Watchers on the Wall Awards: Best Special Effects & Best Action Scene

Action and Special Effects

There were no shortage of exhilarating episodes of Game of Thrones in season 5. The action-packed year reached a fever pitch at Hardhome and Daznak’s Pit. The show’s Emmy-winning visual effects were front and center in the climactic moments of the season, and were laced more subtly throughout the stories all season.  Today at the Watchers on the Wall Awards, we’re celebrating both the action scenes and the special effects of Game of Thrones that take our breath away.

The finalists were voted on by our readers in the preliminary rounds. (Detailed poll results here!)

The nominees are:

For Best Action Scene:

 

For Best Special Effects:

  • Tyrion and Jorah spy a dragon as they sail through ruins of Valyria
  • Drogon attacks and Dany rides at Daznak’s Pit
  • A White Walker walks through flames, fights Jon and is shattered by Longclaw
  • Wights throw themselves off the cliffs at Hardhome
  • With Jon at sea, the Night’s King raises the dead of Hardhome

Polls are at the bottom the post– but first, here are this season’s VFX breakdown reels, detailing the visual/special effects transformation process involved in Game of Thrones!

In the finals, unlike the preliminaries, fans have one vote to cast in each category, and 48 hours to make their decision and vote.

Best Action Scene Poll:

 

Best Special Effects Poll:

The final round polls will be open for 48 hours: Best Special Effects and Best Action Scene beginning now and running until 9/30/15 at 4PM EDT. The results will be revealed at the Watchers On The Wall Awards ceremony in a couple weeks!

74 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. I’m going with Jon battling the White Walker for action.

      For effects, the wights over the cliff is incredible. While the Night’s King raising the dead looks cool, there’s not actually that much special effects involved in that compared to the other scenes.

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    2. Sue the Fury,

      Sue the Fury:
      I’m going with Jon battling the White Walker for action.

      For effects, the wights over the cliff is incredible. While the Night’s King raising the dead looks cool, there’s not actually that much special effects involved in that compared to the other scenes.

      While the Night’s King raising the dead looks cool, there’s not actually that much special effects involved in that compared to the other scenes.

      Now that you mention it…. Should have tought that a bit more…

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    3. Mihnea,

      That’s one of the reasons why I included the videos- so people can see the breakdown of special effects and understand just how much goes into all the scenes.

        Quote  Reply

    4. Jon vs. the White Walker for best action scene! It was by far one of the most edge-of-your-seat fights in the series so far, with that really awesome reveal about Valyrian steel at the end.

      And while not every shot looked great during the sequence, on average I’d say Drogon at Daznak’s Pit has the best effects… especially the shots of him frying Harpies with dragon fire. That shit looked real. :O

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    5. Jon vs. the White Walker for best action scene.

      My favourite special effects scene of the year was Dany seeing Drogon again after her decision to execute Mossador. Really impressive stuff there, conveying subtle emotions. Of the nominees, I’ll go with the VFX for the above fight scene.

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    6. Jon vs. White Walker (CLINK … huh???), Swing and Smash – If you watch reaction videos on YouTube, this was probably the most fist pumping moment of the season.

      Drogon to the rescue.

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    7. Mihnea,

      Wow, that is really something! They definitely went all out for that entire sequence. It was all well worth it as it’s the first time I’ve ever stood up and cheered out loud while watching a TV show.

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    8. I went with the Night King raising the dead… And here is why…
      Just because it isn’t the most VFX intensive scene, doesn’t mean that it isn’t the best VFX scene. It is the use of the VFX to tell the story. And for Season 5, there was no moment more climactic than the finish of Hardhome. And the VFX had a part in making that happen.

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    9. What about the Harpy Statue being pulled down? That was by far the most impressive piece of CGI this season, at least in my opionion. As for action scenes, that long single shot that starts with chaos, continues with Jon fighting a bunch of wights and ends with Wun Wun bursting out of the hut definetily gets my vote.

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    10. Going with the fight scene that had me on the edge of my seat: Jon vs. Whitewalker.

      That being said, Drogon making everybody regret not wearing the brown pants for best special effects. Would’ve voted for “Master Eaton”, as those effect just seemed more natural and Rhaegal+Viseryon in the crypt works wonders with the lighting/fire.

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    11. Jon vs. WW and Drogon at Daznak.

      Drogon wasn’t perfect, but I still think it’s mind-boggling that he was created for a television show, and basically from scratch. Most of the other VFX is aided by a lot of makeup and prosthetics and pasting/manipulating green screen footage of actual actors, but Drogon starts as like, a tennis ball or something.

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    12. ShadowStalker,

      Agree with you completely. Ignoring the wights etc, the surroundings of Hardhome are very CGI-heavy, and they are the framework that allows the raising-of-the-dead to be the great scene it is. Suggesting that this scene would be less worthy of winning this category because it didn’t depend as much on CGI is plain wrong.

