Watchers on the Wall Awards: Best VFX Scene of Season 7

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Best VFX Scene is always a tough category at the Watchers on the Wall Awards because some of the best visual effects on Game of Thrones will never be noticed- and that’s how it should be. But we still love to celebrate the huge effects-heavy scenes that GoT is so incredible at, so it’s time to dive into the pool of flaming-hot nominees and come up with a winner!

The final nominees for Best VFX Scene of season 7 are:

Daenerys arrives with her dragons, Viserion is killed, and Jon & company take on army of wights

The Dothraki jump through the flames, as Drogon turns soldiers to ash and lays waste to the loot train

Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon

Undead Viserion brings down the Wall, and the army of the undead walks through

Drogon makes a splashy entrance at the Dragonpit with Dany on his back

The complete results from round 1 voting in this category can be viewed here!


Final round rules: Cast your vote for the winner in our Best VFX Scene poll. In the finals, fans have one vote to cast. At the end of 72 hours (Saturday 12/230/17 at 12PM ET), the scene with the most votes will be the winner! The results of the poll will be revealed during the live Watchers on the Wall Awards ceremony- specific date to be announced soon!

63 responses

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    1. My best battle choice is the loot train, and while it’s great for vfx along with the rest, my final vote goes to the scene at the frozen lake.

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    2. This is an unexpectedly difficult vote. I was about to reflexively click on *Field of Fire 2.0 (Dothraki jumping through flames as Daeny and Drogon vaporize the Lannister troops.)

      But “Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon” may be more of a VFX triumph: to convey emotion through, and have a human character convincingly interact with, a CGI creature.

      Gotta ponder this little longer…

      *P.S. I simply cannot call it “The Loot Train” battle. Sounds like a cheesy heist film about transporting a ton of cash stolen in a bank robbery.

      And technically speaking, there was no battle of or for the “loot.” The plundered Tyrell gold had already been delivered to KL before the fireworks started.

      “Field of Fire” – now that has a ring too it. Also, it elegantly describes what actually happened, and is a neat homage to what I understand was the first mass dragon-roast of armies during Aegon’s Conquest.

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    3. Best VFX Scene: The Dothraki jump through the flames, as Drogon turns soldiers to ash and lays waste to the loot train. That side-view panorama shot of Drogon torching the wagons is probably the shot of the year, and the image of the Dothraki screamers tearing through a wall of fire is every bit as visually breathtaking. If you’ve watched the BTS documentaries about the making of the battle, it’s even more impressive.

      Close Second: Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon. The level of finely-textured detail in this scene was incredible. For me, the dragons have never seemed more tangibly real than they did in this scene. That eye

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    4. Ten Bears: *P.S. I simply cannot call it “The Loot Train” battle. Sounds like a cheesy heist film about transporting a ton of cash stolen in a bank robbery.

      It is a silly name. Even if they didn’t want to call it FoF(2) there would be better things to call it… even Battle on the Roseroad. Oh well.

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    5. They are all incredible! But I tend to go for small moments even with CGI so have to agree with Ten Bears

      But “Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon” may be more of a VFX triumph: to convey emotion through, and have a human character convincingly interact with, a CGI creature.

      And so thats what I chose.

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    6. Ten Bears: *P.S. I simply cannot call it “The Loot Train” battle. Sounds like a cheesy heist film about transporting a ton of cash stolen in a bank robbery.

      Well, it WAS a “cheesy heist”, transporting a ton of “stolen cash.” It was altogether fitting that it bought them a dragonfire ending. Remember, the POV was all Jaime Lannister. It was his “train”, his sordid mission to prop up his loathsome sister. The heist didn’t deserve a “glorious” name.

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    7. Best VFX Scene: Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon

      I loved this scene. Jon meeting a dragon up-close is something I’d been excited about and anticipating ever since I cracked the code on his parentage. It was beautifully shot and the score adds to it – but the VFX combined with a great acting performance made it feel so real. It really feels as if Jon is interacting with a huge dragon – and that there is an internal connection on both sides. Drogon seems as real as Jon is in this moment, and it is simply stunning.

      Close runner-up: Daenerys arrives with her dragons, Viserion is killed, and Jon & company take on army of wights

      I voted for the demise of Littlefinger as best death of the season, but Viserion’s really got to me! I may have watched a CGI dragon die, but it felt real and visceral to me. That entire frozen lake sequence is a testament to the skill of the VFX team, as is how difficult it was to pick a single winner of the five.

