Moon Knight VFX Boss Breaks Down Epic Star-Changing Scene
It's no secret that Moon Knight is Marvel's least connected property to date. Despite being rooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Oscar Isaac-led series largely stood by itself, with no cameos or nods to the studio's other properties. This afforded the filmmakers behind the series significant creative freedom, allowing them to pursue high concepts the franchise had yet to visit.
Case in point, Khonshu and the eponymous vigilante reverse the night sky thousands of years to match an ancient map. To do that, Moon Knight filmmakers visited with NASA to make sure the sky was as accurate as it could be for a show about an Egyptian moon god.
"One of the first things we did was we went to NASA, which has their fantastic array of information which is all publicly available, and one of the things that they have is a celestial map of all the stars and galaxies and almost four billion stars and they give you it as what we call lat-long maps, so that's an environment that you can look up in any direction," Wētā FX supervisor Martin Hill tells us.
He adds, "It's really part of the exploration. What we wanted to do is see what actually would happen, what looks cool when we do that, what we learn from it, and then how do we even make it cooler? So, there's no suggestion that what is in the final piece is physically accurate, but it's pretty well based in the physics and we actually got some extra pieces out of doing it correctly to make the shots more cool, and actually new shots came out of it which was really exciting."
Filmed against a blue screen, Hill says the scene uses three different motions to get the necessary effects, using a parallax method of to spin the stars in the background.
"It turns out there's this phenomenon called the analemma of the moon, and we found this photo of what we'd just created that someone had constructed," Hill continues. "You can't actually photograph it because half of the moons would be in daytime, because you're slightly out of phase with the dates. So, one of the things we did was apart from the phase of the moon, we completely ignored the sun, because otherwise it would be a strobing nightmare obviously."
At one point, they discussed doing a different yearly star chart per frame but it didn't fit within the allotted time for the scene. Because of that, the scene actually uses charts staggered thousands of years apart from each other.
"What we wanted to get was that zoetrope moment where it's not quite in phase and it's like an old school wagon wheeling of a car when you film it, it feels like the thing is going the wrong way and the right way and then it locks into place," the filmmaker concludes. "You go from this really fast, frenetic spinning, to everything locking and strobing and then locking and becoming calm and then the stars are gracefully drifting across the sky, or if there's extra glitchy stuff on top. And that was really fun to put together.
Moon Knight is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+."
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