VFX Supervisor: Joe Bauer
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Studio: HBO
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Release date: 12/04/15

"We love helping create the fictional world of this great show and having the privilege to be on site to interact directly with the VFX team. We look forward to working again with Joe and Steve so we can continue to perfect our pipeline."

− Sébastien Moreau, President of Rodeo FX

Rodeo FX completed nearly 200 visual effects shots for Season 5 of Game of Thrones for which it has, once again, been nominated for an Emmy Award. The VFX studio used its expertise in animation, digital matte painting, and crowd simulation to create key sequences from scratch, including the destruction of the Harpy statue atop the Meereen temple, the eerie Smoking Sea of Valyria, and the ancient city of Volantis. Rodeo FX has extended and deepened its work for the show, for which it won an Emmy for Season 4.

Meereen Destruction

The first episode of Season 5 shows the destruction of the Harpy atop the pyramid that Rodeo FX created last season for the fictional world of Meereen. A group of the Unsullied has tied ropes to the golden statue and pulls it down. The Harpy topples, sliding down the massive structure, smashing bricks and throwing up sand in its wake, before it lands on its side on the ground. The scale is massive, with huge objects colliding, throwing up chunks of brick and dust.

Old Valyria – Ruins built from the ground up

With a bound and beaten Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) recovering in the hull of his small open sailboat, Jorah (Iain Glen) steers toward the ruins of Old Valyria on their way to Meereen and Queen Daenerys. The mood of the scene in Episode 5, “Kill the Boy”, is heightened by the Smoking Sea, mist off the water, and the collapsing ruins of once-great buildings. All of this closes in on them as they approach an aqueduct topped with what appear to be stone statues.

The city of Volantis – Invented from a bridge flyover

Rodeo FX built the city of Volantis, a new environment on the show in Season 5. The VFX studio developed the whole city completely in CG, including the crowds. Working from a live plate using a Roman bridge in Córdoba, Spain as a stand-in, Rodeo FX created the buildings and market on the bridge, as well as the background matte painting. The team modeled everything in the scenes, including gutters, roof tiles, and windows.

Ongoing collaboration with Bauer and Kullback

Rodeo FX recently opened an L.A. office and already is seeing the benefits of bringing an experienced team on board so close to Hollywood. As the VFX business has become global, it’s essential to maintain a real connection with one’s colleagues, wherever they are. The proximity to the HBO VFX team meant that Ferrand could communicate in person with Bauer and Steve Kullback, VFX Producer on Game of Thrones, something that contributes to the success Rodeo FX continues to enjoy on Game of Thrones.

“We love helping create the fictional world of this great show and having the privilege to be on site to interact directly with the VFX team,” said Sébastien Moreau, President of Rodeo FX. “We look forward to working again with Joe and Steve so we can continue to perfect our pipeline.”