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    8. Jon pets Drogon, the attention to details in that scene was magnificent.
      and that scene was featured in many fantastic video edits so it add points. (check them about they’re just amazing)

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    9. Myeah, see?!? My vote is going to the loot train see?!?

      Sorry I can’t say “loot train” without feeling like a terd, so I had to do it all 1920’s-30’s gangster style.

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    10. Mr Derp:
      Myeah, see?!?My vote is going to the loot train see?!?

      Sorry I can’t say “loot train” without feeling like a terd, so I had to do it all 1920’s-30’s gangster style.

      You dirty rat! You sang like a canary to the coppers!

      # TopOfTheWorldMa!

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    11. zandru,

      I know! Except the “loot”, i.e., the “stolen cash”, had already been safely delivered to KL by the time the battle got underway. That’s why I didn’t think it should’ve been called the “Loot Train” battle at all.

      You know what would’ve been more accurate and even worse? “The Fruit & Vegetable Train.”

      Now, what I had been hoping for is that someone – a pirate maybe? (Hello Theon!) -hijacks the ship transporting the stolen Tyrell gold from KL to the Iron Bank in Braavos. (I’d bet the Iron Bank, like most banks today, has fine print in its contracts that says the customer hasn’t actually repaid a loan until the gold is physically received at the premises of the Iron Bank. After all, “the Iron Bank always gets its due”, right?)
      I really didn’t want Cersei to have the satisfaction of paying off the loan, and seeing that IB rep (forgot his name – Tyco Something?) fawning all over her and offering to lend more money.

      Fallback hoped-for scenario: Cersei gets the stolen gold – but learns that all of the crates of wine she was desperately waiting for got destroyed by dragonfire or plundered by the Dothraki. A scene or two of Cersei in withdrawal could’ve been interesting. Food shortage? Pffft.
      Wine shortage? ”Oh no!!!!!!

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    12. All aboard the loot train!

      (VFX-wise they are all incredibly impressive, but from an aesthetic point of view, there is no comparison IMO)

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    13. Reading through the comments, I am genuinly surprized that Jon petting Drogon left such a mark on many people. Different folks, different strokes. (ba dum tish!)

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    14. I’m surprised Dany arriving at the DragonPit made the cut for the final nominees…. it’s so underwhelming compared to these other scenes.

      I guess maybe I was too focused on how sad it was- how empty it looked and felt as they flew in, with Viserion gone. 🙁

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    15. Danielle Stark,

      Yea, I think her entrance was supposed to be mic-drop moment # 1,000 for Dany, but it kinda fell flat for me. All the other nominees I thought were pretty good options. I wouldn’t have chosen Jon petting Drogon either, as that was really more of a touching moment rather than a VFX moment for me, but everyone’s different.

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    16. Danielle Stark:
      I’m surprised Dany arriving at the DragonPit made the cut for the final nominees…. it’s so underwhelming compared to these other scenes.

      I guess maybe I was too focused on how sad it was- how empty it looked and felt as they flew in, with Viserion gone.

      I didn’t vote for that scene but I loved it, nevertheless.

      What I loved the most was when Drogon was lowering Dany down on his right shoulder-the shoulder previously pierced by a bolt-all the while maintaining direct eye contact with the Lannister hosts. It was as if Drogon was giving them the middle finger…it gave Drogon personality.

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    17. Feel like Viserion bringing down the wall should be the choice.

      But I cannot get over the scene with Jon and Drogon. It was so delicate and beautiful.

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    18. Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon.

      I liked how Daenery’s let the moment happen…. Daenerys didn’t know if Jon was safe or Drogon’s lunch.

      Daenery’s was seeing if her pet (dog) dragon liked a potential ally/boyfriend.

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    19. I am full-on ready to vote for anything FOF 2 this year (it was a surprise how much it resonated with me, but I am certainly not alone!), but my heart says Jon and Drogon which is the scene that got my vote.

      For a minute there, I suspended my firmly rooted in reality mind, and saw Jon petting Drogon. I loved it. The expression in Drogon’s eye, who doesn’t actually exist, and the trembling hand and determination of Jon, through Kit’s acting, just made it emotional and lovely. And the astonishment of Dany. Really well done.

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    20. Of course I voted for the most technically advanced scene HMO: the battle at the frozen lake. But my sentimental favorites are Drogon and Jon and Drogon being Dany’s “ride” to the Dragon Pit. Long live Viserion.

