Season two going to require more complex CGI
By Winter Is Coming on in Production.

Westeros.org has an excellent interview published with Game of Thrones VFX producer Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor of BlueBolt. She goes into detail about some of the work they did on season one and some of the challenges of doing CGI work for a TV show. But most interesting to me was her stating that BlueBolt will not be returning for season two and the reason why. Here is the quote:

Will BlueBolt be the lead VFX vendor in the second season? If so, has any preparatory work already started given that cameras are due to roll in late July?

Sadly not. As BlueBolt is a small new VFX house, tackling CG creatures with fur, plus CG fire and water would be too much of a stretch. Although we have all done this many times as individuals at previous companies, BlueBolt’s pipeline and development would struggle to do this in the short amount of time needed for the second series.

Winter Is Coming: CG creatures with fur, huh? Sounds like some direwolf action to me. And CG fire and water? Sounds like the Blackwater won’t be getting the Green Fork treatment. Sad to see BlueBolt go, as they did some great work on season one. The dragons looked phenomenal. But I’m really excited to see what VFX house they bring in now to tackle the increased CGI work for season two.


118 Comments

  1. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Please HBO, give us some proper bad ass wolves in season 2, not dogs!

  2. Cajunman
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    In D&D we trust

  3. Max from Russia
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    COOL! This is really amazing ! I can’t wait !

  4. Michelle
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    CG wolves, dragons and wildfire are not cheap, no matter who does it. What do they sacrifice? The House of the Undying? I was never crazy about that in the book, so if it goes or gets re-imagined I’d be OK with that.

  5. Max from Russia
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    What about the cast of the second season ?

  6. Caedes
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Bluebolt set avery high bar with magnificent landscapes (gotta love those twins!) and beyond perfect dragons. Let’s hope we’ll keep such quality work.

  7. Spork
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I guess someone else will be doing the opening credits too? I imagine they’ll need to keep adjusting them as the story moves along.

  8. uberstellar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    This makes me a little sad, actually. They did amazing work with apparently a small team and I’m sure limited budget. Worried that a bigger company would charge more and we won’t get the same quality.

  9. dizzy_34
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    As long as they don’t use the folks who do the CGI on TrueBlood. That stuff is pretty wonky.

  10. Brad
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    As a curtain call for BlueBolt, I say great job to all involved! I thought the overall look of the show improved alot whenever CGI was used, for example to put the spires of the Red Keep in the background as Ned is walking towards the tourney grounds. There was also a very notable climbing view of the wall towards season’s end that was quite impressive. And of course the dragons were truly magnificent!

    Thanks to Lucy and BlueBolt! Wishing you every success on upcoming ventures.

    Meanwhile, it is exciting to hear that CGI is going to be more involved for season 2..

  11. Blood
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    It says they wont be the lead VFX vendor, I don’t think that means they wont be involved. Not really clear either way.

  12. James Brookes
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    “Not returning as lead” does not necessarily equal “not returning at all”. I would hope and expect that BB still does the 2 1/2 D landscape stuff as they did an amazing job of it. It wouldn’t make sense for someone else to handle new Winterfell shots, for example, when they already have the stuff built and ready to go from the first time around. CGI wolves and likely dragons as well as more complicated effects shots (fire and water yeah!) will obviously be handled by larger more established group.

  13. Bobby Brady
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Why don’t they just use BlueBolt for the dragons and the new one for the direwolves? Money? George could probably pay for BB with his pocket money.

  14. JJ the Crow
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    This is great news!!! No offense to BlueBolt (they did a great job), but this should prove that HBO has made a big commitment to the quality of this show. Outgrowing this small company should bode will for the show and I can’t wait for next season.

  15. Steel_Wind
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I find the admission that the extra effects would be beyond their production pieline in terms of timely delivery of finished scenes to be both refreshing and reassuring.

    I would also add that doing environmental terrain models are less involved in many respects than doing organic creature modeling and animation. I expect that Blue-Bolt’s strengths lay in environmenal shots and not on the creature side — where the artistic considerations are different and the render farms necessary to do the work is also increased significantly. Rendering fur on a per frame basis as it moves and interacts with the ambient lighting in the scene is far more processor intensive than doing a relatively static shot like Winterfell or the Twins. So yes, the production pipeline matters a lot in terms of being able to get all the shots for an episode complete, delivered and edited into the final product on a timely basis.

    In order for these issues to have been determined at this early stage, there has clearly been a fair bit of specifics in terms of VFX orders and storyboarding already done by D&D. High-level discussions about what is possible and what isn’t have clearly already been held. You don’t announce you aren’t on season #2 on a lark. That’s their core business, after all.

    All of this sounds good to me and indicates that these issues have received a great deal of attention from HBO and D&D at this early stage. So that’s a definite plus.

  16. Winter Is Coming
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Blood: It says they wont be the lead VFX vendor, I don’t think that means they wont be involved. Not really clear either way.

    Yeah, it’s not definitive. But I took it to mean they won’t be involved at any level simply because if they were she probably would have said so.

  17. Shinyteapot
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    It’s a shame, I think the CGI has been great. But understandable if they can’t do it in time. I hope this doesn’t mean changes to the established things using CGI though- the credits, buildings/backgrounds and dragons are all great and need to keep the look they have!

  18. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    JJ the Crow,

    Agreed. I couldn’t be happier with the work Blue bolt did, but we can take this as sign that HBO is committed to GoT and knows that this show could be the zeitgeist of 2010-2020, and believes the truth, that it is already is a HUGE cult hit.

  19. Chris77
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Get Weta on board, they could sure spare some of the hobbitfolk… And they have the knowledge to do do big battles and CGI creatures and soon dragons as well… At least get their MASSIVE software for Blackwater…

  20. LanLanLurker
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    What about all those furry things north of the wall? Mammoths and Giants. Or is that Season 3? I forget.

  21. Dave Brownell
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I was thinking this exact same thing last night as i was looking at my desktop background (its dany with Drogon perched on her shoulder screeching). The battle being cut was a big downer for this season, and i believe they “learned their lesson” again (remember Rome? lol).

