Game of Thrones Emmy-nominated visual effects team on the challenges of Season 7

Caption

This image still tortures me, but probably not as much as the logistics tortured the ‘Thrones’ visual effects team.

Not surprisingly, at least in my humble opinion, Game of Thrones led the 2018 Emmy Awards with a stunning 22 nominations. As in previous years, the nods the series pulled in included visual effects, which is not exactly shocking for a series laden with magic, an army of ice zombies and three full-grown dragons. But as the stakes for Westeros climbed higher and higher, Season 7 found itself faced with visual effects challenges the likes of which it hadn’t seen in its first six, and the VFX team had to step up.

“[There were] a number of very difficult things that we had never done before,” Emmy-nominated lead visual supervisor Joe Bauer recently told Variety. “Fortunately, they all worked out.”

Bauer and lead visual-effects producer Steve Kullback earned nominations for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for the penultimate episode 6, “Beyond The Wall,” which drew some of the most iconic creatures and creations of the series thus far into one episode, from Dany’s dragons to the White Walkers, the army of the undead, and the much-hated zombie polar bear.

The most daunting part of the visual effects work on the episode was, according to Variety, the dragon-flying rescue on the frozen lake. It involved “a plethora of elements, including actors, stunt teams, real-world environments shot with helicopters and motion-controlled cable rigs, a rock quarry set-dressed as an ice pit, weather, CG’d elements including … Drogon, the play of dragonfire against icy backdrops, and some 500 extras multiplied to comprise the 10,000-body Army of the Dead.”

“There was hardly a shot that wasn’t visual effect,” Kullback told Variety. And unfortunately for the team, “This year they DIDN’T cut the zombie polar bear, so we really had to knuckle down and figure out how to do it.”

What will Season 8’s visual effects team have to grapple with? We’ll have to wait until the first half of 2019 to find out, but in the meantime, we can tune into the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 17th to find out if Bauer and Kullback—along with the series’ other nominees—take home top honors.

44 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. ASNAWP

      They’ve continued to raise the bar while taking massive steps in seasons six and seven. They almost have to go bigger for the final season don’t they?

        Quote  Reply

    2. Clob,

      F*ck it. They should go full-on Dark Sister ASNAWP fantasies and have Arya leap mid-air from the back of a dragon onto NK flying undead Viserion, and stab NK through the eye and out the back of his skull with her VS dagger.

        Quote  Reply

    3. Zombie polar bear was alright. It was trying to believe that the ol NK had that kind of throwing arm that defied logic.

        Quote  Reply

    4. Pigeon:
      Zombie polar bear was alright. It was trying to believe that the ol NK had that kind of throwing arm that defied logic.

      Faceoff: NK with ice javelin vs. Sandor with dragonglass baseball. 100 yards apart. Who wins?

      My money’s on the Hound, the Lord’s Chosen.

      #F*cktheNightKing
      #DumbC*nt

        Quote  Reply

    5. Ten Bears: Faceoff: NK with ice javelin vs. Sandor with dragonglass baseball. 100 yards apart. Who wins?

      My money’s on the Hound, the Lord’s Chosen.

      #F*cktheNightKing
      #DumbC*nt

      Yup. Sandor calmly takes a step left (or right, whatever), the delivers a line drive to ol NK’s noggin. *bonk*

      *500 years pass….*

      “Ooh dad, please tell us the story again of how the whole conflict in Westeros and threat of the White Walkers was resolved with a smartass remark!!!! Pleeeeease?????”

        Quote  Reply

    6. Edward:
      Pigeon,

      As someone already said, I don’t think it’s that far fetched for a being that can lift humans from death to have a great throwing arm!

      Pffft…he didn’t even use his core as base strength! And he can’t even deal with water. I tells ya! 😉

        Quote  Reply

    7. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in season 8. But it better as sh*t include dire wolves! Nymeria and her pack to the rescue. Ghost fighting alongside dragons. It’s high time for wolves! 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    8. Pigeon:
      Zombie polar bear was alright. It was trying to believe that the ol NK had that kind of throwing arm that defied logic.