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    21. Speaking of the battle that happened on the Roseroad… I have some friends that don’t watch the seasons until the blu-ray sets come out. They found time to binge S7 on Monday. This is a text I got after that scene:
      “HOLY CRAP!!!! Watching Game of Thrones… Up to episode 5!!!!!! Woohoo this shit is good!!! 😛 “
      It was fun to read of her enjoyment after talking around specifics and the same excitement since the season ended.

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    22. Oh a toughie! I ended up voting for Danny saves the day at the frozen lake battle. Not only it was a well done VFX scene but also a glorious moment and a powerfully tragic one. You know how it is when you get attached to non existent VFX gorgeous beasts. Because yes, I teared up over the Viseryion death. Shut up, he was real enough to me.

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    23. Brilliant scenes all, but my vote goes to the loot train sequence. For a few seconds there, I was sure my main man Bronn was a goner.

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    24. Brilliant scenes all, but my vote goes to the loot train sequence. For a few seconds there, I was sure my main man Bronn was a goner. I mean, an fx scene without emotional resonance is just a bunch of x’s and o’s.

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    25. All were amazing scenes. But as someone who works in 3D, I found Jon petting the dragon the most impressive. So much tiny, intricate detail went into it and helped give a great deal of emotion to this normally terrifying creature.

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    26. This was a tough, tough choice; four of the five nominees were stellar, imho. But like a number of others so far, I voted for Jon & Drogon. I love the spectacular sequences, but do think the far greater challenge, special-effects-wise, was in creating warmth, personality, and a deeply emotional and telling scene between a person and a CGI-generated, airliner-sized flying lizard.

      In addition, when voting on such things I often consider the reactions of Saner Half, who 1) isn’t nearly the GoT fan that I am, and 2) is a sucker for LotR-levels of epic, grandiose, heavy-on-big picture/light-on-character storytelling. He loved all of these scenes, but whereas his reactions to the battles and grand entrances were like a 13-year-old’s (“Wow! That was awesome!”), his reaction to the Jon & Drogon scene was one of real wonder: “Wow. That was… just beautiful.”

      Mind you, this is a man who spends 90% of Jon’s screentime complaining about Jon’s hair and how much he (Saner Half, that is) misses Ygritte.

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    27. firstone:
      Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon.

      I liked how Daenery’s let the moment happen…. Daenerys didn’t know if Jon was safe or Drogon’s lunch.

      Daenery’s was seeing if her pet (dog) dragon liked a potential ally/boyfriend.

      So… if Drogon ate Jon, she would just say ‘oops’?

      It only really works if Daenery’s felt that she could ultimately control Drogon from killing Jon… I felt it was a power play on her part to try and scare him into submission or overwhelm him with her special control over these magical, dangerous beasts – another example of her superiority and favor in the eyes of the Gods. Drogon actually deciding to befriend Jon without prompting and Jon being receptive to the moment is what shocked / surprised her.

      Otherwise that was a really dumb risk to take with someone you want to win over (along with those who follow him)

      Voting… hmm, Dragon vs Dragon vs Dragon vs Dragon vs Dragon… there really isn’t a bad choice! The entire team should just win all the awards, I don’t think any of them are better than another, so I abstain on this one 🙂

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    28. Eerm Dany arrives on dragon and destroys the Lannister soldiers wins anyday
      That’s the best GOT scene ever and I doubt even season 8 will top that

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    29. viki,

      It was well established in previous seasons that Daenery’s could only control her children (Dragons) so much. Jorah told Daenerys “They will always be wild”… I don’t think Daenery’s did anything to control Drogon into not killing Jon. Daenery’s looked curious to me and didn’t know what was going to happen. Daenery’s is just trying to get a better view of what was happening between Jon and Drogon.

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    30. I always miss the preliminary rounds… That scene of Dany cruising over the water on Drogon’s back creating a wake in the water is pretty amazing. A peaceful moment within the mayhem… Second best is the Dothraki whoopass.

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    31. The Jon and Drogon scene is touching, but it’s not really a VFX achievement on the same level as a couple of the other nominees. I went with the loot train battle because it fits the category better, IMO.

      And yes, the Jon and Drogon scene was done very well and it was a technical achievement in and of itself, but it just isn’t on the same level as the loot train battle or the battle north of the wall. When I look back on the best VFX from season 7, I think of the loot train battle, not Jon petting Drogon.

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    32. I would have voted for Drogon at the Dragonpit – an excellent scene, if only the Lannister guards all around looked just a little bit surprised. Their capes could be moving a bit too.
      I could have voted for Daenerys saving Jon and the others – but that scene was compromised by the fact that a woman on top a huge dragon arrives to save those guys and the only one that looks up/looks impressed is Jon.
      Jon and Drogon seemed rather simple (for GOT standards) and Ice Viserion seemed fake.
      So, my vote went to the loot train. Again. I think I have voted for it in every category it was in.