  22. userj
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I’m not sure they are saying they are totally gone for Season 2, just that they won’t be doing the direwolves or the battle of blackwater. Perhaps they will still do the dragons since they already have most of the legwork complete on them.

  23. DeathToLannisters!
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    BlueBolt did an excellent job – a shame they couldn’t cope with the demands for the next series. I have confidence that the right team will be found though.

  24. darksofa
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    LanLanLurker:
    What about all those furry things north of the wall? Mammoths and Giants. Or is that Season 3? I forget.

    Technically, it’s both. In Season 2, no one encounters them directly but Jon has a warg dream through Ghost, who’s looking down on the assembled wildlings. He sees mammoths and giants and all the rest, before being attacked by the warg/eagle.

  25. kerning
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I completely trust in the showrunners’ ability to find an alternate, suitable VFX studio. However, it’s too bad about BlueBolt–they’ve pulled off, IMO, the best TV visual effects I’ve seen in years. The scenery has been stunning, and I couldn’t ask for more in the dragons. Amazing job!

  26. csp
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    House of the Undying was pretty important foreshadowing in my opinion.

  27. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Michelle,

    There is much love for the House of the Undying, I’m surprised that no one is yelling at you yet. It’s early I guess. :)

    I agree with you though. While that scene conveys a lot of interesting and important information, I don’t think that it’s pulled off very well in the book. I can’t quite articulate why, but something about it just doesn’t work for me. I doubt they will cut it from the show though, it seems too important to not get some sort of on-screen interpretation.

    I’d be interested to see how D&D do it. Maybe Dany can talk about what happened after the fact while masturbating with a servant girl.

  28. Adam Dean
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    If the House of the Undying is cut out, what will Dany do in Season 2 of importance? It’s been a while since I’ve read CoK, but that’s the only thing that really stands out (other than meeting White Beard near the end).

  29. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Maybe the house of the Undying would be the perfect opportunity to show R+L=J. Sean bean would gladly shoot one or two scenes I would think. (ToJ)

  30. Iker Gernika
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Cajunman:
    In D&D we trust

    It´s clear to me that if the budget allows it, at least, they will try.
    From many interviews with the actors we know that shooting with the “dogs” was a nightmare so they have to use CGI if they want to show us the Direwolves properly.

    Why not ask Weta about it? They have a lot of experience with massive battles and dogs, the dogs in The Two Towers were awful, but at least they know how not to do it and that was near 10 years ago, enough time to do it better and cheaper.

  31. koinosuke
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    House of the Undying is perhaps the best scene in book two, and is really the only major thing Dany does all book. Having it be cut would be a lot more disappointing than even the lack of ToJ in season 1, imo. Really hope the scene gets done, and done well, as it could be an incredibly creepy and fantastic scene to see.

  32. Lina
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    The dragons were some of the best CGI ever aired on television, so BlueBolt deserves nothing but praise for their work in Season 1.

    I’m interested to see what happens going forward. Hopefully/Expectedly, whichever vendor picks up the CGI work doesn’t change the dragons. Their design was so damn perfect, and gorgeous, that I don’t want to see any other rendition! For the direwolves, they’ll have to find a transition from real animal to computer graphics, and I guess you can use the direwolves’ growth as age. But I also think CGI may be used beyond the Wall. Mammoths, giants, random beasts…all that sort of stuff would necessitate CGI.

    And how will they do HOTU? I hope it’s a combination of creepy lighting, good CGI and at least one actual actor- to portray the apparition of Rhaegar – and hopefully more to be the Undying themselves. SEASON 2, this is so exciting!

  33. Matt Kelly
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    excited to see some green fire burning black water bay and the chain blocking stannis’ ships!

    gonna pop when its actually on screen :)

  34. kerning
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I would love to see House of the Undying–but I wonder–in a visual medium, is it too much of a giveaway to certain surprises? The non-reading TV audience has proven to have very keen eyes, and lots of time to debate and throw around theories week to week.

    I speak of course of the House spoiling the Red Wedding. In text, the imagery of what Dany sees was appropriately cryptic and dream-like and vague, enough so many did not figure out the symbolism or the foreshadowing. I was gobsmacked re-reading Clash realizing at last what the dead king with a wolf sewn on its head, at a feast surrounded by dead guests alluded to. Couldn’t believe I missed it.

    On TV…it could be too much a giveaway. Not too many were super surprised at the hatching dragons, they were shown so significantly throughout…

  35. SA_Avenger
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I think they did a very good job with season 1 (except the eyrie) a bit sad they are not returning. Hopefully the new team will be as serious and dedicated into making believable fx

  36. KG
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    kerning,

    I was thinking the very same thing.

  37. Darkenmal
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    No pressure, HBO.

  38. Balerion
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    The creatures behind the Wall, the Blackwater battle, lots of CGI needed in season two. And it has to be kickass!!

  39. koinosuke
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    kerning:
    I would love to see House of the Undying–but I wonder–in a visual medium, is it too much of a giveaway to certain surprises? The non-reading TV audience has proven to have very keen eyes, and lots of time to debate and throw around theories week to week.

    I speak of course of the House spoiling the Red Wedding. In text, the imagery of what Dany sees was appropriately cryptic and dream-like and vague, enough so many did not figure out the symbolism or the foreshadowing. I was gobsmacked re-reading Clash realizing at last what the dead king with a wolf sewn on its head, at a feast surrounded by dead guests alluded to. Couldn’t believe I missed it.

    On TV…it could be too much a giveaway. Not too many were super surprised at the hatching dragons, they were shown so significantly throughout…

    Yeah, I was thinking about the same issue. Might have to get rid of that part of the scene, or at least put it in really dark lighting or something to make the who and what of it vague. It’s just so damn good as secret foreshadowing, though. The rest of the parts of HOTU aren’t problematic, though, and it would just be so cool to see Raegar with baby Aegon.

  40. sjwenings
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m dreading the Battlegate of season 2 already. I have settled with the fact that it’s probably not going to be particularly impressive. I’m hoping for “good”. I sure do not dare hope for “awesome!” like the kids will demand.

  41. Steel_Wind
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the “House of the Undying” and the “only thing which Dany has to do” in Season 2.

