Game of Thrones Blu-ray extra video: Creating the mammoths and giants

mag the mighty

The latest addition to the Game of Thrones season 4 video extras to come out features a rather large topic: the creation of the mammoths and giants in “The Watchers on the Wall.”

Released via USA Today, the video includes Neil Marshall, D.B.Weiss, Mark Stanley, and more weighing in on what it took to make the stunning special effects in season 4’s epic battle episode come to life.

The Game of Thrones fourth season Blu-ray/DVD comes out February 17th. Check out the video below the cut!

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    1. I did find the Giants as giant people to probably be a good idea. In the books, I think that GRRM modeled them on the mythical Yeti. I think that might have distracted viewers.

      I do wonder to what extent they will cast giants in a sympathetic light, or if they will even get a chance. Giants obviously are not cheap, and it’s a small issue in the grand scheme.

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    2. Wimsey,

      It was a small moment and I know this is totally subjective and may sound silly, but Mag the Mighty’s roar and his subsequent rage after his kin died was utterly heartbreaking to me. I hope we get a few more scenes like that. Hardhome’s concept art implies we will see some giants, but will we get to actually know any of them? Hope so.

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    3. Luka Nieto,

      Oh, yeah, that scene worked really well: without English words, you could see Mag being driven by the death of his fellow giant. It also worked well to show that the Wildlings are a diverse bunch of people: even the scary and nasty ones are scary, nasty people, not White Walkers or wights!

      I was referring to the giants being a nearly extinct people, and clearly facing the prospect of imminent extinction. That comes up a little in the books. Obviously, it is a small detail, and an expensive point to try to make, so I wouldn’t count on it coming up on TV.

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    4. Luka Nieto,

      Totally agree about Mag’s agony when he saw his kin die. It was a small (well to the extent that related to giants could be characterized as small) moment that conveyed a much greater history, and was further augmented by Mance Raydar eulogizing Mag (“the last of a bloodline that stretches back before the first men”) when he falls later against Grenn (who came from a farm). A perfect example of how you economically illustrate the rich, texture and deeply tragic history of this impossibly vast world.

      I’ve said this before, but I really would love it if Game of Thrones would do a cover of “The Last of the Giants” at some point in the next three seasons (ditto for “The Dornishman’s Wife”). As great as “The Rains of Castamere” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” are, we don’t need any more covers of those two songs.

      If you look closely at the script for 409 that flashes by around 5 seconds into the video, you can see that they actually gave Mag the Mighty’s cousin a name in the script: “Dongo the Doomed“. Ha. I actually think Dongo is a fine name for a giant. Some people might take exception to the “Doomed” moniker, but hey, let Benioff and Weiss have their little joke. From a practical standpoint, this is clearly a similar case to characters like “Gordy” and “Master Eaton” from the upcoming season – a minor character who would otherwise go unnamed gets an amusing, possibly slightly anachronistic moniker in the script so that the writers don’t have to constantly refer to the character as he/she/it. All in good fun.

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    5. It’s cool to see the Mag actor riding a mechanical rig… maybe that’s how they’ll shoot

      dragon riding?

      I always wondered how they were gonna do that.

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    6. Jared,

      We’ve just gotta have “The Dornisman’s Wife” this season, right? Sung by Bronn on the way to Dorne. I mean… it’s perfect. Jerome Flynn is a singer too, after all.


      Yeah, that’s how they usually do it in movies. Whenever a character is riding a CGI creature, they have the actors ride a green-covered mechanical bull.

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    7. Luka Nieto,

      I think so. It’s too good to pass up. And we may have some circumstantial evidence that it could happen.

      Didn’t the leaked audition scene for Tyene Sand begin with Bronn singing some kind of song, prompting the Sand Snakes to praise his voice but mock his fighting skills? Knowing his wry sense of humor and the circumstances he finds himself in, what other song would he be singing?

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    8. Luka Nieto:

      We’ve just gotta have “The Dornisman’s Wife” this season, right? Sung by Bronn on the way to Dorne. I mean… it’s perfect. Jerome Flynn is a singer too, after all.

      THIS! Great idea, Luka! Would love that!

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    9. How come they didnt send like 5 mammoths and 10 giants to hit the wall instead of 1 or 2?

      Also, where were the rest of the mammoth/giants when Stannis showed up?

