Digital Domain executives produced a short prototype of "Ender's Game" in early 2011, similar to what they had done for "Tron." The teaser, less than a minute long, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and gave OddLot an idea of what the film would look like and helped raise awareness for the project.
"When Digital Domain first formed in 1993 with James Cameron, the idea was to build a digital studio that would be self-sufficient and create films in a new way," Ulbrich said in the film's production notes. "We've approached this film that way. We were involved during the writing process, and the visual development was as important as the story development."
Key scenes for "Ender's Game" were filmed at a former NASA facility in New Orleans, which stood in for a deep-space military academy and a zero-gravity training room. But much of the movie was made on a computer screen.
Digital Domain oversaw the creation of the movie's 941 visual effects shots — 700 of which were created by Digital Domain artists in Venice and Vancouver, with 250 more delivered by six partner effects companies. In all, 430 people at Digital Domain and many more at partner companies worked on the movie over 27 months.
"Some of the scenes were a hundred times harder than what we've done in the past,'' said Matthew Butler, visual effects supervisor for the film and Digital Domain employee.
Working closely with director Gavin Hood in the early stages enabled Digital Domain's team to plan shots ahead of time and reduce the number of scenes that needed to be fixed after the fact.
"By getting involved in the early stages and planning with the director," Butler said, "you can design much more efficient ways of shooting."