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Game Of Thrones Season 4

Montreal-based VFX studio Rodeo FX joined the prestigious team of Game of Thrones and created more than 150 visual effects shots for the fourth season of this acclaimed TV series. Broadcasted by HBO, the 10-episode series reached its peak with a breathtaking finale that aired on June 15, 2014. Week after week, Game of Thrones reaches more than 7 million viewers in United States only, a record audience.


In addition to creating the city of Meereen, the largest and greatest of the three great city-states of Slaver's Bay, Rodeo FX was responsible for generating in CG the massive army that attacks it; a memorable and striking scene. The Montreal-based company also designed a series of spectacular matte paintings, as well as creating a zombie-horse, altering physically some of the characters, simulating atmospheric effects, contributing to numerous wolves’ sequences, etc.


Sébastien Moreau, President of Rodeo FX, is extremely proud of this collaboration to one of the most popular TV series of recent TV history. “We could not ask for a better show for our first experience in TV series. We really have the feeling that we entered the high-end TV series industry in a big way” says Moreau, who acted as Executive VFX Supervisor on the series. “The visual universe that was established during the first three seasons is spectacular, with a level of quality that is just exceptional. We knew what the expectations were!”, adds Sébastien Moreau.


Reputed for their outstanding matte paintings and CG environments, the Rodeo team, led by VFX Supervisor Matthew Rouleau, was in charge of creating the city of Meereen, a new environment in season four. The impressive city-state, seen on many occasions during the season, was entirely created in 3D. The pyramids, front portal, walls, towers, golden statue, as well as the entire architecture are the result of Rodeo FX work.


Charging at this fortress are the Unsullied troops, another creation of Rodeo FX. The team modeled, textured and animated the thousands of 3D soldiers that launch the attack on the fortress. The catapults, the barrels projected towards Meereen, as well the soldiers handling the weaponry are also computer generated.


Another major contribution of Rodeo FX is the White Walker sequence. In this memorable scene, a White Walker riding an undead horse finds a baby -the last son of Craster-, sets him on an altar and turns him into a White Walker. The undead horse was partially achieved in 3D, as its neck and muzzle were computer generated. This scary creature is meant to be a decomposing horse that was preserved in ice. Rodeo FX modellers and texture artists were able to achieve this terrifying look by degrading physically the animal, and creating holes and cavities that allow to see inside its neck and mouth. Furthermore, the icy and mountainous environment where the sky is filled with aurora borealis is another virtual decor that was entirely created by Rodeo FX.


Without a doubt, the most complex and challenging sequence achieved by the artists at Rodeo FX is an epic battle involving thousand of horse riders set in a full CG environment. “The Stannis attack sequence will probably remain as one of the most memorable moments of season four”, says VFX Supervisor Matthew Rouleau. “…for the viewers and for the team too! These shots gave us the opportunity to face unprecedented technical challenges”, reveals Rouleau.


In this scene, it was important to convey the impression that one side of Stannis’ army was leading an attack against the wildlings camp, located in a forest on the North side of the wall. For these shots, some live action elements were used, in the form of multiple takes of cavalry. But since the army needed to be much larger, CG cavalry was created with cloth sims, hair sims and proprietary crowd simulation tools. Particle and fluid simulations were also created to generate necessary interactivity between the snow and stampeding army. Footsteps left in the snow by horses and people were also all digitally created. The ice wall seen in numerous shots is a full digital set extension, CG trees were also added, and we replaced the sky and ground plane as well. All in all, the crowd sim was put to the test in greater detail in this scene because the animated assets needed to react intelligently to surrounding trees, tents and campfires so as to not intersect in any way.


Given the remarkable result and the smashing visual impact of the Stannis attack sequence; Rodeo FX artists can proudly claim victory!


Studio : HBO

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