    I’m not disagreeing with this observation of Daenerys’ arc in ACoK, as written. However, it is entirely possible that D&D may choose to move forward Daenerys’ recruitment of the Unsullied from season 3 to season 2 (and they might not). I don’t think that they are going to leave Arstan absent from the tale for an entire year, either.

    Just pointing out that the underlying assumptions of Daenerys’ tale in Season 2 may prove to be incorrect, that’s all.

  42. Tauntaun13
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I think they could easily skip the Red Wedding vision. It’s just a tease from George for the very attentive and imaginative readers. Once the event happens, there isn’t really any mystery to it, in contrast to other events that have been foreshadowed but we’re still not 100% sure about what happened (Balon’s death for example). They’ll probably just focus to the visions that directly concern Daenerys or we might just get the “3 times you shall…” prophecies.

  43. Starkgirl
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I’d be fine with them ditching the House of the Undying and just moving up Dany’s story arc, having her procure the Unsullied in season 2. That said, it’d be great if they are able to pull it off.

    I really loved BlueBolt’s work, so I hope things like the amazing introduction and their dragons will continued to be used and not rendered again by this new company and look noticeably different.

  44. Ser Skwisgaard
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Spork:
    I guess someone else will be doing the opening credits too?I imagine they’ll need to keep adjusting them as the story moves along.

    Bluebolt didn’t do the opening titles. A number of different agencies collaborated to create that – a52, Elastic & Rock Paper Scissors, if I remember correctly.

  45. Kingthlayer
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Friggin’ a, did the dogs seem so hard to work with that they aren’t even going to TRY to use real dragons…sheesh

  46. metalgoddessamb
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure we’re going to lose The House Of The Undying. All that stuff is prophecy and foreshadowing of a deeper mystery and an “understory”, and we’ve really had none of that in season one. I don’t think all those subtle clues about princes who were promised and certain people’s parentage can fit into the story that David & Dan are telling, otherwise, they would have already given us the clues from the first book, and they haven’t.

  47. sjwenings
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    metalgoddessamb,

    Sadly, i think you might be right. If so, it’s a real shame, but i can (barely) live with it.

  48. SockMonkeh
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    A) The CGI in season one was amazing, so good job to Bluebolt.

    B) It’s good to know they are ramping up the CGI budget for season 2 and that the demands include fur, fire, and water.

  49. Caedes
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    koinosuke,

    Yes, it’s a bit of a problem translating some of the HotU stuff to a visual medium.

    The wolf-headed dead king may be too obvious, while the blue rose on an ice wall would be confusing, as there’ve been no mention to any blue flower in the show, not to say its relation to Lyanna Stark.
    Also, if they show a white-haired guy cuddling a little baby, I’m sure most people wouldn’t know who he is for sure, or assume it’s Rhaegar playing with… baby Jon!! :-)

    As for the Dany storyline: I’ve just begun my 5th aSoS re-read, in order to get to DwD with an update :-), and Arstan is already with Dany by the beginning of the book. But I agree that putting some of the aSoS stuff into season 2 would be a good move. In fact, the change on Dany’s destination with the boats at the beginning of the book it’s a little annoying. I think you can’t end a season telling the audience “Dany’s headed to Pentos and from there, invasion time!” and then just turn around and go to slaver’s bay for at least two seasons.

  50. Caedes
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    metalgoddessamb,

    For all us believers in R+L=J, that is a MAJOR plot point. I think D&D just choose not to overwhelm the audience for the first season with extra background, backstory and foreshadowing. May be the PwwP and Azor Ahai will be lost in the books-show translation, but I’m quite sure Jon’s parentage will be there, somewhere.

    Do we know if the Reeds will be cast? Will they merge them into one?

  51. Alwyn Joseph
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Dave Brownell,

    I’am glad they cut the battle, it would’ve cost too much and still looked shit.
    + Would also screw up the budget for other scenes that were done so well on the show.

    EDIT: Excellent interview, love the frank nature and open answers :-)

  52. Alan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Steel_Wind:
    I find the admission that the extra effects would be beyond their production pieline in terms of timely delivery of finished scenes to be both refreshing and reassuring.

    At minimum, their commentary tells us that at least the initial plan is to do both a) Direwolves in CGI in some aspect and b) more mass crowd effects.

    I think (a) may unfortunately be up for debate, as D&D mentioned the chance of doing it with camera tricks and perspective. At the end of the day, I’m not sure there’s a good, cost-effective way to do it.

    Ep 9, on the other hand, seems eminently feasible to do in a variety of ways and it sounds like they are planning for both wide CGI and the expected close-up fighting.

  53. dizzy_34
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m betting on House of the Undying being included. Not only that but the Robb Stark premonition as well. That part is just too good to not include. I’m sure that they can edit it to make it hard to even tell what exactly it is that the audience is seeing. The horror aspect alone to that part is worth them doing it.

  54. Shinyteapot
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    If they do HOTU, I think they need to include the Red Wedding vision. Having that there means that, after events later in the series, we know there’s a good chance that those things will be true. Contrast to the Stallion who mounts the World prophecy, which didn’t work out. Without that item, we lose the confirmation that there’s more to it all than random imaginings.

    Perhaps, to save budget and to keep it vague, rather than seeing things we just hear Dany describe what she sees? While some of it would be cool to see, other things would be far too spoilery to be visual. Perhaps a combination of the two?

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of Dany’s story from ASOS is moved forward too, but HOTU is a big deal in ACOK for her.

    Edit to add: as regards the direwolves, if they are to get as big as the mother of course they will need some amount of CGI, but unless the tech has moved on significantly, the less the better. I have yet to see any remotely convincing CGI furry animals. Puppets with CGI enhancement where needed/ CGI distance shots might be better?

  55. Alan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    On Dany’s storyline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either made-up plot or plot moved forward from Book 3.

    On the House of the Undying, the screenwriter in me would probably go low-tech. Focus on creepy warlocks in the last room, and have them verbally communicate the prophecies. This keeps them “unlocked” unlike visuals and non-specific, cutting any ones too obvious. It cuts a massive amount of special effects. And all you have to do is have the “attack” and have Drogon’s response.

