Watchers on the Wall Awards: Best Visual Effects Scene of Season 6

VFX

Deep into the final round of the Watchers on the Wall Awards, and we’ve reached Best Visual Effects Scene, celebrating the dazzling skills of the world-class artists who create some of Game of Thrones’ most remarkable scenes. Fans aren’t the only ones who take notice; Game of Thrones has won the Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for the last five years, the most recent award this past Sunday. With that kind of cred, we’re spoiled for choice every year when we sit down to choose our favorites.

WotW readers chose their top 5, and the time has come for everyone to make their final decision: what was the ultimate visual effects sequence of Game of Thrones season 6? The finalists are:

Tyrion gets up close and personal, and frees the dragons.

Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire.

Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on the slavers’ ships.

Sam beholds the great library at the Citadel.

Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell.

You can see how the voting shook out in round 1 of this category HERE.

Final round rules: Cast your vote for the winner in our Best VFX Scene poll. In the finals, unlike the preliminaries, fans have one vote to cast in each category. At the end of 72 hours (Sunday 9/18/16 at 6PM EDT), 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, which will take place in early October. Specific date to be announced in the near future!

59 responses

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    1. I had to go with Tyrion and the dragons. I like when special effects aren’t used for bombast all the time. This scene really showed that Dany’s dragons were capable of more than fire breathing and death.

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    2. Loved all of those scenes, great feels each for different reasons…. but went for the Sept of Baelor destruction, it was a chilling few minutes and it’ll always be quite a treat to be able to see those kind of big scale effects on a television screen (as opposed to blockbuster movies). The visual effects team have outdone themselves every year.

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    3. I had to go with Dany (I’m sorry Jon, my love). The CGI was breathtaking in all the choices though, so I’ll be happy no matter which scene wins.

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    4. ManderlyPieCompany:
      I had to go with Tyrion and the dragons. I like when special effects aren’t used for bombast all the time. This scene really showed that Dany’s dragons were capable of more than fire breathing and death.

      Agree and that’s why it got my vote.

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    5. My vote’s for Tyrion and the dragons for the scene’s mix of comedy, chills, and fx, although my favorite effects scene of the season was Balon and Euron’s confrontation on the rope bridge, wherein the illusion of reality was seamless. So much was going on in that short scene and it all felt real.

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    6. I surprise myself by voting for “Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on ships.” The Sept explosion was impressive, but even in my first viewing I could see through the CGI. Meanwhile, I was absolutely amazed throughout the Dany riding scene. Meereen and the fleet were pretty much photo-realistic, the dragons came close, and the integration between Dany and the CG drogon was much, much better accomplished than in season five.

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    7. As much as I loved (and I really did) Tyrion’s scene with the young dragons, this is the Special Effects award.

      Just for sheer grandeur, my vote has to go to the destructions of the Sept of Baelor by wildfire. I might have made a different choice if “Hold the Door!” had been one of the choices.

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    8. I think the reason these scenes, and effects-laden scenes in GOT in general, work is because pretty much all of them are in the service of eliciting emotions from the story and its various plots and scenes, and aren’t just there to blow things up.

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    9. Nothing else in the list holds a candle to Dany’s Meereen scene, which may be the most visually impressive FX work on the show, and possibly on television, to date.

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    10. Best Visual Effects: Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell

      The VFX people on GoT are AMAZING. Whichever of these five amazing scenes enhanced by their work wins in this category, they deserve mucho kudos for their work throughout season six.

      When I first saw the 610 scene with Sam at the Citadel, my initial reaction was when can I move in? I could quite happily spend years in that room! And I guess it is also a room that Sam could spend year upon year in. It looked so real, and the wonder on John Bradley’s face completely sold it.

      Much of Tyrion’s season was spent conveying the isolation he felt in Meereen among Missandei and Grey Worm and with Varys as the only person he truly knew and trusted, and the scene with the dragons really stood out. The performance and the VFX were both stunning – Rhaegal and Viserion seemed so real, and I cannot wait to see more interaction between Tyrion and the dragons in season seven.