      Seems like the wildlings also were on a budget!

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    10. Voice of Reason,

      Of course they were. Everything is on a budget. Still, it made sense within the story to send only two groups: climbers; and small group to storm the gate, including the mammoth and the two giants. It’s not like having more mammoths, giants or men would’ve benefitted them at all. They couldn’t do any damage to those atop the wall, except for giant archers.


      Didn’t remember that! Then I’ll be pretty much expecting Bronn to sing it.

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    11. Bott,

      I’m really scared they’ll skip the part of Daenerys riding Drogon to the Dothraki Sea, I don’t want this to happen, her time there and her meeting the Khalasar are really important plots imo , but with all the changes who knows… 🙁

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    12. Balerion The Cat,

      they won’t skip any dragon riding because they planned to put dragon riding in Season 4… but budget. That’s why there’s an awkward Targaryen flag on the pyramid of Meereen. It was supposed to be Dany on her dragon. That’s also why Drogon had a massive growth spurt between 3 and 4.

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    13. Balerion The Cat,

      They’ve made changes to the plots, but not to the stories. Given the magnitude of this, they will either keep it or substitute it with something comparable.

      Sometimes I think that some fans believe that adapters just change things in order to irritate the fans. Adapters don’t: when they make changes, it is because they think that the best way to tell the story on screen is different than the way it was done in a book. Sometimes that means altering plots, among other things!

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    14. Luka Nieto,

      Budgetary reason and all, I don’t know, it’s just a feeling that I have. And it’s not that I think they’ll skip the part where Daenerys meets the Dothraki again, just find another way to make her do that. Anyway, I do want it to happen and I really hope it will (one of my favorite scene in ADWD)

      I guess I’m also trying to keep my expectations low so I don’t get dissapointed.


      How do you know that?

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    15. Balerion The Cat,
      Given that the budget has greatly expanded, that probably isn’t an issue. Indeed, part of the reason why the budget is bigger is because they asked for more $$$: and they would do that only if they had expensive things in mind.

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    16. Balerion The Cat,

      Definitely found out from this website (or WiC if it was that far back) but I couldn’t link you, I’m sure a more hardcore fan could

      the bit about about Drogon’s growth spurt is just logical conjecture btw

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    17. They said in one of the behind the scenes videos on season 4 episode 9 (Marshall might’ve been the one to have said it) that they originally had a lot more mammoths and giants, I forgot exactly how much but it was closer to double digits. They just obviously couldn’t do all that from a production stand point

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    18. I wonder if anyone next season or the season after will be able to say Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun with a straight face.

      Looking forward to seeing more giants this year!

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    19. Bott,

      I don’t think they’d use a similar technique for dragon riding, purely because the mechanics of a dragon differ from a mammoth.

      With the rig we see in the video, it’s easy to replicate the movement of a large mammal limited to the ground. However, a dragon is not a mammoth. They have a limitless sky as their terrain of movement, and as such, I would expect more drastic movements than the slow and lumbering movements of the mammoth rig.

      If it’s simply a shot where Dany is flying in a straight line on top of Drogon, a rig might work. Any variation in movement from that will require something else, most likely CGI in my opinion.

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    20. Speaking of dragons & FX…Has anyone ever come across any info or Q&A with the showrunners regarding the “dragon shadow over KL” tease that we got last year around this time? Obviously, that FX shot wasn’t used during the season (we thought it could have been a Bran vision) but I wonder if it was meant to symbolize anything other than the obvious?

      Also, I wonder if it will be included in the S4 Bluray set?

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    21. My season 4 blue ray with Martell cover just shipped from best buy!

      I think I will be getting it a few days before it becomes available on the 17th 🙂

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    22. Dutch maester,

      The Dothraki warrior has been confirmed to be a pit fighter. The actor was sighted during filming long before we heard about the casting, so when we saw a photo of the actor we pieced it together.

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    23. Hodor’s Bastard: Egad. I guess I misremembered that. Thx.

      I had forgotten that, too, until my annual binge watch. Bran sees a lot of the things that he sees in his book visions in that little scene, with some substitutions.

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    24. If the Dothraki scene is skipped and the Battle of Meereen truncated into a Daznak’s Pit climax with the Sons of the Harpy being the main enemies, then I see episode 9 (and MAYBE Dany’s season?) ending with her and Drogon landing on top of the pyramid where the Harpy once sat. Drogon roars at the rest of Meereen and it cuts to black.