    I know, it’s not what you’d want, but it’d save cash, get the point across, be creepy and tense, keep the climactic elements and not be too spoilery. Win.

  56. Stephen Berry
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Re: Dany’s 2nd season story line– if you did cut the House of the Undying, you could probably move more quickly into the Unsullied. You could also just as easily introduce Arstan in a different place, such as Astapor, if you cut the House of the Undying. No major problems moving that around, hypothetically. Mostly, I’m thinking what are they gonna do, if they really DO keep it to 1 season a book. And it’s changes like these that might allow them to condense some plot lines, while keeping things moving.

    Also, as a side note- Were me and my wife the only ones that didn’t really miss the Green Fork? I thought Tyrion getting knocked out was outrageously funny and very true to the sort of ridiculous things that happen to his character. Of course, I love reading about the Green Fork in the book, and I would be dissapointed if Blackwater got the same treatment, but still, in the context of Season 1– I thought their take on it was fine. Sure, it was different than the book, but as TV viewing goes, it didn’t think the change missed a beat. We laughed and laughed. Had to press pause and rewind. :)

  57. Steel_Wind
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    In terms of budgeting, there is a fundamental difference between the CGI Dire Wolves and CGI Dragons.

    Assuming the dire wolves are “freakishly large”, my guess is that they will create one wolf model of large size and then “reskin it” to represent whatever dire wolf they need (practically speaking, one Ghost model and a few variant timber wolf coloring to represent Summer et al). Point being, the kickass model will be done only once and retextured for a few other uses after minor rescaling. After that, animating it and rendering it within the required scenes will be on an as needed basis — but the underlying creature model will be complete.

    That modeling is a significant part of the cost of such effects.

    With the dragons, the problem with them is that as they grow, you just can’t simply scale the model up in size and call it done. You can do that a little bit, but for the most part, the Dragon CGI needs to be done and then redone, season to season (at a minimum) — and maybe even within the same season, depending on the timing of the CGI shots in the episodes.

    My point: from a budgetary aspect, CGI wolves are far cheaper to do than CGI dragons. I’m sure that D&D will want to use “real wolves” for as long as they can, so that when they finally DO move to using a CGI wolf, it will be of a dire wolf at its final adult size. That way, they won’t pay for additional wolf models after that. When the dire wolf model is complete, that base model will be “done” and will not be significantly changed throughout the balance of the series.

    You just can’t take that approach with the dragons as their growth is a critically important aspect of the dragons over the course of the series. CGI Dragons are a budgetary hit that keeps on hitting as the episodes and seasons march on, as it were. We’ll see less of them as a result — and most “growth” will occur between seasons, I expect.

    I’m implying a third and fourth season here, of course, but hey — I’m convinced at this point that ASoS is going to happen, too!

  58. Tre Svatek
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who DOESN’T want CGI direwolves? I was plenty happy with what we had in season 1, and count me in the small group that doesn’t really see the importance of the direwolves other than Lady, which is already done with, and maaaaaaybe Summer, but that can easily be achieved without CGI-direwolf-action.

    Meh, hopefully the showrunners are doing what they think looks best and will work properly, not what fans are clamoring for.

    As for the house of the undying, I think that has to be included, it was pretty important to Dany’s storyline, and in the end, I don’t think that has to be very CG heavy either. Lots of things can be done with practical effects, one just has to use perspective and a little thinking outside of the box.

  59. Stephen Berry
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Eh, I was never one to have a heart attack over the direwolves in the first season- neither the lack of them onscreen, nor their being dogs. I preferred what I got compared to crappy CGI direwolves everywhere, personally. Or, even worse, a very expensive show that got cancelled.

    Do I like reading about them? Sure, they’re fun, but their relationships to the kids and the warging screams “fantasy cliche”, (although a well-done one by Martin) and the show is clearly going for a period piece style drama with undertones of fantasy. If we could have had them be giants, it would have been nice. But it was a compromise I was willing to take in stride as a viewer.

  60. koinosuke
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    As much I can understand “toning down” certain aspects of the HOTU for monetary and logistical reasons, but I don’t think they’ll remove it completely. Not just because it’s Dany’s biggest scene in book 2, but because as we know Xaro Xoan Daxos is being cast we also know the series will be going to Qarth. And even though other things of importance happen there, The House of the Undying is really what made Dany going to Qarth important. It’ll be there in some form; plus, Undead souls seated around a beating hear in a eerie blue-lit room, and the crackle of flame as the heart ignites…the imagery is too damn good to lose.

  61. Blueberry2
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I would be very disappointed if they didn’t at least attempt the House of the Undying, one of the cooler scenes in the series imo.

  62. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Tre Svatek: I was plenty happy with what we had in season 1, and count me in the small group that doesn’t really see the importance of the direwolves other than Lady, which is already done with, and maaaaaaybe Summer,

    I wish TSK could reply to this, but here is my piece. There are very few fantastical elements in the series at all, especially in GoT. The direwolves are one of them, and maybe the most important as they develop the bond reader has with the Starks. Imagine if Rob had an amazing looking savage beast that hasn’t been seen for 1000s of years instead of a dog, the audience would love him so much more. In the books it was clear that people stopped and stared in fear and awe whenever they saw the wolves. You just can’t convey that whatsoever with dogs. If they make fierce looking CGI wolves, the story becomes more bad ass, the character of Jon, Bran and Rob become much more bad ass, and the show itself becomes super bad ass.

  63. metalgoddessamb
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Caedes,

    I am a strong believer in that theory. and the ToJ scene is the first clue that we didn’t get in the show. I hope they include HOTU, but I think it’s going to be a BIG challenge on how to present it visually, without being confusing to the audience, especially since they left out the first few clues that are connected to it from season 1.

    I hope they cast both Reeds. They are important to Bran’s underlying story, which we’ve also not seen much of.

    think about all the dreams, flashbacks, prophecies and stuff of that ilk we haven’t seen on the show. It seems we’re getting the larger “main” story, and not the subtle “understory.” so far. There so much deeper stuff going on with many of the main characters, so It will definitely be interesting on seeing how the producers will be able to develop and introduce it all into the story.

