Screen UI Design

Ender’s Game

As always, it was rad to jam with the G-Creative team on a massive film-graphics project. This time, partnered with some elite design/animation majors: Ash Thorp, Navarro Parker, Paul Beaudry, Ben Meyers, Ryan Cashman and Allisdair Wilson. We output a small grip-load of design and animation of volumetric, holographic and glass displays that were placed everywhere in this very special movie adaptation.

Serious MAN-love to my bud, Platoon Leader Ash Thorp, for setting us up with a sick design tone and leading the design stylin’s. For numerous hero screens that needed story tellin love, I led my own mini design and animation squadron with Lt. Navarro Parker as my main man, again lending his super-sick C4d+AE design goodness to the movie universe. Great creative direction also came from Den Leader Gladys Tong (G-Creative) and Major General Matthew Butler (Digital Domain’s VFX Supervisor).

There’s a lot to this film that I hope to someday upload – but for now here’s a few tidbits of some hero screens I designed and animated for the film.

Ender’s Holo Tablet

A key story point throughout the film is Ender’s nifty holographic tablet where he engages in numerous games to test his skill and strategy. Ender’s a kid genius, so he loves tons of data. This is my dream iPad so I had fun with it. I mocked this little guy up in C4d and After Effects.


In the opening scene, Ender is competing against Stilson (Caleb J. Thaggard) with the tablets. This is how the government decides who is bad ass enough to be a candidate for Battle School. Look at that look in his eye – it’s ON!

Below are the tracked graphics over black from the scene as Stilson takes a hit and fires back.


This render test is tracked to Ender’s (Asa Butterfield) hand movements:

Stilson’s Formic Fighter is about to get CRUSHED!


By request, I designed a second gyro – because, well who doesn’t love gyros? I decided to make it focus on the complex asteroid calculations Ender is making to eventually win the game. Of course, Axial Tilt, Gravimetric Analysis and Mass Exatons become extremely important in this situation. “Simple rocket science.”



Battle Scoreboards

Many parts of the movie show how Major Anderson (Viola Davis) and Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) are musing over Ender’s progress with battle scoreboards so it was important that they were a tad well thought out in how they displayed their lucsious data.


Below are a few anatomy breakouts I made for the key decision makers to detail out how to each piece works. I took references from the excellent ‘Ender’s Game’ book (which I heavily digitally highlighted with notes) on how they monitored the kids and their playing and strategic abilities. If you’re into that kind of thing, click images to see them bigger. If you’re not into that kind of thing, scroll on! ^____^


The text in the ‘Play Analysis’ centralized point graph is actual actors in the movie + our names of course. If you have good eyes, you might be able to recognize a few.


Mess Hall Scoreboard

Throughout the film in the Mess Hall (that’s battle-school talk for lunch room), Ender is constantly reminded of the skilled teams he’s up against via a holographic scoreboard. Although this went through many design variations, the idea was always to have a holographic representation of the battle sphere in the middle, flanked by team logos and rankings on the side. My final design was a delicate dance of density and storytelling clarity.



Mazer Rackham’s Battle

As Mazer reveals to Ender some super secret strategies, there was, of course, all kinds of need for fast flying’ HUD and data graphics analyzing the swarm patterns of the Formics.



Final Battle

The epic final battle required the skills of many savvy animators and compositors. We had the good fortune of collaborating with the fine talents of Goldtooth Creative. With Ash and Paul, I created concept mockups of Ender’s command center and team’s battle station holographs.


Final compositing and animation done by the fine folk at Goldtooth Creative.


VFX supervisor Mathew Butler wanted the animation of the graphics to have consistency with what we had already established, so I was asked to create a few animation guides, including an animated library of animations and UI movements that artists could draw from as needed.