DEFINITION June 2019

DRAMA | GAME OF THRONES

ABOVE Jonathan Freeman, one of the cinematographers for Game of Thrones, hard at work on Season 8

GEAR CHOICE For Jonathan Freeman, the biggest technical advance for Season 8 was the use of virtual reality in creating and changing virtual sets before they were even built. (There is more on this in ‘Game of Thrones With Help From VR’ on page 40.) But previous seasons have always shown a certain amount of consistency in the choice of equipment. Freeman explains: “On Game of Thrones , we have always used the Arri Alexa camera. The original pilot was shot on film, and there were a certain number of people – including the cinematographer Alik Sakharov – who wanted to carry on using film. However, HBO encouraged the production to at least test the Alexa camera, which they did, and realised that it was pretty darn good – which was my response, too.” He continues: “The Arri Alexa was the first camera where cinematographers felt confident it was a pretty comparable camera system to film. Then, of course, you got the benefits of digital cinematography, which are more challenging for film. For our show, with the turnaround for VFX and everything else like location work and trying to find a film lab (which is

W hen the two American producers David Benioff and DB Weiss first read George R R Martin’s novel, A Game of Thrones , their enthusiasm to turn the books into a TV series lead them to HBO, and resulted in a pilot shot on film. This unaired pilot was apparently not well-received, but it was reshot on digital with many changes to the script and characters – and finally morphed into episode 1 of the first season. The rest is a murderous, humorous and generally horrible history that we all know and – mostly – love. Technically, the story of Game of Thrones from this stuttering start was one of investment in the image. As the series picked up plaudits and audience, investment was made to making the series into the VFX epic that Season 8 has given us. The episodes settled into a pattern, with certain directors chosen for certain types of drama; battles were someone’s forte,

while more wordy episodes attracted others. Cinematographers were then matched to those directors and ADs. Definition interviewed two of the Game of Thrones DOPs, Jonathan Freeman and Fabian Wagner. Freeman shot nine episodes of the series – the first in 2012, up to Season 8’s finale – while Wagner shot eight episodes, from 2014 to two of Season 8’s episodes, including the ‘storm in a teacup’, controversial The Long Night episode – but more on that later. The Arri Alexawas the first camerawhere cinematographers felt confident it was a pretty comparable camera system to film

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