  64. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    We look to fantasy or SF to provide different cooler stuff than reality, everyone in the world can own a dog but this show has the opportunity to have characters own mythological beasts of death and terror, the way the book intended, not giving dogs treats and fetching gloves. how could anyone not wish to see that.

  65. Jim Cross
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I really hope they don’t cut HotU…. One of my favorite parts (seems like I say favorite parts a lot)…
    To those that mentioned that the book version was not written well, I have always thought that the writing of it was intentionally odd to force the reader into feeling the affects of the hallucinogen Dany took.

  66. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    I don’t think that CGI wolves = more badass story. The story is about the human characters, the dire wovles aren’t much more than a plot device. Also, what if instead of fierce looking dire wolves they made ridiculous looking cheesy dire wolves. If season one would have had more wolf scenes, but with absurd-looking cartoon dogs, I guarantee the show would have lost credibility with a significant chunk of the audience that it ended up winning over with the amazing story.

    I am nervous about season two CGI. I think they need to keep it toned down when it comes to wolves and dragons, and save the budget for a spectacular Blackwater. It’s the most important scene in the book anyway.

  67. babylonrisen
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I think I’d actually openly sob, tear my clothes and pour ashes over my head if they cut out the House of the Undying. I can’t explain how much I’m looking forward to the wolf-headed king, raped and destroyed Westeros, Rhaegar, the false Undying and the real Undying… not to mention all the frightening corridors. HBO, if you are actually lacking the budget for this, START A FUNDRAISER PLEASE. Or stick with dogs for another season! Please!

  68. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Jim Cross:
    To those that mentioned that the book version was not written well, I have always thought that the writing of it was intentionally odd to force the reader into feeling the affects of the hallucinogen Dany took.

    That’s a good point, and entirely likely. It just seems so out of place and jarring, but perhaps that’s what GRRM was going for.

  69. shadallion
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    “In the books it was clear that people stopped and stared in fear and awe whenever they saw the wolves. You just can’t convey that whatsoever with dogs. If they make fierce looking CGI wolves, the story becomes more bad ass, the character of Jon, Bran and Rob become much more bad ass, and the show itself becomes super bad ass.”

    +1

    If you’re going to have the direwolves, make them the impressive, terrifying beasts they are. They are not doggies.

  70. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Eric Bigpicture,

    I see what you are saying. I think there are sorta 2 philosophies regarding ASOIAF.
    1) the story is all the characters and all the drama all the backstabbing etc.
    2) the real story is about 2 particular plotlines and BOTH dragons and wolves play an integral part in them.

  71. Andreas Papaelias
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    OT:

    The /Filmcast podcast just had an episode talking about the series. I haven’t listened to it yet but it seems quite lengthy.

    http://www.slashfilm.com/filmcast-bonus-ep-game-thrones-season-1/

  72. Kate
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    What I would do is leave the HOTU, but entirely change all the visions. Do not show any of the unrelated prophecies, but only glimpses from the past of House Targaryen. We know that have filmed the scene of Rickard and Brandon’s death already. This is the place to have it. Add Rhaegar talking to Elia, and the mad King Ordering to burn the city.

  73. Ser Skwisgaard
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Steel_Wind:

    My point: from a budgetary aspect, CGI wolves are far cheaper to do than CGI dragons. I’m sure that D&D will want to use “real wolves” for as long as they can, so that when they finally DO move to using a CGI wolf, it will be of a dire wolf at its final adult size. That way, they won’t pay for additional wolf models after that. When the dire wolf model is complete, that base model will be “done” and will not be significantly changed throughout the balance of the series.

    As someone who works in this field, I don’t want to nitpick you, because you may just be scaling down your response because this is a comment section on a fan site.

    But it’s not as easy as “wolves are cheaper than dragons”. Actually, if I were budgeting this for my company, I’d budget about twice as much for the wolves. A few reasons:

    1) Fur. Fur is just about one of the hardest things to render realistically. It moves differently on the body, it gets blown in the wind. It gets matted when it’s wet, and it can get dirty. Dragon scales? Please, we figured that out in 2001. But fur is still a nightmare to texture and light.

    2) Realism. Ever seen a dragon? Know what they move like? Nope? Me neither. Ever seen a wolf? Oh, crap. You know how they move huh? Uh oh. We gotta go watch hours of wolf footage to get their walking, galloping, howling – EVERYTHING correct.

    3) Compositing (Interaction w/ footage). My guess is that, shot-for-shot, you are going to have more direwolf interaction with humans (walking beside, behind, amongst, getting pet, attacking) than dragons. You can drop a dragon on dany’s shoulder, or up on a perch, and you’ve probably established the shot. The wolfs are going to have to be done SO carefully when they are just ‘hanging out’. If I were overseeing this, I’d build some big-ass wolf sculptures, taxidermied with real fur in different positions. Then you can composite faces on to them for quick reaction shots.

    Honestly, you can buy a wolf “model” on-line for cheap. It’s the rigging, the movement, the texturing, the lighting and the compositing that’s gonna take forever.

  74. The DarkStar
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    CGI:
    On the Ryan and Ryan podcast, the dude they had on said some pretty tepid things about the dragons… I thought they looked brilliant.

  75. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Ser Skwisgaard,

    Very interesting post, and only heightens my apprehension about the potential overuse of CGI in season two. Any little “mistake” in the way the wolves are represented will stick out like a sore thumb.

    Also, and I mean no disrespect of any sort to the people at BlueBolt, but I was underwhelmed by the dragons. They were by no means bad, but they looked like CGI. Good for television? Absolutely. Good when measured against the standard set by film? Not as much. I understand the time constrains and other challenges involved in doing a scene like that (especially after reading that excellent interview), and I’m sure the best was done given the time and resources, but I was a bit disappointed. I was buying them until Drogon unfurled his wings, but there was just something off about his movement, the way his claws interacted with Dany’s arm, the way he was balanced on her shoulder… something didn’t seem quite right.

