Archive for December, 2012

Prop Closeup: Stannis’ Flaming Sword

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Photo Credit: Helen SloanBy Cat Taylor

While chatting with the SFX team, I managed to wrangle some information on how one of my favorite effects of the season came to be: The Sword of Fire.

There were, it turns out, actually two swords – one that would burn for an actual fight sequence, and another that has the ability to bleed and ignite itself.

The fight-sequence sword is a real sword that the workshop team milled with a number of channels, each one stuffed with a dura-blanket material. The flame retardant fiber is then soaked in IPA (isopropyl alcohol). This was then covered in another layer of material to make the blade look uniform and sword-like again. Because of the length of the sequence, the flame has to last (and burn strong) for at least 3 minutes, which was something of a challenge, as the fuel burned off so quickly.

The second sword had blood inside the blade and could be ignited. The sword itself split into two pieces, and the inside was filled with a series of small, sealed channels. Some were filled with gas, the rest with fake blood – that way, when the blade was drawn across any surface, skin or otherwise, hitting a button on the hilt of the blade would release blood through tiny holes down the side, making it appear as if blood was welling up from a cut.

There was a tiny pilot light, which you could never see on the blade, but when a button was pressed and the gas released down the channels, the sword would burst into flames. You could not use this for any contact during a fight scene, though, as the mechanism inside is too delicate to withstand the impact, and with the blood and gas being supplied into the blade, it would be unsafe to use for stunts.

Animating the Secrets of Westeros

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

As the ‘Game of Thrones’ scripts are written, a story comes together on the page. Then the directors form a vision of how they want to tell that story on screen, which is when the storyboard artist comes into play. Working from the script and discussions with the director and DOP, the artist – in this case the amazingly talented Will Simpson – brings the first images to life. He will draw a series of frames that depict the action within a scene, indicating camera angle and focus and plotting out the order of the sequence.

The storyboards will be sent to all the department heads to work from, a map, if you will, of what is to come. Each director will use them differently; some will have the sequence pinned to boards while they shoot, crossing off frames as they are completed. Others will insert them into their scripts, as illustrations to accompany the words. There is no one set of storyboards, they evolve as the scripts do, with Will redrawing whole scenes or just single frames as the director makes changes or the scripts are adjusted.

When the Season 2 DVDs come out in February, they will include ‘Histories’ illustrated by Will. These extras provide a chance to explore the story and characters in more depth, to go into detail that the show can’t always delve into with so much happening every season. They explain how the Kingdom of Westeros came to be, the families and feuds that feed the wars and legends of things that lie out of sight, ready to be discovered again. Much as the storyboards help structure the episodes, these animations help tell the stories of the Kingdoms – and what lies beyond its borders.

Season 3: In Production

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

New locations, new sets, new cast members: get your first look at Season 3.