The Story Behind the Amazing Opening Visuals of Game of Thrones

Temple of the Many-Faced God

Over the past 8 weeks (or so), HBO has been treating Game of Thrones [GOT] fans to exciting episodes of its award winning epic thriller. The long running battle for the infamous “Iron-throne” persists in George R.R. Martins’ fictional land of Westeros. But before delving into accounts about fire-breathing dragons and sarcasm spewing dwarves, let’s appreciate the visually stunning imagery of the show’s Emmy-winning opening title sequence.

The opening is an introductory story itself, designed by the production company, Rock Paper Scissors group which is run by talented film editor Angus Wall. In it we see a map of Westeros from which tiny rotating cogs, wheels and gears rise to form three-dimensional structures representing various cities and fortresses within Westeros.

Contrary to the notion that the titles were done using physical models, every bit of GOT’s opening sequence was created on a computer using highly developed visual imaging designed by Wall’s team. The result; an opening sequence quite unlike anything on Television at the time.

What is more is that the graphic features change every week to reflect twists in the plot as the story unfolds. In Wall’s words, it is an organic, evolving, ever-changing thing, which is one of the things that make it really quite unique.

A Model of King’s Landing

Every season has a different title sequence depending on the story. It takes approximately three to four months to produce the credits and sequence for all 10 episodes. Wall’s team consists of ten persons (almost thirty for season one).

The task usually starts with an artist who sketches the various city features on paper and then transforms it into a model with mechanical diagrams that show the direction of each title sequence. The designs are then handed to the computer graphics department; one person fine tunes the shadows cast by buildings while another works photography angles and frames. A smoke-artist finishes off by adding the final tint and colour.

The job requires all three branches of Rock Paper Scissors group; Elastic works the design, a52 the computer graphics and Rock Paper Scissors does the editing.

So the next time you settle in with your bag of crisps and can of coke to watch an episode of GOT, take a few minutes to appreciate the opening sequence and the graphic designers who put in a lot of work to make it happen.

[Excerpts from Angus Wall’s Interview with Art of the Title]