    Please forgive the nitpick; it didn’t lessen the impact of that scene, and it certainly didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the series. Kudos to BlueBolt for doing an amazing job with the rest of the CGI, and a “merely” very good job with the dragons. :)

  76. Blueberry2
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather they focus more on the battle than cartoony looking wolves, the dogs this season were fine enough. CGI can quickly start to look bad when overused. Ideally they’d use animatronic wolves but I guess that would be expensive and it’s just not done anymore.

  77. Miang
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Eric Bigpicture:
    Ser Skwisgaard,

    They were by no means bad, but they looked like CGI.

    I don’t mean any disrespect by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to ask – exactly how in the world are dragons, which we all know are not real, going to come off as anything but well done CGI?

  78. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Miang,

    I’m not saying that we won’t understand intellectually that they are CGI; of course dragons aren’t real (sadly? thankfully?). I’m just saying that they look a bit “off.” I think there is CGI that looks very convincing, and CGI that looks less than convincing. I just think the dragons fall into the latter category. Again, I don’t think they are poorly done, I just think they look a bit artificial. It’s barely even a complaint, just an opinion.

  79. Ser Skwisgaard
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    The dragon’s exceeded my expectations. I thought the looked good. I thought the scene worked brilliantly. Even though I do a lot of CG for a living, my feeling is if it works, it works. The only thing that I started to notice was the compositing at the very end where really, Dany would have, I dunno, FLINCHED or something, when the dragon hopped up onto her shoulder. But I thought they were designed and rendered well. Much better than I expected.

    Honestly, Dan & Dave should do what the Alien teams have done for a long time – split it up. Build a couple of models that puppeteers can work for close ups and static shots, CG when they need to move, and at that point, you make them move FAST, BLURRY, and BEHIND STUFF.

  80. Steel_Wind
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Ser Skwisgaard: As someone who works in this field, I don’t want to nitpick you, because you may just be scaling down your response because this is a comment section on a fan site.

    But it’s not as easy as “wolves are cheaper than dragons”.Actually, if I were budgeting this for my company, I’d budget about twice as much for the wolves.A few reasons:

    1) Fur.
    2) Realism.Ever seen a dragon?Know what they move like?Nope?Me neither.Ever seen a wolf?
    3) Compositing (Interaction w/ footage).My guess is that, shot-for-shot, you are going to have more direwolf interaction with humans (walking beside, behind, amongst, getting pet, attacking) than dragons.You can drop a dragon on dany’s shoulder, or up on a perch, and you’ve probably established the shot.

    Honestly, you can buy a wolf “model” on-line for cheap.It’s the rigging, the movement, the texturing, the lighting and the compositing that’s gonna take forever.

    I’ve worked in the field too — though on the computer game side and not on the film side.

    1 Fur) I deliberately chose to leave out discussion of rendering time for fur vs. scales – but you are, of course, absolutely right on that point.

    2 Realism) I don’t think we know Dire Wolves any more than we really know Dragons. The wargs in The Two Towers, for example were clearly different in terms of their structure that they didn’t move quite the same way as a wolf. Dire Woves are off enoughb that they have an ambit of wiggle room that is not present from a normal wolf. I do, however, take your point. Uncanny Valley applies to wolves far more than it does to dragons, so perhaps you have a good point here.

    3 Interaction) I would not agree on the degree of interaction, however. Indeed, I think there will be less interaction with wolves in the scenes in which they are used than the dragons, not more. That will change sometime in books 5/6 or 7, sure, but in the early going? Warging to wolf form is the most obvious use, where the wolf is off by itself. The dragons are always interacting with Daenerys or a guest in some form — they essentially never go off by themeselves, so the interaction is more, not less I should think.

    Mind you — the wolves DO engage in fight scenes so… six of one, half-dozen-the-other, perhaps.

    In the end, I’m happy with a few solid scenes of each, with the focus being on the BotB. That is the point where scale and scope is required and knocking out Tyrion to escape the consequences of that scale on the budget is not appropriate.

  81. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I still think I’d rather see more of the dogs than cgi…

    But the wisest move would probably be a combination of both.

  82. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Adam Dean:
    If the House of the Undying is cut out, what will Dany do in Season 2 of importance?It’s been a while since I’ve read CoK, but that’s the only thing that really stands out (other than meeting White Beard near the end).

    This. I’m actually a bit concerned about Dany’s storyline for Season 2, as it’s pretty weak (and most new viewers are probably expecting it to be awesome).

  83. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Ser Skwisgaard:
    The only thing that I started to notice was the compositing at the very end where really, Dany would have, I dunno, FLINCHED or something, when the dragon hopped up onto her shoulder.

    I think that might be exactly what I was trying to (poorly) articulate by saying something felt “off.” There was a moment when the dragon didn’t seem part of the scene; it seemed separated somehow, and I noticed. I think when a viewer notices CG, it is a sign that something could have been done a wee bit better.

  84. sjwenings
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Lex: This. I’m actually a bit concerned about Dany’s storyline for Season 2, as it’s pretty weak (and most new viewers are probably expecting it to be awesome).

    If they keep the HOTU and add the “purchase” of the Unsullied from ASOS, it should be quite satisfying. But i guess they might want to show a little less of Dany in season 2, as she (even with this addition) still does not really do that much – better to show mostly the exiting stuff rather than keeping a bunch of the more boring stuff just in order for her to have more to do.

  85. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I just assumed they’d save the unsullied for Season 3, but I guess they could move it up.

  86. KG
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Mind you, I’m a musician, so take my suggestion with a grain of “don’t know what I’m talking about” salt.

    Couldn’t they find some real wolves, film them running around the sets or whatever, then composite the people in around them? Still difficult and time-consuming, but hey … there would be no question of “realism.”

  87. Maxwell James
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    As a non-expert, one think I took from that interview was that time is as much as a constraint as money when it comes to CGI on TV. That in turn makes me wonder what the shooting order for the episodes will be this time around. The general assumption seems to be that they’ll be shot in mostly-chronological order, but if the CGI team needs extra time for the Blackwater and critter scenes, we could see a big shift in the shooting schedule. Which in turn could affect casting.

  88. Gormryjk
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure why everyone seems to think The Hose of The Undying sequence will require so much CGI. I mean, couldn’t most of it be done with regular live actors, props and set-building? Of course, the last room, with the hovering blue heart and ghosts and then Drogon burning everything, would admittedly require some CGI.

