[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
HBO's Game of Thrones season 6 finale episode was an edge of your seat, wildfire-filled vault of surprises with shocks, twists, gratifying fan theory confirmations, satisfying resolutions to long-awaited narrative build-ups and some pretty impressive explosions. The Seven Kingdoms are as vast and culturally diverse a universe as the plot of the show is complex - something that could not be achieved without the remarkable visual affects used in its creation.
Perhaps the largest visual challenge posed to the creators for “The Winds Of Winter” was the spectacular destruction of Kings Landing landmark; the Great Sept Of Baelor in an explosive display of the power of wildfire. The amazing VFX that brought these scenes to life with such realism has been revealed for the show's fans in a brand-new featurette (which you can watch it above).
Season 6 has been the first Game Of Thrones season to have developed the narrative beyond the published material of its source novels. This advance has leveled the field for both show and book reading fans in terms of plot knowledge - upping the ante for an episode such as “The Winds Of Winter” to be all the more shocking for viewers. The show has become synonymous with pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved visually within the expected limits of a fantasy TV series (the multiple locations, astounding architecture, huge battle scenes and magical creatures demand this), placing the show on the same aesthetic level, comparatively, as high budget fantasy films.
Game of Thrones visual extravaganza is created through filming in some of Europe's most striking locations, incredible makeup, costuming and adept use of VFX. Rising Sun Pictures (the visual effects company responsible for the incredible wildfire scenes in last season's finale) have released this featurette that showcases not only how such a high impact phenomenon is achieved, but also the architectural enhancements of real life locations and the creation of crowd scenes. The featurette does not include any narration to supplement the video - allowing the viewed artistic process to speak for itself.
Rising Sun's VFX producer Richard Thwaites and VFX supervisor Hubert Maston have discussed the visual achievement for “The Winds Of Winter” on the company's blog:
“King’s Landing is based on Dubrovnik, a Croatian city on the Adriatic that has many beautiful, medieval buildings...... A lot of our early work involved wide views of the city, as well as internal and external views of the Sept (which is based on Fort Manoel in the Maltese town of Gżira)” _-Thwaites.
“Game of Thrones is a fantasy, but the aesthetic is highly realistic...... The realism carries through in the design, the weight and dimension of the architecture and the atmosphere of the environments.” -Maston.
Thwaites went on to mention the Key wildfire scene that was the visual showpiece of the episode:
“One reason that the scene is so shocking is that it seems so real....... The explosion happens from inside out and seems so powerful that you believe it can take out everything in its surroundings.”
With each new season building narrative conflict and featuring plot developments such as gruesome battles and ever growing dragons, there is an expectation for Game Of Thrones to increase its visual wonder as the series continues. This season was no exception as the penultimate “Battle Of The Bastards” episode featured the largest battle scene the show has attempted so far, only to be followed by Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey) wildfire flavored mass genocide in the finale. Whereas the show has traditionally reserved its biggest twists and marvels for its seasons' ninth episodes leading up to this point, the additional shock events of the final really delivered - thanks to the success of the incredible VFX work that made it possible.
With a dragon supplemented armada bearing down on Westeros, the wildfire explosion is unlikely to be the last beating Kings Landing will face in the near future, not to mention the other VFX requiring threats the Seven Kingdoms face. The pressure will no doubt be even higher for Game Of Thrones creators to deliver awe inspiring visual scenes for season 7, it will be exciting to see what is in store for 2017.
Game Of Thrones Season 7 is expected to air in Summer 2017.
Source: Rising Sun Pictures