      It didn’t look that illogical to me, BUT I agree that logic is needed. Explaining things away with “well he’s just magic” I find quite cheap. It was kinda like when John Bradley was asked why Sam was still fat when he got back to Castle Black, and he was like, “THAT’S what you find unbelievable?!” xD I thought, “Well now John, it is certainly possible for Sam to remain fat, you’re right…but there’s no suggestion that human bodies work differently in Westeros than they do in our world just because things exist in Westeros that don’t exist here…so the question was valid…”

        Quote  Reply

    9. Shelle: It didn’t look that illogical to me, BUT I agree that logic is needed. Explaining things away with “well he’s just magic” I find quite cheap. It was kinda like when John Bradley was asked why Sam was still fat when he got back to Castle Black, and he was like, “THAT’S what you find unbelievable?!” xD I thought, “Well now John, it is certainly possible for Sam to remain fat, you’re right…but there’s no suggestion that human bodies work differently in Westeros than they do in our world just because things exist in Westeros that don’t exist here…so the question was valid…”

      I had to laugh at that, since I am of similar…erm…build…to John Bradley (well, I’m taller, and a girl…ok maybe closer to Brienne), but honestly the things that some people say to others that they don’t know. John actually isn’t that big but when you’re padded and standing next to Kit, sure. So I get where the fan was coming from, like you said (traveling on foot for miles, rationed food, etc) but also get the “oh, sod off!” feeling. 😂

      Viserion and Rickon both really did need to learn to zig zag…

        Quote  Reply

    10. Pigeon,

      I don’t understand. Why did the fan question that Sam was still overweight when he [Sam, not the fan] got back to Castle Black? Unless Sam had been walking all days for months while subsisting on rationed food, his jaunt wouldn’t make a dent in his … insulation layer.

      If traveling on foot for a couple of weeks and rationing food were enough to melt off 75 pounds, that would be “unbelievable.”

        Quote  Reply

    11. Pigeon,

      Viserion and Rickon both really did need to learn to zig zag…”

      ——————–
      As demonstrated by our beloved Super Ninja Assassin Warrior Princess, dodging, feinting and sidestepping can make all the difference between life and death.

      [Q in Ygritte’s voice): “What’s ‘feinting‘?”
      Arya: “It’s making a deceptive or distracting movement, typically during a fight.”]

      I would imagine that even if Rickon had escaped from the Umbers in mid-S6 and eluded recapture, he would’ve died from a cerebral hemorrhage when he showed up at Winterfell in mid-S7:

      WF Guard: “Where you going?”
      Rickon: “In there. I live here.”
      Guard (snickers) “F*ck off.”
      Rickon: “I’m Rickon Stark. This is my home.”
      Guard #2 (snorts): “Rickon Stark’s dead.”
      Rickon: “Send for Maester Luwin or Ser Rodrick. They’ll tell you who I am.”
      Guard: “There’s no Rodrick here. Maester’s named Wolkan.”
      Rickon: “Go ask Jon Snow, then, the King in the North. He’s my brother.”
      Guard: “He’s a thousand miles away.”
      Guard#2: “Look, it’s cold and we’re busy, so, you know, best f*ck off.”
      Rickon: “If Jon’s gone, who’s in charge of Winterfell?”
      Guard: “The Lady of Winterfell. Lady Stark.”
      Rickon: “Which Lady Stark?”
      Guard: “You tell us. You’re the one impersonating her brother.”
      Rickon: “Tell Sansa her brother’s home.”
      Guard: “Lady Sansa is too busy to waste her breath on you, just like us. So, for the last time, f*ck off!”
      Rickon: “I am your liege lord! I command you to let me into this castle! If you don’t let me in right now I’ll have both your heads on a spike!”
      Guards (guffaw): “Ha ha ha.”

      (Guard #1 balls armored fist, aims roundhouse punch at Rickon’s head. Rickon doesn’t duck or dodge. The blow catches him square on the temple. He falls backward, and cracks open his skull on the icy cold ground.)
      Guard #2 (looks at lifeless eyes; kicks body; no movement): “Umm…I think he’s dead.”
      Guard #1: “No worries. Just another Winter Town orphan boy. C’mon. Help me put the little pr*ck on the pile with the corpses of the other imposters.”

        Quote  Reply

    12. Ten Bears: If traveling on foot for a couple of weeks and rationing food were enough to melt off 75 pounds, that would be “unbelievable.”

      Well, I’d definitely give it a try.

        Quote  Reply

    13. Pigeon: I had to laugh at that, since I am of similar…erm…build…to John Bradley (well, I’m taller, and a girl…ok maybe closer to Brienne), but honestly the things that some people say to others that they don’t know. John actually isn’t that big but when you’re padded and standing next to Kit, sure. So I get where the fan was coming from, like you said (traveling on foot for miles, rationed food, etc) but also get the “oh, sod off!” feeling.