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    13. Am I the only one who voted for Tyrion and Jorah seeing Drogon over old Valyria? Valyria was stunning and Drogon made me catch my breath and hold it.

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    14. thornofhighgarden,

      Agreed.

      I actually though that Drogon was pretty on point, even when Dany was climbing on him. The only dodgy part for me was one particular shot close up on Dany when she was riding. Not terrible, but it just looked really off. Definitely the best CG of the season for me though.

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    15. Tar Kidho,

      Except that this is a special effects category, not the best drama scene category. People should be voting on the effects. I’m kind of surprised we’re having to spell that out.

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    16. I think the whole scene in Valyria has been just amazing and really well done. I felt the chill when the dragon appeared, and then when the stone men began their action. It was truly magical and surreal. So I voted for this.

      And of course, for Jon vs. the WW Commander in the action poll. Even though I knew he would survive this battle, I was really worried and then excited when he managed to kill the WW with Longclaw. Jon’s reaction and surprise when it happened were really well played, too.

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    17. Sad to see my favourite VFX scenes not on the list. (The Harpy statue being taken down and the Long Bridge of Volantis) With that said, I went with Drogon in Daznak, yeah the flight might not have been perfect, but it was still really impressive.
      The Action category was harder, but I went with Wun Wun because he’s awesome!

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    18. Robb Snow,

      I agree with you 100%.

      Those were my 2 picks as well.

      When Jon kills that White Walker its such a fist pumping moment.

      And when Drogon came flying down to save Dany, OMG I felt like such a happy little kid, that was amazing!

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    19. Best action scene:

      I went with Jon v White Walker. Selmy was a close 2nd.

      Best VFX scene:

      While Drogon in the pit is probably a more impressive feat I had to go with the Drogon Valyria fly-over. Probably my favorite moment of the season. Just love the whole mood of the scene in the ruins of Old Valyria and the look on Tyrion’s face as he sees a dragon for the first time.

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    20. Gayle:
      Am I the only one who voted for Tyrion and Jorah seeing Drogon over old Valyria?Valyria was stunning and Drogon made me catch my breath and hold it.

      I was one of those who nominated it. But at the end of the day, for me, the better overall effect was the wights going over the cliff. The Drogon clip was stunning and moving, to be sure. I hope more people vote for it, just for the recognition.

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    21. Just about any scenes with Drogon in them were supreme for the most part. I loved his scene in the finale, particularly the animation! He was like a big dog, just lounging around and licking his paws. It was cute in a weird way.

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    22. Sue the Fury,

      I see this very differently. You can do something very VFX intensive and amazing but if it doesn’t fit within the confines of what is going on… or sticks out as very VFXish… then it is a failure.

      I am not saying the other scenes are “failures”. What I am saying is that I didn’t notice the VFX in that scene, which to me is the sign of great VFX. And there was plenty of it in there. Whether it was the most flashy or technical isn’t the point.

      But if they had done something VFX wise in that scene that took away from that moment… that would have be a shame.

      Side note this is why I loved Mad Max: Fury Road. It didn’t rely on VFX… just used as a tool to enhance what was there (mostly).

        Quote  Reply

    23. Jon vs White Walker. Most intense fight of the series so far.
      Runner Up: Wun Wun

      Drogon’s rescue operation. I love the moment when Dany closed her eyes, dramatic music hits and Drogon arrived on the scene.One shot of Dany’s flight was a bit off,but screw that.It was fantastic.
      Runner up:White Walker walking through the flames.

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    24. Jon vs WW
      Tyrion & Jorah in Valyria (also because of the spine-chilling Stone Man dropping off the cliff behind Tyrion’s awestruck face, I mean damn…)

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    25. I vote for 17 horribly aged celebrities for best special effects… Nah went with Jon fighting the Walker and T&J seeing drogon, even though some YT’er said he was flying stiff as hell which I have to agree with. Cool scene tho

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    26. Sue the Fury:
      I’m going with Jon battling the White Walker for action.

      For effects, the wights over the cliff is incredible. While the Night’s King raising the dead looks cool, there’s not actually that much special effects involved in that compared to the other scenes.

      Yeah I did the Jon/WW fight for the first

      Chose Drogon in Valyria because of the atmosphere of the whole thing

      But now I kinda wish I’d chosen the Wights off the cliff

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    27. hexonx: Just love the whole mood of the scene in the ruins of Old Valyria and the look on Tyrion’s face as he sees a dragon for the first time.

      Loved that moment as well, even if it was missing a few exceptionally large turtles and a gorgeous septa. 🙂

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    28. thornofhighgarden:
      Jon vs. WW and Drogon at Daznak.

