My short bio: I've been in the industry for the last 15 years and have worked on GOT, True Blood as well as small bits from Band of Brothers. I'm also working on some side projects when I find free time (which I don't have a lot of).

Somebody from another thread that compared VFX shots from a movie asked me to do this AMA so here we go.

If anybody is wondering how I have the time to do an AMA, Reddit is an VFX artist's best friend while rendering.

AMA about how specific scenes were done, the industry, or how VFX artists get treated in the industry, etc...

My Proof: Imgur

Comments: 181 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

ClassyCritic34 karma

How difficult is VFX in GOT? It doesn't seem to use too much but there are several scenes. For example: How difficult was having Daenerys' dragon burning the master in one of the free cities?


My boss always said if you don't notice CGI, you did a great job. So I'll take it as a compliment. Truth to be told, there is a vast amount of VFX and CGI involved in GOT. Even if it's just duplicating a row of tents or adding a fog over a battlefield, it greatly changes the atmosphere of the whole scene.

Take a look at this video: It's Season 1, but still applies. Small things like snow, green screen background, ground textures, etc. are all heavily manipulated and edited by us.

I didn't work on the master-burning scene but a different team did, but by the looks of it, it seems like there was a lot coffee and arguing involved.

TheSupremeFace31 karma

One of the upcoming episodes for GoT is said to be VERY CGI intensive. Now I won't say anything to avoid spoilers, but..

  1. Were you involved in this?
  2. How long did it take to complete the event (is it even complete?)
  3. Hodor or Hodor?
  4. Since you wander on reddit a lot, favourite subreddit? (I won't judge...)


-Yes -Months -Hodor -/r/programming, /r/polandball, /r/vfx

Uriniass28 karma

Have you ever noticed any actors hitting on each other?


Ha, there was an outtake were Kit Harington 'wrestled' with John Bradley-West. Sadly, wasn't allowed to edit or use it...

EDIT: Thought you said 'hitting' each other, not 'hitting on' each other. Silly me.

LukaNieto24 karma

What was the reason for completely redesigning the Eyrie in Season 4, comparing to how it looked in Season 1? There have been discrepancies in the look of the Red Keep in the past, for example, but last week's redesign of the Eyrie was certainly the most noticeable. What was the reason behind it? I like the newer one better, but why abandon a consistency of design?


I can't really go into detail about it, but the team responsible for the buildings decided we need to refresh the castle because somebody finally finished the last book and thought the old look didn't fit anymore... This crap constantly happens.

lartrak22 karma

Do they ever have you alter the actor's physical appearances for non-obvious reasons? Like to fix makeup, continuity errors, or to change their physiques in some way?


Yes, Kit Harrington for example had a scar he received when he hit a prop and we had to remove it in every scene.

fabulousbaker20 karma

Do you also put A-113 in your works?


I don't think I'm even close to the skill level of those guys that do


What was your favorite show to work on?


By far, GOT.

scirn30812 karma

What makes game of thrones so much better than the other great shows you have worked on?


The sheer volume of the show and all the different plots and side stories give a lot of material for FX and are the core of the show in my opinion. Also, the fantasy setting really helps a lot (since we never had a true fantasy TV show before).

scirn3086 karma

Thanks for answering. Also what type of education do you have to have to do your job?


I believe I answered this somewhere in this thread.

obi-wan-kenobi-nil11 karma

Are you a fan of the show, and does your working on the production influence you watching in any capacity?


I absolutely adore GOT. Working on it made me love it even more.

wabawanga11 karma

How hard would it have beem to go back in post and make emilia clarke's eyes purple in every scene?


It's easy, but it would take some time.

wabawanga8 karma

Thanks so much for answering! This was a pretty hotly debated topic at around season one.


No Problem!

stefanski11 karma

Hey, I'm a student in 3DVFX, i want to ask you a question, well, do you use commerical program to make the vfx or you have your own program/engine? How is it any different in the final result? Pardon for bad english


We have in-house software that I (sadly) cannot tell you guys about. Other software includes Photoshop, After Effects, and a whole series of Autodesk products (Maya, Max, etc..). We also have a customized render software and a server farm.

RachelMaddog10 karma

What's the most boring, normal thing you've had to create for a show?


Dust particles, smoke, and the sky.

skippy-dee-doo-da8 karma

When a vampire dies in True Blood how do you guys make that exploding fountain of gore?


There is a lot of work involved. I was part of the first VFX team that had the task to plan and design some shots for TB. We actually filled a balloon with red-colored syrup to simulate blood and popped it and then worked from there.

skippy-dee-doo-da2 karma

Yeah some of those syrups looked disappointingly fake, like too clear to be real blood. Which vampire death did you work on?


I partially worked on Steve Newlin's death (I think that was his name) and created the fire and skin burn animation. It ended up looking too cheesy but we hit the dead line already and couldn't redo it.

hardlyw0rking8 karma

Are you working directly for HBO and doing effects in house? I thought pixomondo is doing all the vfx stuff for GoT.


I partially work for them. HBO does have in-house artists.

Wack-a-Jack7 karma

Which vfx crew do you dream of working with?


