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July 09
2017

ISSUE

Summer 2017

BEHIND THE THRONE WITH THE THIRD FLOOR

Compiled  by ED OCHS

The Third Floor provided visualization and technical planning/ virtual production for Game of Thrones Seasons 4, 5 and 6, and they are at it again for upcoming Season 7.

In 2016, The Third Floor won its third Creative Arts Emmy® Award for work as part of the Game of Thrones team for Season 6: Episode 9, “The Battle of the Bastards.”

Previs Supervisor Michelle Blok, Visual Effects Plate Supervisor Eric Carney and their Third Floor visioneers work directly with the production in Ireland.

Here, Michelle Blok takes VFX Voice readers on an exclusive tour through previs’d scenes from the dynamic visualization process for Season 6 of Game of Thrones.

ARCTIC WASTELAND VISION:

“The Arctic Wasteland Vision sequence was shot at Magheramorn quarry using the same rocks that had been redressed from another vision shoot. The sequence involved Bran walking through a crowd of thousands of Wights as he approaches the mounted White Walkers. The biggest task for the creative and technical visualization artists on The Third Floor’s team was helping production figure out the shooting methodology. Some shots required multiple tiling passes to create the thousands of characters. Multiple passes were also needed of the White Walkers on their horses against green screens, ensuring there was a full unobscured pass for each rider so VFX could add the decomposing effects to each rider.”

BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS/JON SNOW ONE’R SHOT:

“Our visualization team collaborated with virtually every department to support the production shoot for the Season 6 ‘Battle of the Bastards’ sequences set near Winterfell. Working from storyboards and with director Miguel Sapochnik, we began by visualizing layouts for the battlefield, including huge armies that we previs’d using groups of low-res cached previs models with varied animation cycles. We then outlined the key action beats, using specific battle formations and wide shots, crane shots and vehicle-mounted shots, etc. to help establish the geography for viewers and ensure hero characters remained visible in the crowd. The previs also informed the visual effects and crowd setups needed for each plate.”

“The famous ‘one’r shot,’ which stays on Jon Snow in the thick of the fighting through a series of obstacles and close calls, required particularly close-crafted choreography. Using previs and detailed techvis, we mapped out each pass that would be required for the multi-layered final composite, with color-coded diagrams and Quicktimes to show what would be needed for the practical cameras, stunt elements, horsemaster shots, and CG effects. We calculated camera distances, greenscreen requirements and positions for actors and giant Wun Wun across the entire scene.”

BRAN’S VISION:

“This Season 6 sequence of Bran’s Vision was shot in a small Northern Ireland quarry. Working from a set designed by the art department, our previs team at The Third Floor worked on visualizing layout of stones to figure out how the scene should be laid out on location, where a partially built tree and a number of large standing rocks needed to be placed in away to not only achieve the shots, but to also be positioned within the safe minimum working distance from the quarry walls. As CG rocks would be used to expand the number of practical rocks on set, we blocked out the sequence using a lidar scan of the location, analyzing all the rock placements visible in each shot and creating a plan for their placement on location. We then optimized each camera angle to shoot as much coverage as possible on the built set, with the VFX team filling in the remaining rock spiral with CG elements. To aid in planning the shoot, we provided Director of Photography Anett Haellmigk with a camera layout diagram, marking the position of all the cameras required as well as indication of all real and CG stones.”

SLAVER’S BAY/MEEREEN ATTACK:

“The Slaver’s Bay Attack in Season 6: Episode 9 involved all three dragons, the fictional city of Meereen and locations from Spain to Belfast. Our artists at The Third Floor modeled the environment in previs, ensuring the geographic locations could be tied together with the CG world and that the animated CG dragons would be able to swoop and land, interacting in real-life locations. Shots of Danerys riding Drogon were done in a separate greenscreen shoot. With our head of virtual production, Casey Schatz, we were able to drive a motion-base and live-action motion-control camera crane, programming moves for both so the actress would fit seamlessly into the final shots with realistic, dynamic action. The team also programmed a motion-control crane to do fire elements for the dragons burning the ships.”



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