Many films set at night feature the shape of the moon rather prominently. Yet I can't really imagine that this is always the exact moon captured in the scene, be it because the timing and angle doesn't exactly fit, or the moon is unrealisitically large, or the scene can't be shot completely outdoors at all.

I thus wonder what techniques are actually used by films to add the shape of the moon into a scene.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because we are not a film production website. Questions about how to make films are outside our scope. – Catija Jun 29 '16 at 19:43
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    @cde that specifically is for an existing show's production not "how do I make my movie". – Catija Jun 29 '16 at 19:47
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    @cde I'm not sure I agree. I think this is done in industry with actual footage of the moon using expensive lenses and/or compositing. It seems like the asker of this question probably does not have access to the same kinds of resources that a professional, big-budget production would have. – Todd Wilcox Jun 29 '16 at 20:02
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    @cde I can only vote based on how a question is written. As written the question is off topic and I have voted to close. If the OP wants to edit with a specific example, great... but my vote stands. – Catija Jun 29 '16 at 20:07
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    @ToddWilcox the closest analogue we have is Video Production... my proposal for filmmaking didn't pass muster, unfortunately... It's quite possible that a more detailed, descriptive version of this question would be accepted there but I don't think that, as it stands, it's something that would be welcome as a migration. – Catija Jun 29 '16 at 20:56

There are four ways it is done:

  1. Plan your shoot around the moon phase you want.

  2. Shoot the moon you want separately and edit it in digitally to your shot videos. Composition.

  3. Completely CGI. The moon is simple, and any number of digital video editing suites or plug-ins can do it.

  4. Miniatures. The classic way. Some digital editing to make it nicer.

The 2009 movie Moon used the last method to make great practical and realistic effects.

Q: Your lunar exteriors are quite convincing. How much of that is a real set, and how much is CGI? 

A: It’s model miniatures. All the lunar exteriors were shot using that technique, which they used to do in the '70s and '80s. We had a soundstage in Shepperton Studio where we built a piece of lunar landscape, about 30 by 40 feet. We really made it look like the moon. We had these beautiful little miniature vehicles pulled across the landscape by fishing line and titanium wire. That’s basically the foundation of the visuals. We were able to expand upon it in post-production. We digitally created distance, star fields, lens flares and dirt being kicked up by the vehicles. The lens flares were a way of adding visual style to it , but it was also a way of camouflaging certain things. 


  • Some lens types will alter the size of the Moon. Typical consumer cameras, the lens type makes the Moon look tiny, others approximate our normal perceptual size of the moon (55mm?). – Yorik Jun 30 '16 at 15:10

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