The best CGI: part 2
By Winter Is Coming on in Production.

Following on BlueBolt’s visual effects reel going viral (almost 600,000 views already), Screen Scene has released a reel proudly displaying their own brand of CGI wizardry. Screen Scene is a Dublin-based post-production and visual effects studio. They worked in tandem with BlueBolt on season one of Game of Thrones. Ed Bruce, Screen Scene’s VFX supervisor, notes they produced 350 of the approximately 686 effects shots from this first season. Take a look at the vid:

You can check out some gifs and additional notes on many of those shots from Ed Bruce over at his tumblr page. Also, Westeros.org promises an interview with Bruce to be published soon, so that should give us even more insight into their work on Thrones.

Winter Is Coming: Awesome stuff. This video, in my opinion, is even more impressive than the first. If this show doesn’t win the visual effects Emmy, it will be a travesty.


38 Comments

  1. Ed
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Awesome stuff!

  2. Brett
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Lots of great background shots. I noticed they used a kind of mist or fog in many of the “army” background shots, probably because it helps to make CGI tents/soldiers look more realistic.

    The tournament CGI bit makes me wonder why they didn’t use that in the first tournament scene in the show, the one where Littlefinger is chatting with Sansa.

    I honestly couldn’t tell most of the time what was CGI and what was real while watching the show’s background shots. It’s amazing how far the technology has come – as recently as 20-30 years ago, they would have had to do matte paintings to get the same effect (with matte lines and other issues).

  3. purplejilly
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Wow, that’s really cool. I love these videos where they show you the ‘before’ and ‘after’ look. I rememebr the John Adams production from HBO had a really cool reel like this. Very awesome…

  4. Paco
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Is it sad that I was most impressed by the snow? i mean, i actually thought they filmed while it was snowing. Im so easily impressed lol

  5. Jake the Snake
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Cool, but BlueBolts is a class above this one.

  6. saluk
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    These are much more difficult and complex effects than the ones bluebolt did. 3d people, come on :)

  7. KG
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Paco,

    Not at all. Snow is something that most of us have at least some real-life experience with. It’s much harder to fake the familiar.

  8. Damian
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Awesome work. They pretty much get credit for the show’s whole atmosphere.

    Tangent – The music is by Zoe Keating. Saw her in concert in June – definitely worth checking out, for any that care.

  9. Winter Is Coming
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    saluk: These are much more difficult and complex effects than the ones bluebolt did. 3d people, come on :)

    For the most part, I agree with you. But BlueBolt did knock the dragons outta the park… let’s just say they both did phenomenal work!

  10. Dreamlife
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I really love this video, but even after a second look I still don’t understand how they filmed Gregor decapitating that horse. >_>

  11. stock taker 1
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    3d dragons! Come on ;-)

  12. Zack
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Astounding stuff. I really hope they take the Emmy.

  13. TheFacelessMan
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Really impressive. I wouldn’t have been able to point out a lot of these shots as CGI in the slightest. Excellent music too.

  14. TheFacelessMan
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Damian,

    I care! Liked what I found online a lot. Beautiful stuff. Do you know the name of this specific track?

  15. Ed
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Amazing stuff, truly. So tell me again why they couldn’t do Direwolves… ?

    (actually, don’t tell me, I’ve heard all the reasons.. fur, movement, blah blah blah)

  16. fancySansa
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    half the time i don’t even realize what’s cgi and what’s not. =) i guess that means they did a great job =)
    whoever is doing season 2 cgi, i hope the direwolves look amazing and like wolves!! (the huskies in season 1 were cute, but my own husky looks and acts so much like them, i basically have my own direwolf…not that i’m complaining about that =P).

    the coolest thing ever would be a season 2 teaser trailer revealing one (or more) of the cgi direwolves. and having one howl. *chills*

  17. Igor Veloso
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Funny how smoke, fog and sometimes a little bit more of ilumination/shadow make the CGI look so real. I think or my thory is that it somewhat hides the “obvious CGI”, if anyone understands of this stuff please reply :D

    Wonderful stuff! Both videos and companies are excellent! It’s no simple nor cheap job! I loved the background music: Escape artist – Zoe Keating it fits like a charm in the video. Thanks for sharing Winter.

  18. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I likewise enjoyed the music, I have to say (but great job on the effects, too!).

  19. HandmaidenofDany
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t even realize that much CGI went into this. The actors weren’t even using weapons in some of the fighting scenes!

  20. Mongerel
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    TheFacelessMan: TheFacelessMan
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Damian,

    I care! Liked what I found online a lot. Beautiful stuff. Do you know the name of this specific track?

    Someone in the comments at YT identified it as “Escape Artist”, if that helps.