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    33. firstone:
      Jon pets a surprisingly happy and receptive Drogon.

      I liked how Daenery’s let the moment happen…. Daenerys didn’t know if Jon was safe or Drogon’s lunch.

      Daenery’s was seeing if her pet (dog) dragon liked a potential ally/boyfriend.

      And Jon Snow does know something: If you can get your prospective girlfriend’s pet (dog) dragon to like you, you’re halfway there.

      Now if Daeny is smart, she’ll have a hidden pouch of bacon with her when she goes to WF.

      “Oh, this must be Ghost. He’s licking my hand! … Who’s a good boy!”

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    34. For me it has to be:

      The Dothraki jump through the flames, as Drogon turns soldiers to ash and lays waste to the loot train.

      The whole sequence of events was EPIC. From when Jaime and Bronn first hear the thundering sound of the Dothraki horses in the distance then to see Drogon coming in for the first strafing run – through to the final scene when Jaime attacks a downed Drogon with a lance and Bronn saves him (and himself) jumping into the river just in time before they got toasted 🙂

      All the VFX in S7 was top class, but this one especially.

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    35. Black Raven,

      For me, the best part of the entire Field of Fire 2.0 sequence wasn’t VFX at all. It was a practical effect: the Dothrakis standing up on their saddles to shoot their bows.

      It’s at around 1:30 – 1:39 of the embedded video clip.

      At least I think it was a practical effect, i.e., stuntmen with the skill and balance who to pull off such a kickass maneuver.

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    36. Ten Bears,

      Yep, I have to agree. That was very impressive. Seem to recall reading somewhere the show runners thought that couldn’t be done until someone said it was possible with special stirrups fitted higher up on the saddle that the stunt riders could climb on to.

      I wonder how many takes and practices runs it took to get that right 🙂

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    37. My head said the Loot Train but, as was said above, my heart went with Jon and Drogon. No-one in the world could have convinced me at that moment that dragon’s do not exist. I love the big, ostentatious spectaculars but that moment was very intimate and moving.

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    38. Black Raven,
      The director and Rowley thought it wasn’t possible. The show runners left that section (“its Camilla to do her” someone said in interview) up to Camilla to add her input; and the idea of men standing on horses were her idea.

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    39. I would give the Loot* Train slaughter the title for “Best Action Scene”, but for VFX, I voted for breaching The Wall. The physics were exactly right (ice exploding under cold, abrasive attack) and it is the payoff for what we saw in the very first sequence of the very first episode: the existential threat is real, and very much on the march.

      *Yes, the gold was already within the walls of King’s Landing, but the foodstuffs which Jamie, Bronn and the Tarlys had looted from The Reach were burnt. We’ve been told from early on that a long Winter will starve the capital; now, much of Westeros faces famine as the Army of The Dead marches towards the South.

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    40. Sue the Fury:
      Ten Bears,

      Yes, that was a practical thing- the stunt men really stood on their horses in the scene, which is incredible.

      It sure is. I am so glad the showrunners go the extra mile to include jaw-dropping moments like this – even if for only a few seconds out of a long epic scene.

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    41. I thought the whole loot train battle was amazing, not just the scenes with the dragons, but all the pyro technics work that went into it, the choreography, and also the music. The music from that scene was just epic and had my heart pumping more than anything, especially the part where Bronn try’s to shoot Danny and Drogon with the scorpion.

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    42. This one is hard. It is obviously either loot train or Dragon’s save Jon &Co. Those two are both more CGI than any other. I would be happy with either of them winning. I only picked the Dragon’s saving the magnificent seven because they had dragons and wights which are both magnificent Special effects!

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    43. I went FoF but after reading the comments I can see why other choices were equally valid. Have to roll with my gut though. That OTS shot of Drogon cruising over the river was what immediately came to mind. That was so chilling. I made my dad watch it when he came over (not a fan of the genre) and he couldn’t believe how violent and graphic it all was but really enjoyed it.

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    44. Best dragon effects ever. Easily. Hands down. No matter your opinion on Season 7 you have to admit the visual effects in it were properly mind-blowing. I’d have to go with Loot Train as the best but the dragon rescue beyond the wall would be very, very close.

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    45. Everything is better with dragons 🙂 I voted for Jon taming Drogon, a touch of sweetness in a violent world. I enjoyed the allusion to the beloved cartoon.

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