» Alik Sakharov (Game of Thrones) – ANALYZED CINEMA
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Alik Sakharov (Game of Thrones) – ANALYZED CINEMA



One of the best cinematographers I’ve seen is Alik Sakharov, who works on Game of Thrones. I’m not completely sure if he has others that help him, but from what I’ve researched, it’s his work. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you may notice how most of the shots seem to be unexplainably beautiful. Sure that has some to do with the wardrobe, actors, etc, but the way it is presented to you as a final image is the cinematography. And composition plays a huge role in it. Let’s see how Alik Sakharov arranges this complex scene to tell his story in a visually simple way.

Rule of Thirds – The rule of thirds can’t attempt to organize a designed scene like this.


Rebated Square – Starting to locate some objects with a couple of diagonals and the vertical.


Root 3 Rectangle Basic Armature- As we covered in the dynamic symmetry article, the size of this cinema screen is very close to a root 3, so we can use it to compose our scene. Right now we are finding the sinister diagonal lining up the two women on the left and the dock angle on the right. The horizontals and vertical is lining up.


Root 3 Armature with Major Area Divisions (Medium MAD) – with the Medium MAD in place we can see even more lining up to a simple grid. The characters arm, the middle of the screen lines up their waists as well as the rock formations.



Root 3 Armature with Major Area Divisions (Small MAD)-for fun I broke it down even further into small MAD showing the boat and other angles locking in. For filmmaking it’s not necessary to break it down this far. Is Alik using a grid? Who really knows. But by using it to analyze his work, we can see how he constructs his scenes, which certainly reflect the compositional skill that design promotes. Imagine if you had a huge grid overlay on a 32″ monitor to help line up your shots. In this case, small MAD would be perfectly fine…it’s just a bit too much for the small LCD screen on your camera.


Locked into the Grid – Many items of importance are locking into the grid.


Coincidences – some nice coincidences creating movement in the composition.


90 degree – here’s a couple of hidden 90 degree angles being used.


Arabesque – plenty of movement, especially with that swooping arc from the top right. And what’s this, a center composition with movement? Thank you arabesque!


Ellipses – Did he get lucky on this ellipse shape? Quite possibly. But it’s there, which means if he didn’t plan it, his experience has allowed him to notice unspoken movements…what some may call intuition….not something that is reliable.



Figure Ground Relationship (FGR) – the characters are clearly defined except for when the areas of contrast grow similar, like the right side of the male characters robe (I forget his name).


Black and White Blur (BW BLUR) – an abstract design being created by the tonal scheme.


Greatest Area of Contrast (GAC ) – As proven in this particular scene, the two characters in the middle are speaking, so they are the most important part of the scene. The GAC is located where they are, so that completes his composition.


Edge Flicker (EF) – He keeps the edges clean and free from any high contrasting elements.


This should begin to show you how design can also be used in cinema. If you haven’t already, I recommend you check out Game of Thrones…the composition alone is worth the watch.

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