      I do feel like there needs to be something else so hopefully we’ll get another Meereen scene after Daznak’s though. So it’ll be interesting to see if Dany is there for that.

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    25. Still, the most intriguing thing in Meereen this season is what exactly happens to Barristan and Grey Worm between Dany’s wedding (where we see them presumably accompanying her) and Daznak’s (where they are nowhere to be found).

      It does not appear that Yunkai plays much of a role in putting the city under siege (Tyrion and Jorah make their way to Meereen through other means, Yezzan is Meereenese, not Yunkish, no Tattered Prince/Brown Ben etc). They appear to be mentioned near the start of the season and obviously Hizdahr and Daario return from their negotiations but I’m skeptical they aren’t anything more than a passing issue. Like a threat about marching on Meereen unless certain things happen but no action is actually taken.

      The Sons of the Harpy seem to be the only threat and they provide the actual attack in the climax. I had thought that maybe Barristan and Grey Worm would be hostage exchanges as Daario and others were in the books. But Barristan being the one to go there seems like a stretch so I really don’t know.

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    26. Mormont:
      Balerion The Cat,

      they won’t skip any dragon riding because they planned to put dragon riding in Season 4… but budget. That’s why there’s an awkward Targaryen flag on the pyramid of Meereen. It was supposed to be Dany on her dragon. That’s also why Drogon had a massive growth spurt between 3 and 4.

      Eh… No. You don’t know what you are writing about.

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    27. King Tommen:

      That is intriguing indeed, and I’ve got a theory. Here it goes…

      Obviously the fact Ian McElhinney was directing a play is not the reason he isn’t in Daznak. Those scenes are planned months and months in advance, so there’s no way he would say: Sorry guys, can’t do this one. So, Barristan isn’t there because the story demands him to be somewhere else, or the story demands him to specifically NOT BE at Daznak. The latter seems very plausible, given the fact that Tyrion is sitting next to Daenerys and Barristan would no doubt recognise him straight away, which means that isn’t what the writers want. That means the writers had to think of a way to have him be somewhere else…

      A scene was shot with Barristan and Grey Worm in front of the dragon dungeon ‘door’. So here’s my theory: Fearing that the Sons of the Harpy will aim to release the captive dragons when everyone’s attention is on the pit, Daenerys orders Barristan and Grey Worm to guard the entrance. Then, in the climax of the ninth episode, the Sons simultanuously attack in Daznak and in the dungeons, sort of taking Quentyn’s place by releasing the dragons. In this fight, Grey Worm gets wounded/killed by the Sons/a dragon, while Barristan gets a heroic moment. The two dragons escape while the third brings chaos in Daznak. BOOM! (oh and in episode 10, Grey Worm dies of his wounds like Quentyn, to the horror of Missandei. Seems like a clever idea to build up that relationship beforehand. Oh, they did. Clever guys.)

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    28. King Tommen,

      If Selmy is not around Dany, then something is wrong and of concern to me. He is sworn to protect her Targness and I doubt he will go on some long-term mission outside of Meereen. We know that Dany sent Daario south to deal with the uprisings at Yunkai/Astapor and he seems to have returned intact. So, he either brought trouble back with him or has even more disturbing news to report. If Selmy is not around Dany during Daznak’s, then something disturbing has happened between the point Daario returns to Meereen and Dany’s wedding. Selmy kidnapped?

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    29. Wimsey:
      King Tommen,

      Given how little we’ve been shown, we really cannot draw many conclusions about most of those things.

      I base much of my conclusions on casting and we’re at the point in this show that I can be very assured that by now, if we haven’t heard about a character (who isn’t the equivalent of a featured extra with a line or two that sometime sneaks through), then they aren’t in the season.

      I can confidently say that S4 did not have any speaking characters appear on screen that we had not had sussed out by this point. Whether it’s the casting calls (who may not have actors even discovered yet) or the dribbling out of actor names the past few months, I think we’ve accounted for 99% of the characters who will play a part this season.

      And I don’t see any Yunkai envoy or representative. At all. So unless the Yunkai army is just some faceless, commanderless entity sitting outside the gates, I can conclude that they won’t be a factor this season.