      Viserion and Rickon both really did need to learn to zig zag…

      Haha, yeah, I totally get that…it couldn’t have been the best question to get, “Why didn’t you lose weight?” xD; Even though the reasoning was fair enough. But we get what he’s been through well enough without that happening; it wouldn’t necessarily be inevitable for everybody, and like you say, with the bulky outfit it might not even be obvious anyway.

      Maybe they hadn’t meant over a short period but more in general why he hadn’t gotten thinner, but anyways…

      And amen to that last bit–remember to zig-zag, it could save your life! ;p

        Quote  Reply

    14. zandru: Well, I’d definitely give it a try.

      I have. You can exercise vigorously for five hours a day and subsist on a <1,000 calories a day diet of celery, egg whites and water, and it'll still take at least six months to lose 75 pounds. Any rapid weight loss over the first couple of weeks (some call that "water weight") soon levels off. After that, there's no way to significantly accelerate the process. There's no substitute for the passage of time.

      Besides, it's not as if Castle Black had a treadmill. Sam had a difficult time keeping up during treks beyond the wall – which was how he found himself hiding under a boulder and staring at the mounted White Walker way back in S2. Graveyard shifts manning the top of the Wall, huddling indoors to avoid the bitter cold, and other daily routines of NW brothers aren't exactly fat-burning cardio exercises.

      Nobody should fat-shame Samwell Tarly. His d*ckhead father did that. Ridiculing rarely works.

      Sorry for rambling. I just don't understand why a fan would ask why Sam hadn't gotten thin.

        Quote  Reply

    15. Ten Bears: I have. You can exercise vigorously for five hours a day and subsist on a <1,000 calories a day diet of celery, egg whites and water, and it’ll still take at least six months to lose 75 pounds. Any rapid weight loss over the first couple of weeks (some call that “water weight”) soon levels off.After that, there’s no way to significantly accelerate the process. There’s no substitute for the passage of time.

      You’d also do major damage to your metabolism and your body would recognize it was being starved, which doesn’t work in your favour. I hope you didn’t actually do that – I lost 45 pounds in a month and a half awhile back and believe me it wasn’t on purpose and I don’t recommend it!

      Sam may also have undiagnosed thyroid issues, and should supplement with desiccated White Walker thyroid when available.

        Quote  Reply

    16. Sam (JB) is lighter than he was in S1. I don’t know how much lighter but he is noticeably thinner now than the beginning, especially his face. He was pretty round in his first scene.

        Quote  Reply

    17. Pigeon,

      No, I didn’t actually do that. And yes – the body recognizes it’s being starved and “takes its foot off the gas”, slowing weight loss. I guess my point is that it’d take Sam months to get thin, no matter how far he walked or how little he ate.

        Quote  Reply

    18. Fuck the direwolves and zombie polar bears! Its the White Walkers riding the ice spiders that I’d like to see :p

        Quote  Reply

    19. Ten Bears:
      Pigeon,

      ….Which brings me to my second-favorite topic and a question:

      How does Sandor eat ALL the time without getting fat?

      Well you see, it’s all a matter of weight ratio! A 250 pound Houndie cannot just eat one chicken. Of course this also depends on whether it’s a Eurasian or African chicken…

        Quote  Reply

    20. Clob: It takes a lot of calories to swear that much. 🙂

      😆

      Well, and since he uses slightly less hate to keep him going now, he needs alternatives.

        Quote  Reply

    21. Pigeon,

      Pigeon, there’s an activity (closed during month of August) for retired and semi-retired people I attend and we started talking about swallows (I forget the exact context) and I piped up about was it a European or an African swallow. Trouble was, I forgot the exact wording and said “relative density of a swallow” when of course in the original it is an “unladened swallow”. But we just had a laugh about it. One lady in the group said “I miss
      Monty Python”.

        Quote  Reply

    22. Dame of Mercia:
      Pigeon,

      Pigeon, there’s an activity (closed during month of August) for retired and semi-retired people I attend and we started talking about swallows (I forget the exact context) and I piped up about was it a European or an African swallow.Trouble was, I forgot the exact wording and said “relative density of a swallow” when of course in the original it is an “unladened swallow”.But we just had a laugh about it. One lady in the group said “I miss
      Monty Python”.

