There is one television series that got us all excited here at Escape Studios this year. I am sure you can already guess which one it is... Yes, you got it, it was The Game of Thrones. There have been many discussions and debates about it over coffee in our office. So much so, that I decided it was time we featured BlueBolt on our blog.
There is no doubt that BlueBolt are fast becoming one of the most respected boutique VFX facilities in London. In operation for a mere two years, they were the leading VFX vendor on the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Their involvement with this TV series has gained them Emmy Award recognition, as they join the list of nominees for this year’s awards.
Having launched in 2009 BlueBolt can already boast credits on high concept productions such as Warner Brothers’ Sherlock Holmes, Walt Disney Studios’ Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time and John Landis’ Burke and Hare. All three founders of the company [Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, Angela Barson and Chas Jarrett] brought with them an impressive resume of experience from their days at MPC. Aware of their background in VFX, it was Game of Thrones producer Mark Huffam who introduced HBO to BlueBolt to facilitate their VFX needs.
The budget was tight for VFX, but not by television standards. It was an ambitious project from the start. BlueBolt took on all the CG environments, CG creatures and matte paintings for this project. The team made early decisions on their approach to certain shots, what was a 3D build, what was a 2D matte painting. The majority of big environment builds were done as 2.5D projection. A good example of this is the work they did on Winterfell. They realised if they did some simple builds on key environments that could remain as matte paintings it would help further down the line. These simple builds allowed them to move the buildings around to get the layout working on individual shots and the lighting working on the original plates. An element shoot provided the blood spurts, snow, breath, which became invaluable in post for all the VFX houses involved.
George R.R. Martin [author of the Game of Thrones books] was heavily consulted in the early stages of the dragon design. George apparently had a lot of very well thought out and logical ideas of what a dragon should or should not be. References for the dragons were pulled from other movie dragons combined with visual references from the animal world: prehistoric, animals, reptiles, bats and birds. A giant file of notes and images was put together that the team could work from to model something organic. The team built only one model for all three dragons. All three were to be the same size but could differ by colouring and movement.
Time and the lack of it kept BlueBolt under pressure for the duration. With six weeks prep time and last minute re-writes leading to unbudgeted VFX requirements BlueBolt worked miracles to produce the high quality work that can be seen throughout season one.
What did you all think of the series? I'd love to hear your feedback.