Interstellar Flight Effect — Instagram Filter Review

Published on May 13, 2019 | Filter name: "Zodiac"

Filter creator: Instagram

Just landed after a long-delayed flight but I really wanted to share with you this filter and it's related to my flight. Actually, without flying, I wouldn't encounter this amazing effect and the amazing experience that I had.

In this review, we'll take a look at an Instagram filter called "Zodiac". This filter was made by Instagram itself. With this filter, people can position one of the 12 astrology zodiac signs on their face, either left or right cheek (changed by tapping). Alongside the zodiac sign, this IG filter renders a beautiful star background effect with a color change for each of the signs.

Instagram zodiac filter

One of the unique features of this filter is the way it segments the scene between the user's face and the background and positions the background so it appears around the user. The face and body areas are untouched by the filter, so the beautiful stars only appear in the background.

Interstellar Flight / Space Travel

It all looks nice. When I board the airplane, I immediately launched the filter because I wanted to see how it would look like when I point the rear cameras towards the sky area as we depart from Kansai airport, Osaka, Japan. The main difference here is that no face detection is being used, thus the background effect appears on the most of the frame, no segmentation.

Nebulas effect from sky clouds

The moment I point the rear camera of my OnePlus 6 phone towards the airplane's window, that was when the magical moment starts taking place. Suddenly, instead of just black night sky, the sky was filled with shiny stars. The clouds which I could barely see with my own eyes turned into stunning giant colorful nebulas (Interstellar dust and gas molecular clouds).

Suddenly, instead of flying an intercontinental flight, I was flying an interstellar flight. I was in space, on a spaceship, making my way through the galaxy. Even the reflections on the window produce some dazzling effects that further enhanced the beautifully rendered space scene, adding more colors and vibrancy to the visual experience.

I didn't even have to imagine too much, I felt it, I was flying in space. It felt even more real as the flight attendant was speaking in the background and people were speaking lightly in the background. It felt so real. At that moment, I felt how it would be like flying in space, taking a flight from, maybe, Earth to the Moon or Mars. Things like that can be experienced in virtual reality, but because I was experiencing it in AR and the view was from the window through the mobile phone lens, it felt so lifelike.

This is just an enhanced image of the same effect believe it or not. Nothing else was added. This image processing will take time to apply to a video though. I'll try to do that so you can really see where I am going with that.

space galactic Instagram filter effect

I was flying in space, and it wasn't a dream. I occasionally changed to different zodiac signs as each one produces a slightly different effect and colored the nebulas, stars, and sky in different colors. Some of the color filters enhanced the reflections of the window and the clouds, others less.

This type of augmented reality experience was surreal. I remember trying out something a bit similar using Google's Bing Bang AR experience for Android and iOS. In that experience, I was surrounded by stars and learn about important events and evolution of the universe. This app was brought to us by CERN and Google Arts & Culture.

That being said, testing this Zodiac IG filter during the flight helped create the right atmosphere and produces a much more profounding effect that leads to very strong immersion. I never felt anything like it in augmented reality before. Usually, when you want to experience something similar, you go to a Planetarium. Still, the fact that I was an actual flight, hearing the plane's engine roaring, feeling the vibration, knowing that I am on an actual plane flying—made a huge difference. I didn't need to imagine I was flying, because I actually was.

The cool thing is that the clouds in the sky, which I couldn't even see with my bare eyes, were picked up by the camera and the filter enhanced their appearance, suddenly I could see them but they didn't look like clouds, they look like beautiful giant nebulas.

The star effect appears only at the middle and top parts of the screen, so the bottom part appears without stars. Still, it was perfect for the time of departure and it still looks amazing as the stars appear to be in the horizon and upwards.

Even images that I have shown here can't describe how magical that experience was, so I made a video of it. I actually missed a few other scenes as I saved locally only the first videos by mistake. Nonetheless, there is still enough footage to showcase the magic in its full glory and how magical it was. Still, being on that actual plane, feeling the vibration and roaring sound of the engine made that moment feel surreal and unique.

Check out the video below. I will try later to upload it with better brightness and saturation which increase the detailed view of the stars and clouds and will enhance the viewing experience. Update: check the enhanced video version of the video here.

I remembering seeing the long-exposure pictures of photographs are taking, showing beautiful sky views with thousands of bright stars. I remember even seeing some showing part of the milky way and with northern lights. What I am saying is that we can produce these type of sights anywhere we go using AR filters. Create those amazing sights like rainbows, sunsets, etc—without actually having those in reality, but virtually augmenting them.

Interstellar Sightseeing Mixed Reality Experience

I didn't expect this to be so impactful. Maybe thinking about it, I knew this effect will look great if I use it with the rear camera while on the flight, but I didn't expect it to be so awe-inspiring and surreal the way it felt when I actually used it. When you come to think about it, it would be amazing having these type of Instagram filter that can be designed for that exact purpose, enhance the actual flight.

Imagine using AR glasses ina flight but instead of seeing the sky and clouds as you normally would, it turns the flight, like in this case, into an intergalactic or interstellar flight. If I was to develop such a filter, I would add some spaceships flying by, some giant stars in the background, falling stars in the distance, beautiful music and turn this into a beautiful interstellar flight sightseeing experience in augmented reality.

Therapeutic Care for people with Flying Anxiety

If I was a creative director in an airline company, I would suggest them to do just that. Make an augmented reality app for mobile and in the future for AR glasses that will give this type of experience. This can also be used as a therapeutic solution for people with flying anxieties. Of course, we aren't limited to making that experience appear like we are flying in space. We can make it so it appears like we are in the buss just driving around the city.

When I tried this filter in the plane, I felt the effect. I didn't even care about anything else around me, I was just gazing at the galaxy and awed its beauty. Suddenly the sounds of the people around and the engine started fading out, I was in a dream-like experience. This is why I feel that such an experience can help deal with a fear of flying. The disconnection from reality is something that I felt. My mind was so busy interpolating the surreal scene in front of me, that I was less busy in thinking about troubling things in the real world. It's like more part of my mind was busy analyzing the scene and all the new things in it that it had less room for the other things. I am not a professional to analyze that feeling, I can only share what I felt—It was relaxing like nothing else I experienced before. I didn't even have music, and I think with music it would be even more exciting and impactful.


Sometimes you start experimenting with different augmented reality filters and you have no idea what you are going to experience. As I mentioned in my previous reviews, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to experience. I like trying out different filters and become digitally creative with them and realize some potentials that are outside of the original scope of the experience itself. Things that can be further utilized in other types of augmented reality (AR) experience with other benefits than the ones that the developer intended for us to experience in the first place.

The Zodiac Instagram filter turned the departure and the beginning of my flight to Paris so much more fun and immersive. I was also lucky that the flight happened at night time so I would creatively produce this type of interstellar flight effect using this filter. I can't forget this moment, the effect it had on my still remains strong as I am writing these lines. I really felt like I came back from the interstellar flight. This is why I felt the urge to share this moment the second I landed and when the emotional effect on me was in its strongest pick.

If you have a planned flight, I highly recommend trying "Zodiac" filter out, so you can really feel what I felt. Usually, I use some kind of 3D models to put in the sky and it looks cool, but this one was a much more unique and immersive experience that will stay with me for a long time.

I also hope that this review inspired developers to create unique immersive experiences. If you enjoy my filter reviews, please don't forget to share them. This is the fuel this website needs and it motivates me and helps me to continue being digitally creative and spread the word of how amazing AR and Instagram filters are for both creators, developers, and its users—Thanks!

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Interstellar Flight Effect