Game of Thrones: Who Made the Iconic Opening Credits Sequence and How Did They Do It?

In a March 30th, 2013 guest post to Forbes, John Axelrod (an intern at Forbes) addresses 2 questions I've been dying to ask: Whose idea was it and how did they make the opening sequence to Game of Thrones?

Although he was clearly working for the creative team behind the show (including Executive Producer; D.B. Weiss, Executive Producer; Frank Doelger, Executive Producer; Carolyn Strauss, and Executive Producer and Author; George R.R. Martin), the one man most responsible for executing the title sequence is apparently Angus Wall - a name that (as John Axelrod correctly observes) deserves to be part of the show.  The digital magic Angus Wall's NYC-based firm, The Rock Paper Scissors group, creates is worth reading about in full in John Axelrod's article. You can even find out more about the ongoing work on the Game of Thrones title sequence by reading the Motionographer blog.

If you're curious about precursors to the flyover animated map that Rock Paper Scissors has constructed for Game of Thrones, you can also read about the maps that J.R.R. Tolkien first drew over 75 years ago to illustrate his novel, The Hobbit.  Even though he drew a map of Middle Earth that very well may have influenced George R.R. Martin and the creators of HBO's Game of Thrones, Tolkien himself was skeptical of illustrations and other visual adaptations of literature... writing in 1947: "[I]llustrations do little good to fairy-stories. The radical distinction between all art (including drama) that offers a visible presentation and true literature is that . . . literature works from mind to mind and is thus more progenitive. It is at once more universal and more poignantly particular."

UPDATE: APRIL 1, 2013   Since it is officially April Fools' Day, I see no reason not to post this delightful Simpson's parody of the Game of Thrones opening credit sequence. In fact, it might even provide a "teachable moment" for students of copyright law who are confused about whether you need permission to make a parody and who owns the rights to the parody. Thanks to Valery Cohn for the link:

Students of intellectual property law will recognize that Matt Groenig and Fox don't need permission from HBO to make a parody. As attorney Michael Donaldson explains: "[P]arody is an imitation [of] a work that comments directly on the work and therefore is allowed to take quite a bit from the work that is the subject of the comment" without seeking permission.

You should also know that a parody is a new copyrightable work. So (if you're criticizing or commenting on, at least in part, the previous work, and not simply going after the market for the original with your copy) even though you didn't get permission from the author of the underlying work (in this case the Game of Thrones music and images) you can make and distribute your version and prevent others from copying your "parody" version.

So Fox could come after people who make unauthorized copies of their Simpsons version of Game of Thrones - even though Fox never asked for permission to use Game of Thrones as the basis for the cartoon's opening sequence. Which might put me in a tight spot with Fox (because I've posted their version here). Except "fair use" is the broader exception to copyright law (that includes parody) which under certain circumstances allows for unpermissioned copying that transforms the underlying work into a criticism, commentary or an educational lesson like my postings here (see what the Center for Social Media is saying about the fair use statute and case law here).

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