Avoiding A Comedy of Errors In Your Own “Game of Thrones” Production

Making a film is almost always a group effort, which in many cases can work to your advantage, particularly in complex Sci-Fi or Fantasy productions that require many different teams with very different and specific skill sets. On some of these projects it seems there is truly strength in numbers when you have a cast of thousands—even tens of thousands—providing you with the essential manpower to produce a make-believe world conjured up by the director and producers that is perfect, seamless, magical and free of any outside references to the real world.

Except when that doesn’t happen.

A Mistake in the House of Stark: A Starbucks coffee cup was accidentally left in the scene during filming and was never removed until after the episode aired. Note: This screen grab was captured on May 6, 2019, at which time the Starbucks coffee cup was still visible in the footage.

For example, say a mistake has been made: Someone leaves their cup of coffee on the set, and it gets left in the show during the filming, isn’t discovered and remains in the footage all the way through to the final cut. Which is exactly what happened during the most recent episode of the “Game of Thrones” saga on HBO, which the New York Times points out, is “one of the most expensive and elaborately produced television shows ever.”

Yet, all that money and manpower couldn’t keep the “Game of Thrones” fans from overlooking a Starbucks coffee cup—perhaps a tasty Starbucks Blonde Caffè Americano–that had been accidentally left on the table during the beginning of a celebration scene in Winterfell, the home of House Stark.

Well, I wonder if the fans might still have noticed if it was a pricey cup of Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino or Starbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème. Nevertheless, the alien cup appeared and its presence visually confounded fans who were only expecting mugs, goblets and horns to hold their characters’ beverages.

But how might the filmmakers have avoided this problem…aside from decreeing that all branded and non-branded coffee drinks were now forbidden on the set?  

Well, according to Adobe, if the GoT episode had been made today, the post-production editors could have used the new content aware fill in Adobe After Effects to get rid of the drink, whether it was a Starbucks Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato or Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte. It wouldn’t matter which drink it was! Even if it was the largest Strawberry Frappuccino Blended Crème drink sitting upon the Iron Throne!

Using the content aware fill should allow the post editors to remove it from the footage. In fact, Jason Levine, a principal worldwide evangelist for Adobe, was able to make the cup disappear using Content-Aware Fill for this video, which he posted on Twitter.

A Miracle in the House of Stark: This screen grab was captured May 7, 2019, at which time the cup was no longer visible in the footage. The “Game of Thrones” production team removed the cup in post-production, perhaps using the content-aware fill feature in Adobe After Effects.

Of course, if you wanted to see the video now, you won’t be able to see it on HBO. They’ve just edited the coffee cup out of the scene, roughly two days after the episode first aired! So, perhaps, after all, they did use Adobe’s new content-aware fill to correct the footage. For more on this feature, check out this youtube video from Adobe …which, in case you were wondering, features no obvious mentions or depictions of Starbucks beverages.