      Drogon wasn’t perfect, but I still think it’s mind-boggling that he was created for a television show, and basically from scratch. Most of the other VFX is aided by a lot of makeup and prosthetics and pasting/manipulating green screen footage of actual actors, but Drogon starts as like, a tennis ball or something.

      Actually, IMO, Drogon looked perfect. What looked like shit was the background shot of Meereen and the pyramids. Way too static and out of focus. And i feel like most of the times they ruin the landscape shots with the CGl fog they add. It’s just not necessary, especially on every VFX shot.

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    29. Looks like Jon vs. WW will get this one, as it should.

      For SFX, I always feel completely out of my depth evaluating those. I do very much appreciate the addition of the VFX videos this year, they were helpful. I voted for the eights going over the cliff, one of the more memorable moments from Hardhome that relied a lot on special effects. But of the WW fight wins for SFX instead, or if the Pit sequence wins, you won’t see me complaining.

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    30. Best Action Scene: Jon battles a White Walker one-on-one at Hardhome.

      This season was full of heart-pounding battles and superbly executed scenes, but for my money, there was no more thrilling moment than this one. From the moment Jon went to Hardhome, we knew he was likely to cross paths with one of the creatures. Yet way that the White Walker slowly emerged from the flames was still unspeakably eerie. He dispatched Loboda will brutally efficient ease, and the way he tossed Jon around like a rag doll had me briefly but genuinely fearful for the Lord Commander’s life, despite knowing the fate that awaited him later.

      Then came the moment when Jon managed to retrieve Longclaw and parry the Walker’s frozen blade. The matching looks of shock on their faces are priceless. Jon recovered, swung his sword into the creature’s neck, and the White Walker just shattered. Fantastic. I had been watching the entire battle sequence in a kind of giddy daze, but in that moment, everything became crystal clear. I jumped up, pumped my fist, and exclaimed “VALYRIAN STEEL! HELL YES!” (I’m betting I wasn’t alone). We had all suspected, but until that moment, we didn’t truly know. An unforgettable moment, and perhaps a critical one for the future of this story.

      Best Special Effects Scene: Drogon attacks and Dany rides at Daznak’s Pit.

      There are more than a few people who have given the “Dany rides” part of this scene some flack. I’ll admit I can see the seams during those few brief seconds, but I still think it looks pretty good – especially for a TV show. It certainly didn’t detract from the thrill I felt the first time I saw the queen and her dragon take flight. And I think the rest of the sequence is fantastic. Drogon, in all of his appearances this year, became a fully realized and expressive character, and the VFX artists – working together with David Nutter and the actors – managed to bring him to full, terrifying life as he lays waste to the Sons of the Harpy. The fact that they set people aflame using a giant fire-breathing crane is pretty damn badass. Strictly speaking, that part of the scene may fall more under the realm of stunts than special effects, but the CGI integration of the real flames with the fictional creature appears effortless.

      Back in Season 1, we were all rightly impressed by the newly-hatched baby dragons and how good they looked. Yet when the Daznak’s Pit sequence was released a short while later, I wondered how in the hell they were going to pull it off (Benioff and Weiss have admitted they wondered the same thing). As the years passed, the CGI budget increased, the dragons looked better and better, and my concerns lessened … but they never entirely went away. I believed they could do it, but I remained ever so slightly nervous. Well, I needn’t have worried even that much. They pulled it off, and the results were spectacular.

      (That being said, if the Night’s King raising the dead or the Wights going over the cliff win this category, I’ll be very happy as well. And the slow boatride through Valyria, complete with Drogon’s flyover, is one of the most beautifully shot sequences of the year, with CGI so seamlessly integrated that I barely noticed it).

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    31. Had to go with Selmy going down like a boss. And the White Walker sequence, f—ing amazing. I was so like is this television or is this a movie, Mother’s Mercy I wish this was a movie!!!

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    32. ShadowStalker: What I am saying is that I didn’t notice the VFX in that scene, which to me is the sign of great VFX. And there was plenty of it in there. Whether it was the most flashy or technical isn’t the point.

      Well said ShadowStalker. I don’t understand why we have to spell it out to you either, Sue…

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    33. jon and white walker. that was awesome.
      and drogon flying over valyria, because it looked pretty real to me. first i wanted to vote for daznak’s pit but i didn’t like the effects that much and the angle from where we saw dany flying on drogon…

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    34. Yes, an article I can read and comment on! LOL! Trying to avoid spoilers so bad!

      Jon fighting the WW for action and special effects.
      I could have and should have gone for some thing else for special effects… but I made my votes too quickly lol
      Jon’s scenes at hardhome were some of his best!!!!!!! HOPE we get more next year 😐

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    35. Sue the Fury:
      I’m going with Jon battling the White Walker for action.

