Inside 'The Mist'’s Jaw-Dropping Moth Metamorphosis
Ever since the fog from Hell rolled into Bridgeville, Maine, death has been brutal on The Mist but has happened relatively off screen—until Episode 3's “first in-your-face example of what is happening,” says Aladino V. Debert, Creative Director & Visual Effects Supervisor at Digital Domain, which worked on the Stephen King–inspired show. More like in your ear: After running out of the church to stop townie Nathalie (Frances Conroy) from falling prey to whatever is going on with the air, poor Mikhail (Steven Yaffee) gets a mist-infected moth lodged inside his ear and undergoes a fatal metamorphosis that could be the breakout scene of the TV season.
“It looks like there is a bug under his skin,” says Debert, who started by animating a writhing, insect-like shape beneath a digital scan of the actor’s tattooed back (the ink was designed by production and applied by makeup onto the actor), then layered the final results into the scene. “You can tell there is something sharp and limb-like underneath before it starts breaking through.”
Using a technique called rotoscoping, Debert also had to erase everything else in the scene around Yaffee and Conroy so he could add in the CGI wings that violently emerge from Mikhail’s shredded body, as well as the swarm of moths that burst out of his mouth. “There are two shots where the wings are fully out that we animated [to look like] they were trying to take off but were stuck in his back,” Debert says. “The logical conclusion is that whatever is in there will eventually come out and just leave…a corpse.”
The Mist, Thursdays, 10/9c, Spike