A new Game of Thrones special effects reel has made a big impression on fans of the show, and is well worth a watch for anyone interested in the movie magic that goes on behind the scenes of the most visually striking films and TV shows today.
Released by Game of Thrones effects artists SpinVFX, the special effects reel reveals just how much of the HBO fantasy drama landscape is manufactured by these visual tech wizards. For the untrained eye, the extent of fakery revealed in these reels is nothing short of astonishing.
Viewers get used to feeling like they can recognize when computer-generated imagery or green screens are being used in a film or TV show. On Game of Thrones, one hopes no one in the audience thinks Danaerys' dragons are real, for example. But the Game of Thrones effects reel reveals how green screens and CGI are constantly used to enhance backgrounds in ways both subtle and drastic. Flat terrain becomes filled out with craggy hills and topped by stormy skies. Empty fields are populated with soldiers or bustling townsfolk. Soldiers riding up a plain hill are granted, through CGI, an enormous and foreboding castle as their destination. As Geek.com notes, even the sails of ships are accentuated or created by special effects.
The Game of Thrones effects reel reveals much not only about the extent of special effects use today, but the state of television. The first surprising thing about these clips is how amazing it is that these teams can create an entire world out of computer-generated imagery, so convincingly that audiences still think the astounding sets and structures are the work of talented carpenters and set designers when in fact they are the work of SFX artists.
The second remarkable thing about the Game of Thrones effects reel is that it shows just how far television production values have come. Not too long ago, before The Sopranos changed the way we think about television drama, television writers and producers were so bound by the limits of their medium that getting the budget to shoot a night scene was a major accomplishment — networks were that stingy.
Now, while certainly not all shows out there are on the level with the epic fantasy extravaganza that is Game of Thrones in terms of visual investments, the series is a clear sign that TV is finally eligible for the same level of craft and investment traditionally afforded to film.
And why shouldn't it be? HBO, Showtime, AMC and even FX have blown audiences away in recent years with their offerings, shaping pop culture at least just as much as any Hollywood product in the same timespan. Whether you're a Game of Thrones fan or not, take these effects reels as a sign that the Golden Age of television hasn't even begun to wind down.