How did the project come about?
Richie from the Merkins contacted us. You know.. the channel behind the funny viral hits like Slashstreet Boys - 'I'll Kill You That Way', Leatherface - 'Friends with no Faces' and most recently, Baker and Odell- 'A Whole New Land'. The idea was to create a parody video of The White Stripes - 'Seven Nation Army' with White Walkers from Game of Thrones. The motion graphics were more technically complicated than anything The Merkins had done in the past, so they asked us to contribute on the technical side.
Were you a Game of Thrones fan before the project?
I hadn’t seen more than twenty minutes of the show, so once we had the greenlight on the project, I started binging all seven seasons before we released the video (two weeks before the start of season 8), and managed to finish all of it! Not the worst homework assignment I’ve ever had.
How was the project handled?
After The Merkins finished writing and producing the song, the entire ‘Seven Kingdom Army’ team attended a green screen shoot at The Rialto Theatre in Akron. The Merkins captured various angles, costumes, and lighting schemes (constant light, strobe lights and flickering with the beat - done by Ryan Keeper from Sequential Image Productions). Eric and I attended as visual effects supervisors to make sure we wouldn’t run into any technical issues down the road.
Then I started editing and developing the motion graphics. The first task was getting the motion of the triangles correct. I tried both 2D and 3D layers, but ultimately decided on doing 2D layers that scale up. All of the layers are then parented to a master control that can additionally scale the layers, giving a quicker feel to the movement. Once I had the motion down, it was all about picking the correct performances and keeping it interesting by adding other GoT elements such as house sigils and 3D armies of White Walkers, which were all created by our very own Eric Anderle.
Were there any technical challenges?
The drum sticks were a little difficult to key because of the shutter speed and their natural motion blur. It certainly helped that we downgraded the final video to give it a standard definition look. The Night King’s head is also very tall and narrow in the show compared to our mask, so we had to stretch his head out in post.
What was it like seeing this video get over 13 million views (between platforms)?
It was pretty incredible. When we released it, the viewership started out slow, but within a week or so, it started to gain some serious traction. Along with the views, it had thousands of really funny and clever comments. We had several people reach out to us about the process of creating a ‘Seven Nation Army’ style video, so hopefully this blog post helps them understand the process a little bit better.
What did you learn from the project?
Organization and upfront work really paid off. The first thing that I did was to render out all of our best takes with transparency, color correction, and stretching of the Night King’s head. I also synced each take to the music, so that the first frame was the start of the song. That way, I could drop in footage at any time, and I didn’t have to worry about syncing it to the music. I could even duplicate verse one into verse two, move all of the footage to the start of the song, and have a great starting point for editing that verse. Using the pre-rendered footage was also a lot easier than it would have been to use footage that we had to key, color correct, and sync. In the end, we had 520 moving layers!
Watch Seven Kingdom Army:
BTS Courtesy of The Merkins:
Do you have more questions? Comment below...
Brandon Dohner · Fix It in Post