      I realize that there are things that some people believe need to happen in order to fit how they think the books/show will go but that’s an even more speculative enterprise since no one is privy to that future knowledge on these forums.

      I like to use the evidence on hand to draw conclusions. I find that has a much higher success rate in predicting how the season will play out.

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    30. Hodor’s Bastard:
      King Tommen,

      There are pics of Barristan and Grey Worm escorting Dany in her white gown (which most have assumed is for her wedding). She’s wearing the same gown at Daznak’s so the assumption is that not much time has passed between them escorting her and her ending up at Daznak’s (at most an episode I would think). Somewhere between that time, they both go MIA.

      Also, the leaked script for E1 indicates Daario and Hizdahr get back from their Yunkai mission at that point to report on the trouble there. So you won’t have long to wait to see them again.

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    31. Dutch maester,

      I just saw your response. Very interesting. I don’t know why Dany would ever send Selmy away from her side during a risky public event, but….interesting none-the-less.

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    32. King Tommen,

      “If we haven’t heard about a character (who isn’t the equivalent of a featured extra with a line or two that sometime sneaks through), then they aren’t in the season.”

      I’m afraid you are grossly overestimating our knowledge.

      Before coming to conclusions about Jayne Poole, Wyman Manderly and many other characters not being cast for season five (in your case, Yunkai’i characters), please consider that you may be overestimating the number of castings we hear about. We don’t know if certain secondary characters are being included or not. Not all of them will, of course. But some might. The sole reason we know for sure that certain characters aren’t being cast is that their role is significant enough that their absence creates ripple effects noticeable in other casting and filming news and leaks and in promo material —such as Arianne, because of the enlarged roles of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, as well as Trystane’s much larger role and his description as Doran’s heir; or Young Griff, because we are pretty sure Tyrion will travel only with Varys and then only with Jorah.

      For example, we only know the Waif, Varamyr Sixskins and Lollys Stokeworth are being cast because of the leaked casting calls months ago, but if weren’t for those we would assume they were cut. Before the leaked script summary, many assumed the Kindly Man wouldn’t be cast (or that Kevan and Lancel wouldn’t come back.) We are just a few months from the premiere, yet we haven’t got actors pegged to any of those characters. If not for The Watchers on the Wall reporting on it a few weeks ago, we wouldn’t even know who was going to play Maggy (who we also wouldn’t know would be in the show at all if not for the casting calls.)

      Also, it’s simply not true that by this point last year we knew about pretty much everybody who was going to be cast in the season. Look up the history of the Season 4 page at the GoT wiki and go back to January or February. You’ll see some roles are still missing.

      My point being: it’s only logical to conclude there are plenty of new characters we know nothing about, because their casting calls were not leaked and the actors haven’t been announced.

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    33. Luka Nieto,

      The leaked casting call from last spring had the majority of the major new characters included (and I put the Waif, Varamyr, Lollys etc in the group of characters we know will appear even if we aren’t aware of the actors). We have had a few trickle out since then. The remainder of the ones discovered since filming ended in the Fall are incredibly minor (certainly none at the same level as the original casting call). I have not gone through an off-season yet where a fairly major character has popped up at this point in the process. We’ve more or less got them all.

      I agree that we don’t always get confirmation on some of the more mysterious returning characters but that’s not an issue in the Meereen storyline because there aren’t any options on the show who would fit that description.

      I am more than comfortable working with what we’ve got at this point. I’ll let the next trailer give us some further hints on storyline plot points but as far as shiny new characters showing up that we have been waiting on, that’s just unrealistic. You’ve been following the show production long enough to know that’s not happening.

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    34. King Tommen,

      “The leaked casting calls had the majority of the new characters included.”

      You do realize that is just circular thinking, don’t you? How do you know they were the majority of the new characters, exactly? In fact, the original report made it clear it was not a complete list of new characters, major or not. Leaks are not just something that happens automatically, and we simply have no idea if other characters will be included or not. If not for that random leak, you would claim with the same certainty that Lollys, the Waif and others are cut. Why do you assume that list was complete? Just because we haven’t received other leaks? How does that make any sense?

      Not that any of it matters. Yunkai’i generals are not even secondary characters in the books. They’re tertiary at best. In the show, that means they’d be a Yunkai’i chorus of Wise Masters, with maybe a head slaver / general with a speaking role. Assuming we’d have any kind of direct contact with them, anyway.

