As far as training sequences go the Zero G battle chamber of Ender’s Game is one of the most visually sweeping and operatic locations in recent sci-fi. Was it done with wires? A large set? CGI? All of the above, as co-production designer Ben Proctor explains to Video & Filmmaker. By Drew Turney
As gruff commander Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) tells his young recruits, through the round gate off the austere staging area is a zero-gravity environment. The cavernous room contains obstacles or ‘stars’, enemies from the opposite team and – as the name suggests – no gravity, leaving recruits to float and propel themselves.
“The film used the set pieces we created very much as planned,” co-production designer Ben Proctor says. “The battle room is conceived as a 100m-wide sphere but we built smaller parts that could be digitally extended and connected. The gate itself, the staging area, the sort of dish that extends outside the gate – it’s all there for when Ender starts to play in Zero G and he’s hanging on to those handles for dear life. A big part of the frame in those shots – and certainly everything he was interacting with – was a camera-ready piece of scenery.”
Procter explains several ‘stars’ were built to simulate the pyramid-shaped obstacles scattered throughout the room, some for the actors to interact with which would be replaced digitally, and as photorealistic props that would appear in the film.
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