    Another question about THOTU – IIRC it’s in Dany’s second last chapter of the book, and assuming that they’re not moving anything Dany from book 3 up to season 2, wouldn’t this mean that THOTU would be in episode 9? The episode GRRM is currently writing? It would make a lot of sense – give a sequence crammed full of foreshadowing and cryptical clues to George to write to make sure everything that needs to be included gets included and that it’s all done right. Especially if the producers decide that some parts of it the way it’s written in the books is too expensive and it needs to be reimagined.

  89. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    KG:
    Couldn’t they find some real wolves, film them running around the sets or whatever, then composite the people in around them?Still difficult and time-consuming, but hey … there would be no question of “realism.”

    No way. That’s about 1000 times more difficult than adding in cgi wolves.

  90. KG
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    If you say so :)

  91. MikeFromBraavos
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Caedes,

    Caedes: Caedes
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    For all us believers in R+L=J, that is a MAJOR plot point.

    I disagree. It is foreshadowing to a potential major plot point – but you don’t need the foreshadowing to end up with the same results. I think a lot of book readers get lost up in that fact with all the ToJ discussions. Just because GRRM is leading us along with little clues doesn’t mean the show needs to include ANY of those clues to end up with the same result. They can either drop their own alternate clues, or just spring it on the viewer when they get to season X.

    You don’t NEED ToJ to get to that conclusion – it just helps you to get there on your own (or admittedly in my case, it goes way over your head and confuses you).

  92. MajorPayne
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t you CGI guys volunteer your services rather than b*tch about how they’re doing it?

  93. MikeFromBraavos
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    And to be fair, I think all the little clues to all the various plots & subplots that GRRM sprinkles through out his books is brilliant… I just don’t think they’re integral to the story to the point that the TV show suffers without them.

    Sure, it would be better with them… but it would also be better if they had 20 episodes a season. : )

  94. saluk
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I have some experience with CG, but none on a big production like this, so it’s fascinating to see why this stuff is so hard. On a movie, they usually have months to years of prep time, and much more time after shooting is finished as well, to really make complex stuff work. (And they spend the money to hire a bunch of teams these days, which makes it go faster)

    Compositing (integrating effects into a scene) is hard to do right, and I assume HBO wants everything to look believable. With the robots or ships in BSG, they don’t need much compositing. Even in the interior, the whole set can be cg, with the actors on a green screen. With this setting virtual sets take more time to make believable, and having something like a cg direwolf running around is something altogether different :)

    It looks like a lot of the problems with Season one were due to the pilot process. It was greenlit relatively late, and they had a lot of extra work to do since the pilot was redone, slowing down the process. Hopefully the new effects company has been prepping already while season 1 was playing, so they should have had a few extra months of prep time. Prep time is important because they get to plan out the complex shots, start making textures and models, and just organizing the team for what the workflow will look like. But I don’t know if we have heard about the new company yet? If they are a bigger group they will certainly be able to handle more, while being more expensive. They may have a lower budget in other areas to compensate.

    Congrats to BlueBolt for doing such a great job!

    Lex,

    Her storyline was the weakest part of the first book as well. Personally it never clicked for me, and in the show it was brilliant (even if in reality changed very little), so maybe it will work better in the show as well.

  95. Mike Chair
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Lex: This. I’m actually a bit concerned about Dany’s storyline for Season 2, as it’s pretty weak

    Yup. Vaes Tolorro, Qarth, Undying, assassination attempt and Arstan. That’s it.

    Lex: I just assumed they’d save the unsullied for Season 3, but I guess they could move it up.

    It’s either that or they improvise. Wait. I got it. Ros goes to Essos and hooks up with Dany’s crew. Then it’s just ripping off some old Three’s Company scripts with Jorah in the middle. Three’s Company was just a rip off of a British sitcom called Man About the House, so it’ll be okay.

  96. bugsbane
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Too bad about BlueBolt. It would be interesting to see exactly how much ‘processing power’ is needed for season 2 . Is it 2x BlueBolt or 5x BlueBolt or an order of magnitude.

    And.. as far as the spoilers go, my wife, a non-reader, said out of the blue: Hey I just realized that Jon has black hair and looks like Robert. I wonder if he could be Robert and Lyanna’s son. Of course, R+L = J usually means Rheagar – but, what if it was Robert. Then Robert would not have known (Lyanna sould have kept it from him). T’would also explain why Jon does not have white hair. And it compresses the timeline of ToJ because Robert would’ve had to get her pregnant between the Isle of Faces Tourney and the kidnapping. Just a thought.

  97. Stephen Bulla
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    LanLanLurker,

    That’s exactly what I was thinking… and I hope that’s what they meant. I believe they show up in book 2 for the first time.

  98. Hollyoak
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    metalgoddessamb:
    I’m sure we’re going to lose The House Of The Undying. All that stuff is prophecy and foreshadowing of a deeper mystery and an “understory”, and we’ve really had none of thatin season one.I don’t thinkall those subtle clues about princes who were promised and certain people’s parentage can fit into the story that David & Dan are telling, otherwise, they would have already given us the clues from the first book, and they haven’t.

    Totally agree with this and I don’t think it will be a great loss to the story or arc of Dany. I always found it confusing and meandering in the book.

  99. coltaine777
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m a devout believer in R+L=J…

  100. Hollyoak
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    MajorPayne:
    Why don’t you CGI guys volunteer your services rather than b*tch about how they’re doing it?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but the CGI folks who commented didn’t sound like they were “bitching at all.” Their posts sounded well-thought out and informative.

  101. Hollyoak
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if somehow, some way, we get to see the discarded pilot. Doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would be an extra on the DVD. Too much peeking behind the curtain and seeing the machinery of a production that never was. But I sure would like to see it.

  102. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Hollyoak:
    I wonder if somehow, some way, we get to see the discarded pilot. Doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would be an extra on the DVD. Too much peeking behind the curtain and seeing the machinery of a production that never was. But I sure would like to see it.

    I’m not sure I want to see it, anymore. The pilot scenes that found their way into episode 1 looked sub-par to me. Didn’t like Ned’s hair at all, among other things.

