Game of Thrones Season 7 – VFX Breakdown

Client: HBO

Year: 2017

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Ever since season four, the team at Mackevision has been producing visual effects for Game of Thrones, receiving an Emmy  for their work in 2014. And for season seven of the award-winning US television epic, Mackevision’s artists not only created castles, water, and ships, but also breathed life into thousands of soldiers.

A team of 40 experienced international artists worked for six months, applying their magic to bring the world of Westeros to life for millions of fans. In all, Mackevision produced 116 visual effects shots for five episodes of season seven.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

In the very first episode of season seven, an 180-degree shot of Euron Greyjoy’s longship shows that simulating water is one of Mackevision’s strengths. The 36-second shot starts with a close-up of the prow with the bow waves running along its flanks. 

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

Then the camera slowly tracks along the starboard side, before the sequence ends with a breathtaking view of the Red Keep.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

As Tyrion and Jon Snow sail toward King’s Landing in episode seven, the play of light on the Red Keep heightens the mood of expectancy in the shot.

Crowd animation

Complex crowd animation is not generally used in television productions, but this is another area where Game of Thrones is setting new standards. In episode three, thousands of soldiers, digitally created by Mackevision, storm the stronghold of Casterly Rock.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

The Mackevision visual effects team developed a comprehensive and unique sequence of movements for each individual soldier. This complex individuality, which is almost 70 percent animated by hand using Autodesk Maya graphics software in combination with the Golaem Crowd plug-in, is what makes the scene look so realistic.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

Looming in the background, Casterly Rock was also completely computer-generated, modeled on an actual castle in Salzburg, Austria.

Meticulous attention was paid to every last detail of these scenes. To get a better understanding of the movements of the soldiers in action and animate them more realistically, it was not unheard-of for the artists to slip into some armor themselves.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

After Daenerys’ troops have taken Casterly Rock, Grey Worm, the commander of her troops, can only look on as Euron and the Iron Fleet destroy his ships.

The Mackevision team created a gigantic sea battle, complete with burning fleets of ships, flying cannonballs, and smoke and ashes filling the air.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

A lighthouse 200 meters tall towers over Oldtown, a city in the far southwest of Westeros. The tracking shot starts at the Hightower and ends in the narrow streets of Oldtown.

In the background is an entire city generated by computer. The shot was filmed during the day, but it actually played at night (day for night).

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

Ever since season four, the residence of the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms has been brought to life on screen by Mackevision. In season seven the Red Keep appears again in all its glory – and in higher resolution than ever before.

Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown
Game of Thrones VFX making-of Breakdown

When Tyrion and Davos reach the shore in King’s Landing in episode five, the city walls tower majestically over the head of the bay. The walls were fully computer-animated and seamlessly integrated into the real-world setting.

Mackevision is proud to have once again brought Westeros to life for millions of fans around the world, in keeping with our vision – to create reality.

 

Even more information:

Interview for CGSociety: http://www.cgsociety.org/news/article/3560/the-crowd-fx-of-game-of-thrones-with-mackevision

Interview for Autodesk: https://area.autodesk.com/customer-stories/mackevision-on-game-of-thrones-season-7

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