      For effects, the wights over the cliff is incredible. While the Night’s King raising the dead looks cool, there’s not actually that much special effects involved in that compared to the other scenes.

      I didn’t read the comment before voting, but these were my choices too!

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    36. Gayle:
      Am I the only one who voted for Tyrion and Jorah seeing Drogon over old Valyria?Valyria was stunning and Drogon made me catch my breath and hold it.

      No, I voted for Valyria, too. Simply because I’m grateful that we got to see this mythical place. Maybe it is not the most complicated CGI scene, but the whole concept/design/new setting stuff excites me most.

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    37. Deesensfan: Yes, an article I can read and comment on! LOL! Trying to avoid spoilers so bad!

      Haha, I’m doing exactly the same! Every other article these days seems to be titled “Even more revealing spoilers!”, and many gather hundreds of comments in no time, so I’m sure there’s a lot waiting for us in Season 6. Even though I’m re-reading AFFC and concurrently reading ADWD for the first time (using the “correct” reading order as suggested here), I still like to be as unspoiled as possible about what is coming in tv-GOT. Sometimes it gets hard not to read the sspoilers, because I’m really curious and can hardly wait, but in the end it makes my watching experience much better (I discovered that already after the first season). Here’s to us strong-willed thronies! 🙂

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    38. Jon defeating the White Walker was the loudest I’ve cheered at a screen since Aragorn chopped off Lurtz’s head all those years ago. So that’s a no brainer.

      I went for Valyria for FX – the whole scene feels so authentically ‘other-worldly’, it’s like a work of art.

      On another note, I don’t want to watch any of the ‘making of’ videos as once I have those in my mind it undermines the scene for me next time I watch it. Nice to keep some of the disbelief suspended.

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    39. Ross,

      Totally agree with you. When you get into the technicalities and behind the scenes stuff it takes away from the magic of the actual story because you really do have to suspend disbelief in order to be transported into the GOT world, or whatever other “world” you enjoy.

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    40. Almost to much to pick about Hardhome since it is unique for action in TV history.
      Action , I would go with White Walker one-on-one at Hardhome, that was a surprise withing a surprise.

      Daznak’s Pit for VFX. Despite some awkward live action choreography this was as intricate CGI as I have ever seen on TV.

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    41. Gayle,

      I voted for that one, too. All of the choices were so impressive that it was difficult to choose a favorite. Maybe the special effects in the other choices were more action-packed and exciting, but I just loved the serenity of Drogon flying through the clouds over Valyria and the look on Tyrion’s face as he sees his first dragon.

      My other vote was Jon vs WW.

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    42. I voted for Jon fighting his way through Hardholme, because there is a sh*t-ton of fight choreography going on there, plus CGI elements. Wicked.

      I also voted for Daznak’s pit, even before I rewatched the SFX video. Upon watching, still happy with my decision.

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    43. Tar Kidho,

      oh yes!!!!!! I think the spoilers that are being reported are wayyyy more than what has been covered in the books.. I THINK… I mean, why would they gather 700+ comments then?
      We are strong, and I am soooooooo excited to be surprised at all the good things to come. SIX MONTHS LEFT LOL

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    44. Jon v WW for action….I could watch Kit swing a sword all day. He’s brilliant with a sword! And discovering that VS would win against whatever that thing was swinging made that scene one of the best of the series.

      Went back to Hardhome for VFX too. That entire episode had me spellbound. Best hour of TV ever!

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    45. I’m surprised it at all the differing opinions, especially Drogon in the pit, thought the greenscreen was a bit weak there and the scene itself was not really immersive.
      That being said its gotta be Jon 1-1 for both

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    46. Both real tough choices, but I had to go with Jon’s one-on-one with the white walker and Dany & Drogan in the pit & beyond. That was incredible SPFX even for a feature film … for TV … inconceivable!

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    47. For the action scene, I had to go with Selmy’s last battle! I really loved that scene… and I have to say a great part of it was due to the music, but the action was really fine, a last moment of great bad ass-ery! My favourite action bit was Hardhome as a whole but when you break it down into single action scenes it looses some impact IMO.

      For the VFX, that was a hard choice. I ended up voting for “A White Walker walks through flames, fights Jon and is shattered by Longclaw” but I could easily have voted for the wights falling off the cliff (impressive) or Valyria or the others… Man, the VFX scenes in this show are just amazing!

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    48. Valyria.

      We’re talking VFX, that stuff that, when done correctly, leaves you suspending your disbelief and thinking, “That wasn’t real…was that real!?”

      It wasn’t just the cgi. It was the poem, the ruins, the history: all manufactured, all effects. Maybe not all “visual,” but certainly all painting the scene. I was hyperventilating over Valyria before I got the contact high from Tyrion’s reaction to Drogon.

      Best effects.

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