Hey so I have done some work on independent film productions over the years (mostly in post-production but on set I have done some special effects makeup and wardrobe work) and I’m going to use my experience to explain why we shouldn’t worry about the design of the Nilfgaardian armor for the Netflix series. Basically, you shouldn’t freak out because you haven’t seen the armor. Not really. While some pictures of actors in armor have circulated, the armor they’re wearing will likely look very different from what the final product will showcase as their wardrobe was designed with a specific filmmaking purposes in mind.
The Executive Producer of the show has clarified that the actors wearing the armor in the photos were deep background extras. And, furthermore, we know that their gear were not Hero Assets. A Hero Asset, in film, is a prop or costume that is going to be in the foreground of a shot or otherwise will be filmed up close. On a film set, they don’t design everything with the same amount of detail; they can’t can’t because what looks good closeup will lose a lot of what makes the design work in the distance. So the armor we saw specifically was designed with the LEAST amount of detail.
In-universe, what this armor seems to be is gear for footsoldiers, specifically low ranking infantry. We can assume that because of the materials and components; this screams cheap mass production (in-universe). What it appears to be is dyed leather, wrapped around some thin steel plate over a cloth gambesons. The ridges in the leather plate likely indicative of the fact that these weren’t tailored but rather were produced quickly and cheaply; the leather itself is likely ill-fitting. With the Hero Asset version of this armor, you can likely expect the ridges to appear much smaller and less pronounced with some cracks and patches to indicate wear & tear while on the match and subsequent field repairs.
Now as for why the background chestpiece was designed this way, I do have a theory but it is mostly speculative so take it with grain of salt. But my theory is that we’ll be seeing some large formations of the Black Ones and so the art department intentionally over-exaggerated the ridges in the leather to help distinguish the regular infantry from lower ranking field officers. Because if I were designing the gear for this army, I’d want there to be a clear progression in rank while also making sure that this progression is grounded in the same design philosophy. So my field officers would wear the same general armor as the infantry except their leather would be better tailored, without ridges with a few extra adornments. Maybe some field officers also have mail over their gambesons. But the issue is that if you were to just put the background extras in the same gear as the featured extras, once you get further in the background your army is just going to look like a blob of black as they won’t be entirely in focus. But you can give your background extras a more distinct look even from a distance and in less focus by exaggerating certain details like the leather ridges. Give the shot some consistent texture, as it were.
But if you wanted the Nilfgaardians to look like they did in the game, however, I have no reassurances to offer. We weren’t ever going to get that we the show has always been billed as an adaptation of the books only and the games are not canon to the books as far as the author is concerned.
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