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SYFY WIRE WandaVision

How retro televisions cleverly inspired one of WandaVision’s biggest visual effects

By Josh Weiss

Early 20th century television didn't just inspire WandaVision's narrative — it also inspired the VFX crew. In the first episode of Marvel Studios' Assembled  (streaming on Disney+ today), the show's VFX supervisor, Tara DeMarco, pulls back the curtain on the powerful Hex that keeps Westview under the control of Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen).

“We knew that the Hex had to be a boundary that kept the townspeople in, but was mysterious to the people on the outside," DeMarco explains in the 58-minute making-of documentary about the MCU's first-ever television series, which also happens to be the launch of Phase 4. "We decided early [on] that it would be more mysterious if it was an invisible Hex. And so, it helped build tension and we got to make it look quite cool."

Wanting to lean into the classic sitcom element that defines most of the story, DeMarco and her team decided to bring the Hex to life via "the language of television." They went the extra mile and looked at the distortions you'd get from TV screens in the 1950s and '60s — two decades that directly inspired the first two episodes WandaVision, which tips its fedora to retro programs like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewtiched.

"We studied how magnets were drawn on old CRTV televisions and the magnetization you would get across the screen; the pixelization you would get when you zoomed way into an old TV; the cathodic lines or those skinny lines that you would see on an NTSC, [the] old square TVs," she continues. "We went to photography and found our favorite images for what this boundary could be using the language of television ... It's executing a vision to the standard that Wanda would have wanted."

All nine episodes of WandaVision are now available to stream on Disney+. The next MCU show — The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — premieres on the service next Friday, March 19.