  21. Martin E
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Igor Veloso:
    Funny how smoke, fog and sometimes a little bit more of ilumination/shadow make the CGI look so real. I think or my thory is that it somewhat hides the “obvious CGI”, if anyone understands of this stuff please reply :D

    Wonderful stuff! Both videos and companies are excellent! It’s no simple nor cheap job! I loved the background music: Escape artist – Zoe Keatingit fits like a charm in the video. Thanks for sharing Winter.

    Lighting and atmospherics are perhaps the most important part of a scene, espcially when compositing with film. I’ve done a fair bit of 3d work, textures and lighting (architecture and games) – and it’s amazing what light and atmospherics can do.

    For me, 90% of that show real is really great, subtle and well integrated – there were a couple of scenes where the CGI leapt out (the shot of the raven leaving the tower is one – for me the tower looked more like an in-game shot of a CRPG)

  22. Mormegil
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  23. clemintine
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Poor Jory, didn’t even get stabbed in the eye with a real dagger!

    Excellent work, but it just leaves me scratching my head over the whole “empty Westros” thing. They already were using CGI for the tournament (which I didn’t even know was CGI, so good work!) then why didn’t they just, you know, use more CGI tents and people to make it look like a true capital’s spectacle!

  24. Igor Veloso
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Martin E: Lighting and atmospherics are perhaps the most important part of a scene, espcially when compositing with film. I’ve done a fair bit of 3d work, textures and lighting (architecture and games) – and it’s amazing what light and atmospherics can do.

    For me, 90% of that show real is really great, subtle and well integrated – there were a couple of scenes where the CGI leapt out (the shot of the raven leaving the tower is one – for me the tower looked more like an in-game shot of a CRPG)

    Thankyou! :D You having worked with 3d I’m sure CGI can’t fool ya, as it fooled me sometimes. In some cases I think they really built the scenario but this videos have proved me wrong in those cases.

    I know that sometimes they make structures in a very short scale like the size of a large monitor and they use some small camera to film and then in the computer they add the horseman, the people or wathever they want to add. I think it wasn’t the case here, maybe that tech is much more expensive? =/

    Thanks for the hints :D

    Mormegil:
    Some more great GoT SFX here

    that’s a quite nice humorous way to see it haha

  25. claire alson
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    This stuff all seems nice but simple and nothing new. All the cool stuff, castles and dragons looks like it was on part 1. Was that all bluebolt? They rock!

  26. Del
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Did you guys see this? Game of Thrones 16-bit RPG. Was originally on College Humor.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY6cUt_jkqs

  27. Del
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Oops… few posts too late. Heh.

  28. Porcupine Tree
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    HandmaidenofDany,

    +1

    Anyone else getting a peculiar sympathetic pain in the gut when those spears are going in and out of the actors?

  29. mummer
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    clemintine: They already were using CGI for the tournament (which I didn’t even know was CGI, so good work!) then why didn’t they just, you know, use more CGI tents and people to make it look like a true capital’s spectacle!

    This was specifically talked about in an interview with either the director or one of the VFX people. The answer was basically “We could’ve done more, but it’s not quick, so we did what we could in the time we had.”

  30. mummer
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Dreamlife: I really love this video, but even after a second look I still don’t understand how they filmed Gregor decapitating that horse

    They decapitated a human actor and then used CGI to make him look like a horse.

  31. GabbyD
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    fancySansa,

    yeah, thats the mark of excellent effects work, i think.

  32. Lex
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Truly amazing. It’s crazy how many things were CGI, things I never even suspected. The technology has come a long way, and this is the best way to use it IMO.

    Makes you wonder, though, why we couldn’t get a bigger crowd shot at the Tourney, or a bigger shot of the khalasar (just copying and pasting the same actors over and over). My only theory is that HBO just didn’t think the scale thing was such a big deal.

  33. Hear Me Roar
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Pretty amazing! ;)
    As Winter said, the shows simply need to win the Emmy, or else.

  34. Porcupine Tree
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Lex:
    Truly amazing. It’s crazy how many things were CGI, things I never even suspected. The technology has come a long way, and this is the best way to use it IMO.

    +1
    I love the big, obvious CGI, but it’s the little things like Summer that put the icing on the cake.

    Of course, in a perfect world, they could do so much more with crowd-filling, but we have to live with the constraints of a tv show. And if more time were given, then we would be waiting even longer…

  35. dimensionallyt
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    Pure class, I had no idea so much was CGId. Very cool. Very clever.

    Come on the Emmy!

  36. Kai Alexis Price
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    So while both companies did very well overall, Screen Scene fell a bit short in regards to the crowd at the tournament, and (in my opinion) BlueBolt fell a bit short with the dragons (seemed a bit cartoony to me), although I suppose in both cases it could be argued that it was a minor blip in the directing they were given.

  37. Balerion
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    What a fantastic video.
    Now, let’s see what HBO brings to the table in season 2……….

  38. Steve McCracken
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Hah. Now that I see that I realize how tiny the crowd for the jousting actually was…

    Personally I think BlueBolt’s effects were better.


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