Working for HBO is already pretty great. However, if I could choose, I would work for Weta Digital in NZ. These guys make incredible things, including The Hobbit, Spiderman, and LOTR.

londonbeckett7 karma

On Game of Thrones, what was the most difficult VFX shot you've worked on?



Hmm, that's a tough one. I didn't get to work on the really complex animations and models such as Daenery's dragons but I did get to work on Ned Stark's beheading, Joffrey chocking to death, the (I believe it's called that) Blackwater battle, and some White Walker effects (such as the environment freezing, which was really cool).

londonbeckett11 karma

--WARNING: SPOILERS-- Man, you really went all out on Joffrey. When I read it in the book, I thought he just chocked with a blue face and passed over. Not like the horrible way he went in the show? Venting much?


Ha, my team was actually really, really happy when we got the memo that it's our task to animate and design the choking, cause we all really hated that little bastard (I mean, who doesn't?). Working with Jack Gleeson and the Sound Department for the choking sound was creepy but also really fun. Kinda sucks that Jack will be gone now.

Kettlebot12 karma

Just curious, I've seen mentions that the damage done to Jack's face was very realistic. Were you guys using real reference images?


Yes, like with most stuff we do. We always try to make it as realistic as possible (except, ya know, the dragon parts).

Kettlebot2 karma

Brilliant work, seriously. It was one of the greatest moments in the show, mostly because of how gruesome it was. I felt sick for hours afterwards and it seriously made me question how I felt about his death. All of that is good, by the way. I love being emotionally impacted from a TV show like that. Brilliant work.



campermortey5 karma

Where do you think VFX will go in the next 10 years? If you think about how far it's come in the last 10 years it's shocking so I was wondering if you had a prediction for the next decade.

Loved what you guys/girls did in Band of Brothers! My favorite miniseries of all time.


I believe there will be a lot of change - similar to what we saw in the last years. This include new software that is capable of doing more, new hardware that should be able to render much faster with better quality, and better tools to help us develop even more realistic, life-like effects.

With almost every movie moving towards VFX and CGI instead of traditional effects, the industry will grow much larger and be more saturated (with good and bad talent).

Personally, I'm hoping that I'll somehow get to work on FX for the oculus rift but how realistic that is I'm not sure.

campermortey5 karma

Thanks for the answer! Best of luck to you and thanks for doing great work.



TheMemoman4 karma

Be honest, apart from it meaning work, visually, what do you prefer in movies:

Digital blood splatters or squibs?


Both! They both can be fun depending on the scale of the effect.

DrOpossum3 karma

What was the sort of education/training you had in order to get to your position?


I was extremely lucky in that I was hired directly out of college. I have a degree in Animation & Visual Effects and basic high school education.

Kettlebot3 karma

As someone with no experience with VFX, but has a decent computer, where should I start? Any programs you recommend?


Look at some YouTube tutorials, download Final Cut Pro or Affects Effects (software that is the industry norm). Learn how to use it, then move to modeling with e.g. Blender or Maya.

mancouver1 karma

1995 called, they want their tools back


It still is relevant and fantastic software. These are good for learning; professionally we use Nuke.

treapor1 karma

After Effects is great to start with, a lot of tutorials and easy to get the hang of. But If you want to get in serious and professional vfx, after effects does not keep up. You should look in to these programs,

3D: Maya, Modo, vray(rendering)

Compositing: Nuke


This might surprise you, but we used After Effects a lot when working on GoT - it's a powerful little beast.

treapor1 karma

I can imagine, what have you used it for? 2D and prep? I have worked as a compositor for a while but have never used AE for things other than motion graphics. The movies I have worked on have used Nuke, it fits better in our pipeline. Ones you get the hang of nuke it is very effective.


It's mostly for prep and to sketch a specific fx tha we than later re-create using Nuke or with our own software.

Normalsinglewoman3 karma



I was originally born in Germany and then moved to the U.S. in my teens. A friend of mine worked at HBO and told me a position was open.

Normalsinglewoman2 karma



I was born in Munich. There is indeed little critism of GOT. I believe the show definitely has some flaws, but less than others. For example, the story does grow complex and it is tough to follow the books accurately (wouldn't necessary call it a fatal flaw).

I have never worked on movies but would really like to.

Normalsinglewoman0 karma



I only do animation and effects for GoT, so I have no idea what R.R. stands for, haha. I do believe that GoT somewhat does represent life - we have the evil rulers that only care about themselves, the peasants (middle class), and the ones trying to fight for a better life and future.

Und ja, ich kann immer noch Deutsch sprechen! Koenntest du bitte ein bisschen genauer beschreiben was du in deinem letzten Satz meinst?

Normalsinglewoman1 karma



Ich benutze einfach meinen normalen Namen. Ich glaub ich bin noch nicht gut genug um ein Pseudonym anzunehmen :D

kingofcrob3 karma

hows your work/life balance out in the industry? did some vfx classes back in my uni days and hours were brutal


Hours are brutal and most likely will be in the future. There are days were I don't see the sun or sleep at the office. Stress and pressure are also very high. But I still love doing it.

