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Immersed in Movies: 'The Hunger Games' Futuristic Control Room

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood March 30, 2012 at 5:59PM

Without a doubt, the most fascinating design aspect of "The Hunger Games" is the futuristic control room, where the gamemakers not only keep tabs on all the Tributes but also stack the deck against Katniss whenever possible.
Hunger Games, Katniss tv screen

"Gary and I realized that there was an opportunity to use the control room to help tell the story [beyond the book] without having to describe and explain things," Duggal continues. "We were ahead of Katniss 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 gamemakers were in control and they could actually change any aspect of what was happening in the arena at any time [with fire balls or creature mutations]."

First, Duggal studied future EY and screen technologies and moved the hologram in a fresh direction by bringing it to the desktop. This allowed the gamekeepers to have complete manipulation and to visualize it in a cool way. "Gary wanted a dystopian/utopian society with roots in the Third Reich and the German World Trade Fair, but Gary was also 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," she adds.

To help Duggal achieve this, she took a chance on a young concept artist named Reid Sothen rather than going with, say, Ben Procter, who designed the holograms for "Tron Legacy" and "Avatar." Then she hired Hybride of Montreal to do the animation and VFX. Best known for Zack Snyder's "300," Hybride was acquired several years ago by Montreal game designer Ubisoft. Therefore, Hybride had the right game-like aesthetic for the control room. In fact, the control room is part of a virtual city tour of the Panem Capitol developed by Microsoft for Internet Explorer 9 (with some of the assets provided by Hybride).

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.