HBO’s Game of Thrones was one of the hottest TV releases of 2011. Most of the series was shot in Northern Ireland. Once the filming was wrapped it was time to shoot the commercials to advertise the series. Local Photographer Rob Durston got me in touch with Hollywood agency BLTomato and Nels Isrealson to be camera op for the motion stills.
The motion stills are used on the streets, on bus shelters etc. with large video screens. The aim was to bring to life the poster artwork for the campaign by introducing small, subtle movements in the cast members. They are designed to look just like posters but also make people look twice when they see the movement.
We were allocated our own section of the Paint Hall studio for the motion stills, while Shane Hurlbut ASC was next door shooting the TV commercial. I managed to take a look at his set-up which was mind blowing, making use of both film and HDSLR cameras, while using 70,000 volt Lightning Strikes to create a storm indoors.
Onto the motion stills, we had Nels and his assistant taking the photos and setting up the flashes. We then replicated the same lighting using a mix of tungsten and HMI lights for the video. The light set-up took around 2 days to prep but it meant we didn’t have to keep the cast waiting around too long in the freezing cold while we got our shots.
I thought there might have been problems matching the flashes for the photos with the continuous lighting for the video but comparing the two side by side the final results seemed very close.
I was shooting using my Canon mounted 7D vertically to get maximum resolution for the portrait layout of the posters. The fast workflow setup meant I was able to quickly merge together the official poster backgrounds with the footage we had just shot to give the client an idea of what the final compositions would look like. Please note the dates in the motion still are incorrect as these are only mock-ups.
Even when taking no time at all to pull the blue-screen key in After Effects (video left) it was easy to see that the final version of the compositions would come together quite easily by spending a bit of time and masking around the throne. HDSLR’s are known for their low bit rate and this was a concern, but the shots were all locked off making the post production process easier.
All in all it was a great shoot to be on and good to see HDSLR cameras being used on such a high budget production. The low barrier to entry in terms of costs for these types of cameras has brought about a revolution in the film industry.