VFX Breakdown of Interstellar

Compared to previous Christopher Nolan films, Interstellar didn’t garner much interest amongst the movie-going audience. However, no one could deny the impact of the spectacular images. And this led to the Best Visual Effects Category award at the Oscars.

The film was appreciated for its depiction of space and related phenomena. What very few people know is that many of the space visuals, including the centerpiece black hole, are the most accurate depictions of such occurrences ever shown in a film. This post celebrates the outstanding visual effects depicted in this Oscar winning film.


Source: Interstellar Movie

From the very beginning, director Christopher Nolan & writer Jonathan Nolan wanted to explore real scientific possibilities when they sat down to script Interstellar. A black hole, by definition, is an area of the space-time continuum where gravity prevents anything from escaping, including light. The makers of the movie decided that they would understand the real science behind this natural phenomena before they brought it to screen. In order to do this, they hired visual effects company, Double Negative who recreated the black hole as it would appear in space. Kip Thorne, the executive producer of the movie, was brought in as the physics expert on the project.

In fact, Double Negative’s work will soon be shared with astrophysicists who, for the first time, will have actual models to study, thanks to the breakthrough rendering capabilities developed during the making of the movie. This new rendering capability, known as the Worm Renderer, calculated the relatively warped space around the black hole (called Gargantua), and ray traced all the light paths around it (as well as through and around the black hole).

As for CGI, no green screen was used during the making of Interstellar. Miniatures of the three spacecrafts (The Endurance, The Ranger, and The Lander) were used & over 150 miniature shots were developed by New Deal Studios in L.A. They were shot with real exposure ratios under realistic lighting conditions.


Source: Warner Bros. UK

The two alien planets – the water planet and the ice planet – were a mix. The ice planet was shot partly in Iceland and partly was an artificial surface made of marble sheets of ice from a combination of CG and matte paintings. With regards to the water planet, the VFX team created a series of 4,000-foot animated waves using basic deformers along with detailed simulation work on top.

All these went on to make Interstellar a visually extravagant journey on screen.

Did you like the film & wish to create similar effects? Learn all about making groundbreaking visual effects with MAAC’s VFX career course .


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