which is a central location for a lot of the film. “Francis was very keen on shooting long, all-in-one takes with handheld camera where the Hovercraft could enter the frame, land, and the actual actors could disembark and walk straight into a close-up. There are many ways to achieve this, of course, but Francis wanted everything to feel as real as possible–not just the VFX, but for the actors, too,” Gibson explains.

“I proposed that we build a lightweight interior Hovercraft set piece suspended from a crane with a one-axis inverted gimbal: The interior would actually move through space, we would able to see the real actors inside, the technology was relatively simple and predictable. We also added high-powered electric fans to the rig to blow dust and debris as the hovercraft landed,” he continues. “Once the set piece touched down safely, the actors could walk down a blue screen ramp and continue the scene without the camera cutting. Double Negative created a very detailed, high-resolution exterior “skin” for the hovercraft which was match moved onto the set piece, integrated into the scene (under the dust and debris). That was the basic technique we used for those shots.”

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