CGI in TV series, a closer look

I have watched the series Marco Polo because of its CGI use as well as the way the titling sequence was made.

The Marco Polo series follows the early adventures of the explorer and his travels through the Silk Road to Kublai Khan’s court and ruling. It is 13th century China and Kublai Khan aims to become emperor of the world. The title sequence is unique, using visual metaphors (greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry) via ink drawing, derived from traditional Chinese painting.

The title sequence is made from ink painting and is mainly shot in camera, using an overhead projector. The images were hand painted in water onto paper, then Sumi Ink was dripped on the water drawing, spreading through the image, making it visible. High speed photo cameras were used to capture this. It was filmed in high frame rate due to the speed of the flowing of the ink, later in postproduction the speed was adjusted.

Watch the impressive title sequence here: Marco Polo Title Sequence

The CGI in the Marco Polo series is used to set the scene, making the village of Karakorum bigger, duplicate the crowds of Kublai Khan’s troops. Also 3D props were used and of course wire and rig removals of the Kung-Fu fighting stunts. Even the apple is added in postproduction.

A CGI breakdown of the series can be watched here: Marco Polo SpinVFX

It is not just Marco Polo using CGI, a lot of TV series are using CGI nowadays, including the popular Game of Thrones and Gotham. In Gotham VFX is used to extend the world created with Gotham, to help to tell the story. Where in the Game of Thrones CGI has a more prominent role.

Game of Thrones:


Worth mentioning is the first series to use CGI was the SciFi series Babylon 5, by J. Michael Stracznski,  that was running from 1994 to 1998.

Babylon 5 CGI footage: 



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