Although the visual effects team hated the idea from top to bottom of a zombie polar bear, Game of Thrones creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had been yearning for one for years, grueling process be damned — and they got their wish in episode 6 of Season 7, “Beyond the Wall.” This week’s episode of The Game Revealed, HBO’s show about the behind-the-scenes magic of Thrones, delves into the process and visual effects work involved in bringing the massive bear to life — er, back to life?
The clip is riveting, showing the layers of computer-generated effects that were added to the real-life work done by the actors and stuntmen. It adds up to the harrowing scene of low visibility and the threat of something that can’t quite be seen, which visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer calls “very much like a shark attack.”
However, while the end result on the screen was a snarling, undead, half-rotted polar bear tearing into the group that had ventured beyond the Wall, the practical aspects of filming were less than terrifying.
Kit Harington (Jon Snow) called the process “weird,” since the scene was filmed inside of what amounted to a gigantic green-screen box and there was little sense of direction. And everyone’s favorite Hound (Rory McCann) suggested it was hard to feel the proper sort of motivation for fear, considering the method that was used to create the “bear” while filming.
“I had people going all, ‘When I’ll come toward you, I’m a bear,’ ” McCann said of the stuntman who dressed in a green-screen suit and held a bear-shaped head on two poles. ” ‘No you’re not. Your name’s Toby.’ It was pretty weird, to be honest.”