Inside Erudite: Testing Tris
The third large build of the production was the Erudite headquarters (which
included Jeanine's laboratory, a control room, holding cells and hallways), and
it was constructed in the entirety of Stage 10 at Screen Gems Studios in
The lab was the most complicated set to build, according to construction
coordinator, Greg Callas, in part because it has no straight lines. "The walls
and ceiling are all curved and whenever you come to a corner, there are often
compound angles," says Callas. "My crew drilled 10,000 holes in the walls for
the tubes and each of the drill angles had to be perfect."
"Erudite's main lab can almost be described as a fishbowl but in fact it's a
giant 10,000-square-foot set with bulletproof glass and 16 projectors creating a
lighting environment," says Waldman. "As an audience member, you'll want to
buckle in and get ready to enjoy really cool stuff that you haven't seen
One of the storytelling hurdles the filmmakers had to overcome in the lab is
the change in point of view from Tris in the SIM and Jeanine watching Tris
perform in the SIM, says Hammond. "We wanted to come up with a way that you
could see the physical externalization of the SIM in the actual lab space."
Filmmakers used a combination of practical effects on set and visual effects
in post to create black tentacles by which Divergent test subjects were
suspended midair in the glass room. "ris floats from the tentacles, thus being
able to show her body movements that match what's happening in the SIM,"
Hammond adds, "We filled the main lab with almost 10,000 high-tech-feeling
glass tubes that shift in color and intensity. A series of projectors light up
the back of the tubes to show perspective changes. We were able to undulate the
surface and actually show an evolution as Tris was completing the SIMs. The room
changed with Tris' emotions inside the SIM. For example, if she was in distress
the room could echo that."
Technicians outside the glass enclosure also monitored the Divergent in the
SIMs with hologram work stations, which were added in post-production. "We tried
to do something where we almost felt the lab was inside of a computer, since for
much of it we're inside Tris' head," says Hook. "We married those three
layers-the tentacles, the lighted walls and the holograms-to make the concept
The key prop in Jeanine's lab was invented as a storytelling device, creating
the film's cliffhanger. "The box was actually one of the trickier design
elements," says Hammond. "Jeanine's ultimate goal is to open the box, and she'll
stop at nothing to figure out what's inside."
"The design of the box went through many different incarnations. There were
lots of questions to answer in the design process," says Waldman. "When does it
light up? Does it have twinkly lights? Blue lights? Red lights? What is the
The objective, according to Wick, was to create an object that balanced the
sense of something ancient with the idea of a flourishing technological society.
"We ended up with the five-sided pentagonal solid with one of the five
factions represented on each of the sides," explains Hammond. "They did a
beautiful job with the gold paint; the tarnishing and aging has a bit of
iridescence. Our prop master Sean Mannion worked with artisans in Los Angeles on
the final version. From our 3-D print they made a mold, cast it in fiberglass
and resin, and then bolted all of the LEDs and light-up panels in place."
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