      610 is definitely – in my humble opinion – the best GoT episode ever. There are many reasons for that, and one of them is the opening sequence in which Cersei takes her vengeance and uses wildfire to blow up the Sept of Baelor. The acting and VFX combine in such a stunning way that I was breathless throughout. Dodgy VFX shows up easily, and this entire sequence was completely believable.

      My runner-up was the Battle of Meereen, and Daenerys riding Drogon. There are some of the dragon sequences that are very visibly VFX, but this section of 609 flowed so well and looked so natural on screen that it really appeared as if the dragons were in their natural environment. And Emilia’s performance showed that she has become so comfortable and skilled at the scenes which include these elements.

      Ultimately I selected the Battle of the Bastards scene in which the horses collide around Jon. The entire battle sequence was stunning in terms of stunts and VFX and the high technical point of the entire season. Yes, Kit was amazing – I will not discount acting in a VFX category as the actor/actress has to sell it 100% for the VFX to work, and Kit completely did that and then some – but credit also has to go to the VFX people. It was so realistic that everything flowed throughout and seemed so very real. Visually, this was the best sequence of season six.

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    11. Best Visual Effects: Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on the slavers’ ships.

      As VFX Supervisor Joe Bauer said in “The Game Revealed” for 6×09 and 6×10, “Once Dany gets airborne on Dragon, the only thing real in the frame is going to be Emilia” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtS0l3IjZ0I , around 15:00). I knew that to be the case, and yet, on my first viewing and every subsequent viewing after that, it still makes my jaw drop. Honestly, it’s even more impressive now that I’ve seen behind the curtain. Absolutely spectacular.

      Also Considered:
      -Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire.
      -Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell.

      (The video linked above has some great BTS details on how the VFX team pulled off both of these as well).

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    12. Baelor’s Sept goes boom. After episodes of nothing happening in King’s Landing, Cersei chose violence and blew shit up. It was great.

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    13. The Tyrion/dragons scene is maybe my favorite of the series, right there with Hardhome and Viper vs. The Mountain. But it’s more about Peter Dinklage than the effects. The Dany attack with Drogon was stunning to watch, a hands down winner.

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    14. I had to go with Dany and the dragons. There was something about seeing the grown dragons flying over the city with Dany riding them that made me go, “omg damn!”

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    15. I had to go with the Battle of Winterfell here, and that’s because the sheer volume of effects that had to be positioned and spliced in to a long tracking shot for me outdoes the more static effects of the Citadel or the Sept, both of which were stunning. There’s just so much going on here and it had to be seamless, and it’s just brilliant.

      (And it also affirms my earlier vote for Kit Harington for best actor, because when Rory McCann isn’t on screen, nobody fights “in character” better than Kit. He’s fantastic at this.)

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    16. I had to fight down my sentimental vote for Tyrion and the dragons or Sam’s library-gasm to vote for Dany and the dragon’s flight over Meereen simply because it was the most beautifully choreographed VFX effect EVER. It wasn’t about the violence for me, just the way those dragons danced.

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    17. All great scenes and difficult to choose. I finally went for Dany riding Drogon joined by the other two dragons and burning the ships.

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    18. Okay so this is why I voted the way I did.

      Tyrion freeing the dragons: dramatic, suspenseful and really, one actor and two dragons that we’ve seen before. Not a yawn but, seriously.

      Cersei’s idea of revenge flambe: Okay, let me admit to the world that I belong to Team Cersei, the baddest bad girl of them all. Remember, a year ago, most of the people who got their just deserts when the Sept of Balor went up in green smoke, were openly taunting if not smirking behind semi closed doors as the Queen, the Kings’ Mother for heaven’s sake was made to march naked, naked mind you, through the worst streets in Kings Landing. Loved everything about the revenge except it wasn’t quite as good as, well you’ll see.

      Dany and Drogon explain what it is to make an entrance. Good, but not as good as Season 5 when Drogon rescues his mother.

      Sam at the Citadel: was I watching an outtake from the Harry Potter series or what?

