In the 2013 military science fiction movie ‘Ender’s Game’ hero Andrew “Ender” Wiggin fights against an alien race called the Formics, in huge complex battles. But, before those battles, earlier on in the movie, Ender competes against his fellow students while training. These battles were well-orchestrated scenes, almost like dances but in zero gravity that took a lot of work to pull off. In order to achieve the effect of zero gravity, director Gavin Hood shot the actors on wires, in front of a green screen backdrop and then digitally replaced their bodies in post-production.
But why replace their bodies? Well, the reason for this is due to the fact that when using wire rigs to support the actor, their weight will always be resting on the wires and therefore they can only pivot around those points.
And even with more complex wire rings that pivot around the waist of the actor, there will always be an axis that is still fixed to whatever is connecting their weight to the support.
So when the actor moves to a position that changes their axis, the pivot point would also need to change. Thanks to CGI, the guys over at Digital Domain were able to digitally replace their bodies in order to correct this issue and have the bodies move without any restraints, giving them the ability to move how they would do in a weightless environment.
But then why not just replace their faces too? Well aside from a few shots that were completely CGI, it was far cheaper and remained true to the actor’s performances to use their real faces, mapped onto computer-generated bodies.
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