'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Intro Opening Credits Are "20 Times" Larger
Millions of Game of Thrones fans who tuned in for the Season 8 premiere on Sunday were treated to a big surprise: The iconic opening, redone. While still set to Ramin Djawadi’s classic theme, the titles now illustrate the White Walkers closing in on Westeros while recapping some of the most important events of the series since Season 1. The new Game of Thrones Season 8 intro is also a technical feat that couldn’t be accomplished when the show began.
On Monday, Angus Wall and Kirk Shintani, of the graphics studio Elastic based in Santa Monica, California, told The Ringer that the Season 8 intro is so much bigger than original Season 1 intro in terms of raw data. Ok, but how much bigger?
“I don’t know the exact number,” Shintani said, “but Season 8 compared to Season 1 is probably 20 times, 25 times larger. It’s a little gnarly. We’re talking about a lot of data.”
Much of the data can be attributed to the intro’s new use of interior exploration. Rather than surveying kingdoms and lands from the outside, the opening credits now sweep inside castles, dungeons, and other famous spots in Westeros — including the throne room where the Iron Throne is kept.
“[W]e basically had to throw everything out and start over from scratch in order to go from the outside to the inside,” Shintani said. “We didn’t reuse anything from the previous seasons. Season 2 through 7 it was more of an editorial exercise of updating shots and keeping some of the stuff we had done prior, but this one is all brand new, so it was kind of flashbacks for the crew to Season 1.”
The new intro is made by Elastic, a major graphics studio responsible for some of the best title sequences on TV. In addition to Thrones, Elastic has also done titles for True Detective, Westworld, the DC Universe series Doom Patrol, and almost all of the Marvel/Netflix shows, including Daredevil, The Punisher, and The Defenders.
And in case you need a reminder that time is a cruel monster, Elastic began working on Game of Thrones a decade ago, after HBO acquired the rights to George R.R. Martin’s novels in January 2007.
“Ten years ago is eons in technology terms,” Shintani pointed out in the interview.
He added: “The updates to the software have been mind-boggling. We’re using basically the same packages, but just the execution of it is so much easier to get super detailed. Season 1, we were afraid we were going to fill up our servers because the size of the stuff was so big because we had so many moving parts.”
In the lengthy Q&A, Shintani and Wall also revealed how the astrolabe — the big, spherical thing with three bands that used to tell the origins of Westeros — was updated to recap some of the most important moments in the series.
Instead of the ancient history of Westeros, the astrolabe now tells of the birth of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, the Red Wedding (though to me it looks like the Battle of the Bastards?), and the destruction of the Wall by the Night King using his totally sweet ice dragon.
“So in Season 8, we actually updated all of the bands,” Shintani said. “And they all reflect stuff that’s actually been in the show to kind of show that it has been a long time and there has been significant events that have transpired in the show that need to be recorded down in history. So for us the hardest part was figuring out which three events to highlight because there’s pivotal moments in the show.”
Lastly, it’s pretty obvious why the new intro ends with the Iron Throne, the literal seat of power that drives the story engine of Game of Thrones. As Angus Wall told The Ringer, “It made sense” to show “in an ultimate way, that’s where the whole show is heading. It’s like, that’s the seat of all power.”
As Game of Thrones nears its final hour on HBO, television audiences will bid adieu to one of the most thrilling title openings in the history of the medium. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Luckily, you can always just watch it again.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.