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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2: Visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson interview

By Trevor Hogg

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Date Added: 15th December 2015

All images © Lionsgate

VFX supervisor Charles Gibson discusses the effects created by studios like Weta Digital and Double Negative for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2...


The futuristic saga of a marginalized citizen of a totalitarian state who transforms into an influential revolutionary comes to a dramatic conclusion in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Orchestrating the 1,200 visual effects shots for filmmaker Francis Lawrence was Charles Gibson, who had the same responsibility for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 trailer

Comparing Mockingjays

The mandate from Francis Lawrence was to translate concepts from the book into his realistic version. "The two films are different in tone and execution,” observes Gibson. "Mockingjay – Part 2 was more of an action/war film with big set pieces playing within The Capitol. We had to enhance battle action and create believable environments that would hold up for extended coverage. Part 2 also required the creation of Capitol traps – "Pods” – that needed to be tentpole moments in the film.”


Collaborating with Phil Messina and Joe Willems

Key members assisting with the cinematic adaptation were Phil Messina, who was responsible for the production design for the entire franchise, and the cinematographer for the last three films, Jo Willems. "Phil and I had extensive discussions about locations vs. building digital sets; we agreed that a mix of both would be best for the film,” remarks Charles Gibson. "For the end sequence where Katniss and Gale are involved in a firefight in The Capitol, Phil built a skeleton footprint of a portion of The Capitol that was a great start for the photography; we ended up populating, modifying and extending it in all directions. With Joe Willems, it was more of a constant dialogue about what was needed on a day-to-day basis, where we needed blue screens, how we would approach a certain scene if there was to be a set extension, how we'd like a shadow to appear, and how to handle a day-for-night shot.”


Storyboards, Previs & Green Screen

"Francis storyboards and does previs to help the department heads bid and break down complicated sequences,” states Gibson. "We did that in the case of the Lizard Mutants and for some of the firefight in The Capitol. The Capitol Sequence with Gale and Katniss and Snow's execution represented our biggest Green Screen efforts: containers on three sides stacked six high in order to cast the appropriate shadows. Those sequences were all handled by Double Negative, London.”


Communication was essential in making sure that there was a successful marriage between visual effects, special effects and stunts. There were quite a few BG extensions and augmentations once we arrive in The Capitol and in District 2 – making the best of existing locations and extending them. Not too many digital doubles; only a few times in the Lizard Mutation Sequence.”


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