A fascinating look at the production of the visual effects for Game of Thrones by Pixomondo,
an international creative design and visual effects studio which involved 305 digital artists from nine of its twelve studios around the world. A separate matte painting department was created in Stuttgart where 10 artists who specialized in castles and medieval scenes came together. Senior Matte Painting Artist Sven Sauer gives us a look behind the scenes.
The backdrop of the castle Harrenhall has been built on a parking lot in the solitude of Ireland. Only a small yard was built as basis. The huge castle has later been expanded digitally.
For the construction of the world of Game of Thrones, there are always hints of past times, kingdoms and lost homes in the novel. The Visual Effects Team tried to include all these sub-stories in the paintings. The artists exactly analyzed the descriptions of the castles and landscapes in the books. How did the castle towers of Pyke look like before the weather had stricken them? The walls of the castle of Harrenhall once melted under the fire of dragons. In the book, this was just mentioned in a few lines – but anyway, it had to be considered carefully how a fortress would look like after having been overwhelmed by a huge fireball.
Hints in the "real world" could help the digital painters to design those fantasy landscapes: even in the past of Europe there had once been some castles which had possibly suffered a similar fate as the castles in Westeros. So those castles have provided inspiration in order to lend credibility to the buildings and environments of Westeros.
The North: There hasn’t been any shooting location for this scene. The view from the Wall northwards shows the last area of the forest before the bleak landscape begins. The complete shot has been created digitally.
Game of Thrones has given us the chance to create a whole world. But the series leads us to places which had to be built arduously. This process took several months to be completed. Films are always a deal, a kind of agreement between the filmmakers and the audience. Filmmakers create a world, and the audience gets involved in this creation. This pact will only work if it obeys certain laws. Perhaps the most important law is: nothing in our world exists without a past! Our environment is always peppered with details of past events. These details make the world tangible and authentic. This is exactly what pertains to our pictures. A good Matte Painting is full of memories, telling stories about the past.