BCouto2 karma

How many hours are you doing a week? Is there paid overtime? Do they at least provide a place to sleep when you stay at the office? :P


I work more than 12 hours a day and also a lot of time during the weekend, so it'd say about ~80 hours - there's really no time for a private life. Overtime is (mostly) paid, and HBO does pay better than other studios. The problem with VFX industry in general is the fact that there are no unions, little regulation, and barely any recognition from other industries, but you have to learn to deal with that in order to do what you love.

BCouto2 karma

I work more than 12 hours a day and also a lot of time during the weekend, so it'd say about ~80 hours

Is this the norm? Or only during crunch time?


The industry standard is 9-10 hours. However, with HBO constantly producing new series, episodes, and shows, there's a lot of work to be done, so crunch time is every day, haha.

SaheedChachrisra3 karma

I hope they pay you well enough for 12 hours a day. Work half a year and get on vacation for the second half of the year, haha.


I can make up to $2,000 a week if it's a lot of work.

styx319892 karma

For that kind of money I would work non stop too...


It's rare that I ever get paid that much in a week.

Sharkdart3 karma

BoB is one of the greatest cinematic releases of our lifetime and will probably be watched by our grandchildren. At the time the VFX were incredible, I remember staying up late in middle school and watching Lt. Winters stand in the door of the plane just before the jump into Normandy. I was awe struck back then, I still remember it perfectly. Now not so much, could the series VFX be revamped? If so would you want to? Would HBO ever consider it?


I would definitely want to do it, but I have no idea if HBO did. If they did, it would be widely successful.

cheezburga3 karma

What kind of time, effort and tool go into the Vfx of a beheading such as the beheading of ned stark? What would you say is the most difficult part of the process?


Clipping, cropping, and masking is tough if we don't have a green screen available. It's hard to get it to look good, but we have decent software that takes care of that part. By far the most hardest thing about for example Stark's beheading was getting the blood splatter and the color of the blood correct. Our team even watched real-life beheadings (which was pretty morbid and depressing) to see how the blood would look and where it would come from.

thigmotaxis2 karma

What was your favourite scene/shot to work on, from any of the productions you've been involved in?

Thanks in advance!


Probably parts of the parachute scene from BoB... or Nikolaj stabbing a guy in the eye.

en1mal2 karma

Good day Sir! I'm currently trying to get into art school to study filmmaking. The school offers a VFX master degree in the 2nd year what really hooked me up. VFX is one of 6 directions you can go, and you have to do 2 at least, and VFX is only availiable as a master degree so i have to start with someting else. Making the right choice gives me a hard time, i thought about starting with "Producing" ( - and do the VFX in the 2nd year, like its supposed to, so i end up with a master degree in both. The other 4 main directions availiable are, camera, dramaturgy, direction, and cutting. Since im more the camera guy i first wanted to do camera, but now i think in hinsight of the practical work i thought producing would be a better choice. Im glad you're doing this, have a great day! ( sorry with the weird names for the different classes, im german, and i dont know the professional english expression for each)


I'm German too, haha. Good luck!

en1mal1 karma

How you made the jump off europe, my finances let me doubt i'll ever be able to. Ok, babysteps, lets finish the school first :)


It was luck! My dad found good work in the US and we followed along.

TarzoEzio11 karma

Do you like Game of Thrones?

What the longest cgi project on HBO shows you ever worked on, and why did it take so long time to finish?



The longest was probably shots from Kings Landing, dragons, and Daenerys army.

TarzoEzio11 karma

Do you sometimes watch Game of Thrones and say "Danm i did a good job on that" ?


Not a lot, because I work on teams and it's basically the whole teams work. I do say: "We did a great job on that"

readitinpast1 karma

Thanks for all your answers, I've really enjoyed reading this AMA!

Have gold from me :)


Thanks, you're awesome!

SnaIKz1 karma

Hey, im doing short "edits" on youtube and my plan was to study vfx and try to work in the film or game business, do you have any tips for me? and also what exactly is your area, are you more involved into special effects or into generel video editing like colour correction/grading, etc. ?


One tip: don't rush it. Make sure it looks as good as possible depending on your skill level. Look at the environment the Fx are in and than adapt the shot to that. Level of detail needs to be high.

skippy-dee-doo-da1 karma

What do you think is the best on screen dragon of all time?


Smaug in the original cartoon version of The Hobbit.


How did you first get interested in VFX? And then how did you go from getting into the VFX to to working on big shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood?


As a kid, I always loved fireworks and making movies, so I kinda grew up with it. I attended a good college and took more classes on VFX and a friend (who already worked for HBO) told me they were searching for a VFX specialist and I applied. That was about ~15 years ago. My first project was BoB.

eshap5621 karma

Assuming you have the books what scenes do you think will be the hardest/most fun to work on in the future?


I'm really looking forward to Tyrions journey to the city states... I love doing ocean stuff

NormalityFlower1 karma

what has been the highlight of your career so far? Or is it too difficult to pick one particular job or scene that you worked on?


I have truly done a lot work, even if the number of projects I have worked on seems low. My breakthrough and my proudest achievement is most definitely GoT, just because it's such a fantastic and popular, well-received show.