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My friend thinks the sword forging scene at the beginning of the 4th season of Game of Thrones was CGI (it certainly was picturesque with the flames dancing along the flow of molten steel). But I would like to believe it was real footage, maybe touched up but mostly real. I couldn't find any information regarding it.

How did they shoot the scene? Were any effects used at all, or was it completely natural?

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This is really more of a trivia question. Does it really matter if the sword forging process was actually real or done with CGI? What does knowing that contribute to understanding the show or episode as a whole? –  MattD Apr 8 at 13:09
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I think it is a very valid question prodding the mechanism involved in the creation of the particular scene. Understanding a film-technique does not count as trivia! –  KeyBrd Basher Apr 9 at 14:19
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I'm astounded at that comment, and at the 3 upvotes it has. If this gets closed I'm taking it to meta. It CLEARLY says in the "About this site" that it's okay to ask "Questions about a Movie/TV show's production." So go ahead, argue that one. And anyway, the vast majority of this site is "trivia," wtf would you call it? –  Aerovistae Apr 9 at 14:22
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I'm a nihilist. Don't start the "at the end of the day it really doesn't matter" argument with me, or pretty soon we're going to be debating why you bothered making the comment in the first place, or bothered to join SE, or they bothered to make SE, etc...I mean...at the end of the day, what does it really matter? We'll all be blown to stardust in the long run. MEANWHILE, I for one want to know how that scene was made. –  Aerovistae Apr 9 at 19:59
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The use of CGI (particularily when rendered so convincingly, if this is indeed CGI) is a key indicator to budget. The fact that the season opens with the sequence is also of some significance; at the end of the day, this question is marginal, and we should only be shutting stuff down that Clearly doesn't belong. We're supposed to help people not police them: thats why M&TV has gone so quiet of late, people are shot down way too quickly. Abide it. –  John Smith Optional Apr 10 at 9:57

1 Answer 1

Most likely, the scene is a mix of real shots and special effects, but all of the cool parts are special effects.

For reference, here is an image of the scene in question (I was unable to upload it to SE due to the file size being too large).

Heating of the sword

The glowing effect is CGI. I say this because the sword has a consistent yellow and orange glow to it.

During this kind of metal-smithing, the metal is usually somewhat unevenly heated. Because of this, you end up with a red color on the edges, and if heated enough, parts of the metal turn white as well.

Also, notice how fast the glow happens. As we pan down on the sword, it slowly turns orange, but then all of a sudden the brightness increases dramatically. This just wouldn't happen in real life.

The fire on the other hand does look real. Fire, as a particle system is notoriously difficult to render realistically. It would be pretty cheap and simple just to light a couple small fires underneath the surface that the sword is laying on.

Pouring the steel

A Foundry Ladle is used as a container to melt the steel, then pour it into the mold. Typically, they are made of metal, ceramic, or concrete materials. In other words, heavy materials that are resistant to heat. But, you can clearly see ladle in this scene is glowing through the sides. To get that kind of glow, the ladle would have to be a light semi-opaque material. Then, the glowing would be accomplished by placing lights inside.

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This answer is purely conjecture, and doesn't definitively answer how the scene was made. –  MattD Apr 11 at 13:09
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Unless someone from the production comes across this question, that's all we're going to get. It does, however, answer the question Were any effects used at all, or was it completely natural? –  Darrick Herwehe Apr 11 at 13:44
    
Right, so we may have to wait for some production notes or a video that shows the special effects composites in some way to know if it was all CG, or they actually forged the swords, or if it was a mix of both. And no, it doesn't answer it because you're merely taking a guess as to how things were done. –  MattD Apr 11 at 13:59
    
I've reduced the scope of my answer to provable facts available in the video. –  Darrick Herwehe Apr 11 at 14:47
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@MattD - Nothing wrong with a bit of speculation, especially when it's backed up with facts. –  System Down Apr 11 at 16:56

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