Robert Stromberg, an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated visual effects designer, has been more or less confirmed to be working on the Game of Thrones pilot in the capacity of visual effects supervisor. This confirmation came via a series of Julia Frey (VFX producer) tweets, in which she mentioned she was sitting down for dinner with Robert in Belfast and responded to a question from Ran about whether he was working on Thrones by saying it would be an “extreme coincidence” for them to be in the same city together.
Winter Is Coming: Stromberg, most recently, was production designer on James Cameron’s Avatar and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Adding his experience and expertise to the project is another feather in the cap for the producers. So what does this mean for the direction of the show? Brude echoes my sentiments and sums it up quite nicely over at the Westeros forums.
Stromberg is a FX guy, he’s been doing FX work in various roles at the highest level since 1991 starting as a Matte Artist and moving on eventually to FX Supervisor and Designer. He has recently graduated to full blown Production Designer, though he has done so serving under two directors who are themselves first rate artists/designers: James Cameron and Tim Burton. Not only that, he is doing so on what are probably going to be these two directors’ most FX laden productions to date with Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Avatar, which I think has some sort of FX in probably 90% to 95% of the shots in the film, and much of the film being completely rendered and Alice looks from the photos seen so far to be largely FX throughout, too. Needless to say, it doesn’t get any bigger!
I’m certain this show will have far, far less SFX than these two movies, but if you are getting an FX guy with his pedigree to be your FX supervisor, I think it’s being done for a specific reason, and that is you plan to have rather a lot of FX, at least for a TV show. I’m guessing rendered backdrops and the like might be fairly common on this show and perhaps they do expect, come second season, to do a pretty large scale Siege of King’s Landing. If that’s the plan, this is the guy to get to do it.
UPDATE: In the comments Mauberly pointed us to an Irish Film and Television network article that states that Sean Bobbitt is the director of photography on the pilot. Bobbitt recently was nominated for an Emmy for his DP work on BBC’s Sense & Sensibility.