  103. Cameron Rasmusson
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Guess I’m in the minority, but I liked the dogs-as-wolves setup just fine in the first season. The real animals gave them personality. Remember that trailer with Jon on the Iron Throne and a huge Ghost sitting next to him? I thought that looked great, but maybe that setup isn’t viable in different types of shots.

    I just think of the godawful werewolves in those wretched Twilight movies or all sorts of other terrible CGI movie wolves and the cringing begins.

  104. Lex
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Cameron Rasmusson:
    Remember that trailer with Jon on the Iron Throne and a huge Ghost sitting next to him? I thought that looked great, but maybe that setup isn’t viable in different types of shots.

    Exactly.

    I said this, back when people were suggesting they just “enlarge” the dogs with CGI “like in LOTR”. Anyone who has watched the LOTR documentaries knows that forced perspective shots are INCREDIBLY complex and difficult. The shot on the throne only worked because the actor, the dog, and the camera were all stationary. Add in any movement or different angles and it becomes nearly impossible.

  105. Alan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Gormryjk:
    I’m not sure why everyone seems to think The Hose of The Undying sequence will require so much CGI. I mean, couldn’t most of it be done with regular live actors, props and set-building? Of course, the last room, with the hovering blue heart and ghosts and then Drogon burning everything, would admittedly require some CGI.

    Another question about THOTU – IIRC it’s in Dany’s second last chapter of the book, and assuming that they’re not moving anything Dany from book 3 up to season 2, wouldn’t this mean that THOTU would be in episode 9? The episode GRRM is currently writing? It would make a lot of sense – give a sequence crammed full of foreshadowing and cryptical clues to George to write to make sure everything that needs to be included gets included and that it’s all done right. Especially if the producers decide that some parts of it the way it’s written in the books is too expensive and it needs to be reimagined.

    It’s not that the HOTU would necessarily require CGI, but think of the set, casting, costuming costs for each three-second vision?

    I’m still betting on the warlocks speaking most of the prophecy/flashback. One set, one shoot, “I see a…” etc.

    GoT had no TOJ, and barely touched on Bran’s dream. And the latter was on an existing set with no additional casting. I just don’t see setting up the visions detailed as being anywhere near cost effective – esp. with wolves, dragons and battles to pay for.

  106. Avalanche3319
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar: CGI:On the Ryan and Ryan podcast, the dude they had on said some pretty tepid things about the dragons… I thought they looked brilliant.

    Anyone who could possibly complain about the quality of the dragons is just looking for something to whine about.

  107. The DarkStar
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Hollyoak: I wonder if somehow, some way, we get to see the discarded pilot

    I would kill to see Tamzin as Dany, and other chick as Catelyn.

  108. paulgude
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Avalanche3319,

    I really really really hate CGI creatures and thought the dragons looked fine. I was steeling myself to grit my teeth and endure them, but they never took me out of the scene. Not once.

  109. Eric Bigpicture
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    paulgude,

    What are your opinions about the potential to overuse CGI next season? I thought it was tastefully restrained in season one. Too much CGI can be a liability if not done very, very well.

  110. Weirwood
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Lex: Exactly.

    I said this, back when people were suggesting they just “enlarge” the dogs with CGI “like in LOTR”. Anyone who has watched the LOTR documentaries knows that forced perspective shots are INCREDIBLY complex and difficult. The shot on the throne only worked because the actor, the dog, and the camera were all stationary. Add in any movement or different angles and it becomes nearly impossible.

    I think the live action dogs would be better looking than CGI Direwolves.

    Here is an interesting article that addresses forced perspective.
    http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/category/special-effects/

    Scroll down to the “Darby O’Gill & the Little People” section. They also have a quick shot of Gandolf in the cart with Frodo and how forced perspective is used to make Frodo seem hobbit-sized.

    http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/Fellowship-cart-perspective.jpg

  111. Weirwood
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    For anyone who (like me) is obsessed with every little detail of the show.

    His a great article about the opening credits.

    http://www.artofthetitle.com/2011/05/12/game-of-thrones/

    It features a Q&A with Creative Director Angus Wall of Elastic. And shows the map concept art from the original title sequence that was commissioned for the pilot.

    Tons of sketches and art including a full image of the Astrolabe (from concept to final render)! :)

  112. The Red Avenger
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    I can’t see WETA getting the nod – they will have their hands full with the Hobbit. Digital Domain maybe or The Moving Picture Company. I would love to see Massive used for the battles but there is other “Crowd” software available. I imagine Bluebolt will still be used for some things – the matte paintings and backgrounds but you need a bigger house for multiple shots of the Direwolves and Dragons.

  113. Weirwood
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    /

  114. Nikola Kovčić
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    The DarkStar:
    Please HBO, give us some proper bad ass wolves in season 2, not dogs!

    YEAH! Please…We want badass Direwolves…

  115. Flow101
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Time for HBO to contact the CG team from the Scyfy channel, best team out there for a low budget! ;)

  116. Amaranth
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Weirwood,

    There are several problems with using real dogs for the direwolves.

    They are difficult to train and work with.
    They are actually quite expensive, requiring handlers and trainers and often multiple dogs to perform different tasks.
    They are too freakin’ small (the full-grown direwolves are supposed to be the size of elk).

    Forced perspective is also not exactly simple. It requires a great deal of planning, design and construction of special props, and sometimes even the construction of sets with mechanical elements to compensate for a moving camera (because the actors and props have to be moved in-synch with the camera to maintain the illusion.)

    A combination of animatronics for close-up shots and CGI for distance shots would be much more effective and easier to handle. The only real concern is that realistic fur is extremely difficult to do in CGI, and by using puppets for any close-ups, things become easier.

  1. […] doesn't go into any detail about what it is, so it should be safe. Read at your discretion anyway Season two going to require more complex CGI – Winter Is Coming Awesome news this. It helps put my mind at ease somewhat after being apprehensive about their […]

  2. […] did a great job with Season 1, so I will try and trust that they can do it successfully. And it looks like the direwolves could possibly be CGI? Anyway, there is going to be new FX company for Season […]


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