      Season 4 set up Yunkai’s involvement. Some people argued (you included, if I recall correctly) that it was only used as a way of making Dany decide to stay in Slaver’s Bay. Fair enough, but then she sent Hizdahr and Daario to give them an ultimatum, and the leaks confirm Yunkai intends to invade, so the plot is not being ignored at all; it’s being brought back with some urgency in the very first episode. I don’t see where do you see the evidence of an absence of Yunkai. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Though, in this case, I would go further and argue that there is plenty of evidence pointing to Yunkai being an active player this coming season —it was set up, it has been confirmed to pay off as soon as episode one, in a couple months. There will be consequences to that plot point. If not, what do you suggest will happen? Will the story simply forget about Yunkai? Suddenly they are not a problem? Why? How?

      Also, the fact that the Sons of the Harpy attack Dany directly is just good television; as far as I see it, it doesn’t point to the conflict being only internal. Most of Yunkai’s involvement would just be a CGI siege in the background anyway, to pressure Dany into certain decisions. Not exactly the kind of things we’d see in trailers, especially when not all VFX are done.

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    35. Hodor’s Bastard,

      She has Daario at her side in TV version, so that could explain it.

      King Tommen,

      Even though you are most likely correct we know the majority of the castings, Luka Nieto does have a point: We wouldn’t have known about Denys Mallister’s casting if the actor hadn’t died while shooting it. And he’s not exactly a minor character, is he? This also means it’s likely Cotter Pyke has been cast, but we haven’t heard anything about that either. So it is possible some characters (like Jeyne) have been cast that we don’t know of (though certainly not major characters).

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    36. Dutch maester,

      Didn’t even think about that, but you’ve got a good point.

      Leaks. Deaths. The kind of random things that cannot be predicted, yet King Tommen assumes that no other character of the same caliber can still appear in Season 5. What a strange logic. Not everything is leaked. Not every casting becomes, unfortunately, a piece of news, as it was with the actor who played Denys Mallister. Your example was perfect, Dutch maester: we have no reason to assume Cotter Pyke isn’t gonna be in Season 5 as well, and the only reason we haven’t heard of him may be that there have not been any leaks and, er… the actor didn’t tragically die.

      My question is, King Tommen: wouldn’t you assume that Denys was cut if not for the actor’s death revealing he’s not? Wouldn’t you assume Lollys, the Waif and others were cut if not for the leaked casting calls? Wouldn’t you assume Kevan may not be back if not for the leaked script summary confirming he’s back? If you follow your own logic, the answer to all would be “yes.” And you’d be wrong. All those random leaks, the unfortunate and unpredictable death of that actor; you really think no single relevant character (as in, say, Jayne, not someone of the caliber of Ariane or Young Griff) slipped through that incredibly unreliable net? In other words: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially when we know for a fact that our evidence-gathering tools in this case are not only faulty but completely random and out of our personal reach.

      Anyway. We’ll know soon enough, won’t we? Just a couple months.

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    37. King Tommen: I base much of my conclusions on casting and we’re at the point in this show that I can be very assured that by now, if we haven’t heard about a character (who isn’t the equivalent of a featured extra with a line or two that sometime sneaks through), then they aren’t in the season.

      Even accepting that, most of your conclusions are still classic logical fallacies in that there are many other explanations other than the ones that you conclude. Some of them are much simpler, too!

      Dutch maester: She has Daario at her side in TV version, so that could explain it.

      Maybe they flip-flopped their roles. Or maybe Selmy is playing James Bond elsewhere. (I could see him doing a Sean Connery type of thing!) There are many possible explanations for this.

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    38. Dutch maester: lso, Ian Gelder is now on Twitter:

      His bio reads: “Still alive as Kevan Lannister in Game Of Thrones. Currently playing James Whale in Gods And Monsters at Southwark Playhouse.” So WotW sources were correct, as usual!

      Public confirmation is always nice. 🙂 That’s definitely him- lots of actors he works with him are in mutual follow, and his boyfriend Ben Daniels tweeted @ him, so that verifies it.

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    39. Luka Nieto,

      What? If they had sent only an extra giant those crow guys would be smoked! They barely neutralized the 2. It was idiotic to just send the two! No army would do that!!!

      You would make a terrible military leader!!!

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