Animating the Secrets of Westeros

As the ‘Game of Thrones’ scripts are written, a story comes together on the page. Then the directors form a vision of how they want to tell that story on screen, which is when the storyboard artist comes into play. Working from the script and discussions with the director and DOP, the artist – in this case the amazingly talented Will Simpson – brings the first images to life. He will draw a series of frames that depict the action within a scene, indicating camera angle and focus and plotting out the order of the sequence.

The storyboards will be sent to all the department heads to work from, a map, if you will, of what is to come. Each director will use them differently; some will have the sequence pinned to boards while they shoot, crossing off frames as they are completed. Others will insert them into their scripts, as illustrations to accompany the words. There is no one set of storyboards, they evolve as the scripts do, with Will redrawing whole scenes or just single frames as the director makes changes or the scripts are adjusted.

When the Season 2 DVDs come out in February, they will include ‘Histories’ illustrated by Will. These extras provide a chance to explore the story and characters in more depth, to go into detail that the show can’t always delve into with so much happening every season. They explain how the Kingdom of Westeros came to be, the families and feuds that feed the wars and legends of things that lie out of sight, ready to be discovered again. Much as the storyboards help structure the episodes, these animations help tell the stories of the Kingdoms – and what lies beyond its borders.