Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent trilogy, sees Tris (Shailene Woodley) on the run after confronting Jeanine (Kate Winslet) the power-hungry leader of the Erudite faction who has uncovered a prized artefact that she believes can only be unlocked by a Divergent like Tris.
“When someone is literally tethered to the artefact they are subjected to potentially deadly virtual reality simulations which are closely monitored by Jeanine in the Erudite laboratory,” explains Animal Logic Executive Producer, Jason Bath. “Our main job was to design the functionality of that laboratory.”
“We knew that these controls would be holographic and the lab should feature a central console that showed what was going on inside the sim, and then surrounding that would be panels at which technicians would work,” says Animal Logic VFX Supervisor Paul Butterworth.
“But that was about the extent of the brief. So it was a great opportunity to work closely with Robert and Jim [director Robert Schwentke and VFX supervisor James Madigan] to design and construct a plausible way that the Erudite lab might work.
With such creative freedom the Animal Logic design team started with a huge amount of research, pulling together various elements of design, photography, previous work and original concepts – an inspiration pack – which were then taken to the director and whittled down with his input to key images.
“Robert didn’t want the holograms to be perfect. Any representations of actual environments, people or body parts were quite granular and had quite a bit of colour aberration to them,” says Paul.
At the same time we needed to define the purpose of each of the holographic monitors. The panels around the perimeter of the laboratory were designed for specific functionalities such as monitoring vital signs.
The central console however had multiple purposes: an activation sequence showing the connection of a new test subject; a view of a simulation in-progress where an avatar in a proxy environment is mirroring the movements of the test subject, and the decryption of the artefact and the broadcast of the message it contains. The underlying design of the console needed to be able to accommodate these different requirements and even transition between them.
“Considering that we came onto the project a little late and had to design, refine and execute over 150 shots, all of us are extremely pleased with the overall result. It’s some key scenes that really push the story beats on, and those are always a joy to work on,” said Paul.
Insurgent is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.