      Oh, I like the sound of your group! 😊 Monty Python really is one of those little joys in life – whenever I throw in a quote in a conversation, it’s always kind of a bond if someone in the bunch immediately recognizes it. 😁

        Quote  Reply

    23. Viserion and Rickon both really did need to learn to zig zag…

      Seriously though, how dumb would it have looked if Rickon had just started zig-zagging his way to Jon lol. Would have ruined the dramatic moment.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Black Raven:
      Fuck the direwolves and zombie polar bears! Its the White Walkers riding the ice spiders that I’d like to see :p

      If I don’t see a White Walker riding a dead Golden Company elephant into battle in season 8, I will be majorly disappointed.

        Quote  Reply

    25. Ten Bears:
      Clob,

      F*ck it. They should go full-on Dark Sister ASNAWP fantasies and have Arya leap mid-air from the back of a dragon onto NK flying undead Viserion, and stab NK through the eye and out the back of his skull with her VS dagger.

      As Arya said, “I’d like to see that”

        Quote  Reply

    26. Undead Elephant: Seriously though, how dumb would it have looked if Rickon had just started zig-zagging his way to Jon lol. Would have ruined the dramatic moment.

      Yep. And since the story needed to have Ramsay kill Rickon, he would have shot him anyway even if he was zig-zagging, so there would have been no point in having Rickon do that. It makes for some amusing memes I suppose..

        Quote  Reply

    27. Undead Elephant: Seriously though, how dumb would it have looked if Rickon had just started zig-zagging his way to Jon lol. Would have ruined the dramatic moment.

      Whenever I think of the advice to zig-zag, or just avoid a linear escape, I have an alarmingly clear picture of myself running from a couple of dangerous mob types, leaning against their shiny black car, guns aimed. I am dramatically weaving back and forth and getting only about 10 feet further away every minute or so. Mob guys look at each other, eyebrows raised. I continue the bizarre pattern. Mob guys start playing cards. Zig zag. Mob guys doing laundry. Zig zag. Mob guys solving crosswords. Zig zag.

      It all ends not because I get shot, but because I lay down 50 feet away, completely exhausted and dizzy.

      It wouldn’t have mattered what Rickon did, Ramsay is just too good of a shot.

        Quote  Reply

    28. I think the person had just expected Sam to have become more noticeably leaner as a result of the all extreme weather, forced exercise and fighting and danger, more limited food, etc.
      Sandor, well, I guess he works it off walking, riding, fighting, cussing, hating on people, eating more chickens…x~)

      I would’ve been impressed with Rickon if he’d done something to try and evade the arrows. >p<

        Quote  Reply

    29. Clob:
      ASNAWP

      They’ve continued to raise the bar while taking massive steps in seasons six and seven.They almost have to go bigger for the final season don’t they?

      Even Season 5 with Hardhome was a massive step. Watchers on the Wall from Season 4 was pretty spectacular too. Neither of those battles had dragons though.

        Quote  Reply

    30. Damn, this same story’s still at the top of the news page?

      Feels like he’s been aiming that ice javelin for an age …. :^/

        Quote  Reply

    31. Pigeon,

      “Oh, I like the sound of your group! Monty Python really is one of those little joys in life – whenever I throw in a quote in a conversation, it’s always kind of a bond if someone in the bunch immediately recognizes it.”

      Indeed. Especially when nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

        Quote  Reply

    32. Stark Raven’ Rad:
      Pigeon,

      “Oh, I like the sound of your group!Monty Python really is one of those little joys in life – whenever I throw in a quote in a conversation, it’s always kind of a bond if someone in the bunch immediately recognizes it.”

      Indeed. Especially when nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

      Or, in Mance’s case, the Stannis Inquisition!

        Quote  Reply

    33. Pigeon,

      It really does nerf the dragons almost completely. It the NK can just one shot every dragon with a magical ice spear then the war should be over quickly. It may not be the case since there are what 6 episodes. Humanity has to put up some kind of fight? But anyhow this scene always gets an emotional response from me and I’m never aware that it’s all CGI. This team is honestly amazing.

        Quote  Reply

    34. Ten Bears,

      How long did he walk though? The NW walked all the way to the FotFM then fought the WW then walked to Crasters and from there to the wall. That’s a lot of walking. I’ve been a mail carrier for about four months and have lost 60 pounds and I still eat like a fat kid. I was probably a bit less than Sam. Realistically Sam should be nearly ideal weight when he gets back to CB.

        Quote  Reply

    Jump to the Top

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *