Michele Clapton was costume designer for Game of Thrones’ first five seasons before she was replaced by April Ferry. Clapton will return to the show as costume designer for the seventh season.
The costumes used in the show drew inspiration from a number of sources, such as Japanese and Persian armour. Dothraki dress resembles that of the Bedouin (one was made out of fish skins to resemble dragon scales), and the Wildlings wear animal skins like the Inuit. Wildling bone armor is made from molds of actual bones, and is assembled with string and latex resembling catgut. Although the extras who play Wildlings and the Night’s Watch often wear hats (normal in a cold climate), members of the principal cast usually do not so viewers can distinguish the main characters. Björk’s Alexander McQueen high-neckline dresses inspired Margaery Tyrell’s funnel-neck outfit, and prostitutes’ dresses are designed for easy removal. All clothing used is aged for two weeks so it appears realistic on high-definition television.
About two dozen wigs are used for the actresses. Made of human hair and up to 2 feet (61 cm) in length, they cost up to $7,000 each and are washed and styled like real hair. Applying the wigs is time-consuming; Emilia Clarke, for example, requires about two hours to style her brunette hair with a platinum-blonde wig and braids. Other actors, such as Jack Gleeson and Sophie Turner, receive frequent hair coloring. For characters such as Daenerys (Clarke) and her Dothraki, their hair, wigs and costumes are processed to appear as if they have not been washed for weeks.
For the first three seasons, Paul Engelen was Game of Thrones’ main makeup designer and prosthetic makeup artist with Melissa Lackersteen, Conor O’Sullivan and Rob Trenton. At the beginning of the fourth season Engelen’s team was replaced by Jane Walker and her crew, composed of Ann McEwan and Barrie and Sarah Gower.
For the series’ large number of visual effects, HBO hired British-based BlueBolt and Irish-based Screen Scene for season one. Most of the environment builds were done as 2.5D projections, giving viewers perspective while keeping the programming from being overwhelming. In 2011 the season-one finale, “Fire and Blood”, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.
Because the effects became more complex in subsequent seasons (including CGI creatures, fire, and water), German-based Pixomondo became the lead visual-effects producer; nine of its twelve facilities contributed to the project for season two, with Stuttgart the lead. Scenes were also produced by British-based Peanut FX, Canadian-based Spin VFX, and U.S.-based Gradient Effects. “Valar Morghulis” and “Valar Dohaeris” earned Pixomondo Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
For season four, HBO added German-based Mackevision to the project. The season-four finale, “The Children”, won the 2014 Emmy Award for Visual Effects. Additional producers for season four included Canadian-based Rodeo FX, German-based Scanline VFX and U.S.-based BAKED FX. The muscle and wing movements of the adolescent dragons in seasons four and five were based largely on those of a chicken. Pixomondo retained a team of 22 to 30 people which focused on visualizing Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, with the average production time per season of 20 to 22 weeks. For the fifth season, HBO added Canadian-based Image Engine and U.S.-based Crazy Horse Effects to its list of main visual-effects producers.
Unusual for a television series, the sound team receives a rough cut of a full season and approaches it as a ten-hour feature film. Although seasons one and two had different sound teams, one team has been in charge of sound since then. For the show’s blood-and-gore sounds, the team often uses a chamois. For dragon screams, mating tortoises and dolphin, seal, lion and bird sounds have been used.
Main article: Game of Thrones title sequence
The series’ title sequence was created by production studio Elastic for HBO. Creative director Angus Wall and his collaborators received the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Main Title Design for the sequence, which depicts a three-dimensional map of the series’ fictional world. The map is projected on the inside of a sphere which is centrally lit by a small sun in an armillary sphere. As the camera moves across the map, focusing on the locations of the episode’s events, clockwork mechanisms intertwine and allow buildings and other structures to emerge from the map. Accompanied by the title music, the names of the principal cast and creative staff appear. The sequence concludes after about 90 seconds with the title card and brief opening credits indicating the episode’s writer(s) and director. Its composition changes as the story progresses, with new locations replacing those featuring less prominently or not at all.
Main article: Music of Game of Thrones
Ramin Djawadi composed the Game of Thrones score.
The music for the series was composed by Ramin Djawadi. The first season’s soundtrack, written in about ten weeks before the show’s premiere, was published by Varèse Sarabande in June 2011. Soundtrack albums for subsequent seasons have been released, with tracks by the National, the Hold Steady and Sigur Rós. Djawadi has composed themes for each of the major houses and also for some of the main characters. The themes may evolve over time, as Daenerys Targaryen’s theme started small and then became more powerful after each season. Her theme started first with a single instrument, a cello, and Djawadi later incorporated more instruments for it.
Main article: Languages of A Song of Ice and Fire
The Westerosi characters of Game of Thrones speak British English, often (but not consistently) with the accent of the English region corresponding to the character’s Westerosi region; Eddard Stark (Warden of the North) speaks in actor Sean Bean’s native northern accent, and the southern lord Tywin Lannister speaks with a southern accent, while characters from Dorne speak English with a Spanish accent. Characters foreign to Westeros often have a non-British accent.
Although English is the common language of Westeros, the producers charged linguist David J. Peterson with constructing Dothraki and Valyrian languages based on the few words in the novels; Dothraki and Valyrian dialogue is often subtitled in English. It has been reported that during the series these fictional languages have been heard by more people than the Welsh, Irish and Scots Gaelic languages combined.
Effect on location
Game of Thrones is funded by Northern Ireland Screen, a UK government agency financed by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund. As of April 2013, Northern Ireland Screen gave the show £9.25 million ($14.37 million); according to government estimates, this has benefited the Northern Ireland economy by £65 million ($100.95 million).
Tourism Ireland has a Game of Thrones-themed marketing campaign similar to New Zealand’s Tolkien-related advertising. Invest NI and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board also expect the series to generate tourism revenue. According to Arlene Foster, the series has given Northern Ireland the most non-political publicity in its history. The production of Game of Thrones and other TV series also boosted Northern Ireland’s creative industries, contributing to an estimated 12.4-percent growth in arts, entertainment and recreation jobs between 2008 and 2013 (compared with 4.3 percent in the rest of the UK during the same period).
Tourism organizations elsewhere reported increases in bookings after their locations appeared in Game of Thrones. In 2012, bookings through LateRooms.com increased by 28 percent in Dubrovnik and 13 percent in Iceland. The following year, bookings doubled in Ouarzazate, Morocco (the location of Daenerys’ season-three scenes). Game of Thrones has been attributed as a significant factor in the boom of tourism in Iceland that had a strong impact on its economy. Tourist numbers increased by 30% in 2015, followed by another 40% in 2016, with a final figure of 2.4 million visitors expected for 2016, which is around seven times the population of the country.