      Hence the winner in my book: Jon Snow fighting the battlefield in Battle of the Bastards. The VFX in this sequence was stunning, frightening, oppressive and created the sense that you the viewer were there, not lost in the wonder or the magic but rather in the muck and dreck and blood and offal and the emotional horror of a battle where Death was all too present. This scene reminded me of the Omaha Beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, and hence it was the best VFX scene of GOT Season 6. (but really Hold the Door, was the best use of VFX ever).

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    19. I HAVE to go with Daenerys and her dragons! That was done so well and I think it may be a sequence I’ve watched more than any other in the series so far.

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    20. Not an easy choise either – all of these are great scenes in their own right.

      Personally, out of these five, I found Septageddon a bit less than the others, since – as Luka put it – I found myself “seeing through” the CGI (that scene remains great due to its acting and tension build-up though). I had the same with Battle of the Blackwater, so I guess my brain just doesn’t want to acknowledge wildfire.

      The other scenes all transported me into the story as only the best filming and acting – with or without CGI – can do. I love books and libraries, and together with John’s acting really was overcome by awe when seeing the Great Library. I could smell the books. In a similarly intimate yet very different scene, I loved Tyrion’s freeing of the chained dragons for the glimpse it gave us into their complex personalities. And I could easily imagine how bad those creatures must smell. The Battle of the Bastards did something similar to the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan – it put me right in the middle of a battle and made me want to escape the fray. Each and every one of those scenes made me feel like everything on screen was vividly real, with me standing just besides it. And rather unexpectedly, Dany’s Meereen scene did exactly that as well, even though this was arguably the most alien scene of all. For that reason, I voted the latter.

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    21. Greatjon of Slumber,

      Me too. The sheer chaos, and all the work with the horses… as much as I loved all these scenes and seeing Drogon at his amazing size was breathtaking, the hardest work I think was creating the sheer volume and randomness of the fighting.

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    22. -Tyrion & Dragons had really realistic interaction between actor and cgi
      -Great Sept was an awesome scene but it wasn’t perfectly convincing
      -Citadel was really cool but a relatively simpler scene in terms of vfx
      -Battle of Bastard had an incredible amount of CGI and mostly very well done, but when there are too many vfx shots, some of them end up not polished enough.
      -Dragons in Mereen got my vote. It was the first time dragons in action looked real. That was what we were waiting for and apart from the Bourne-like zoom in one of the shots it worked great.

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    23. Luka Nieto:
      I surprise myself by voting for “Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on ships.” The Sept explosion was impressive, but even in my first viewing I could see through the CGI. Meanwhile, I was absolutely amazed throughout the Dany riding scene. Meereen and the fleet were pretty much photo-realistic, the dragons came close, and the integration between Dany and the CG drogon was much, much better accomplished than in season five.

      Ditto! I wanted so much to vote for Jon and the botb, but this was done *so* well.

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    24. Dany and her dragons, with the battle at Winterfell being a close second.
      While the Sept explosion was very well shot, the cgi itself was quite obvious.

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    25. The Battle of the Bastards for me, it’s just so wonderfully done and choreographed and realistic. And I can see the influences of my favorite movie of all time,Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, on it. You youngin’s should check it if you haven’t yet.

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    26. The book lover that I am wants to pic the library scene all those books were so encredible, I’d love to just put my sleeping bag on the floor and stay there orever. And I know the sept will probably win. But the scene that was een more amazing to me was Danyriding the dragons. Not as spectacular in terms of plot, but losts of different action happenting at ones with Dany’s ‘up yours’ to the masters. (surprised that the final scene with the her fleet leaving for westerous didn’t make the cut, otherwise that would hae been my choice..)

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    27. I was torn between the complexity and epic dimensionof the horse scene and the aesthetic quality and beauty of the dragon scene and I had to go for the second hence Dany and the Dragons spill Blood and Fire over Mereen…

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    28. I have to go with the one that took my breath away the moment I saw it –

      The Battle of Meereen.

      As I was watching, jaw on the floor, I was talking out loud saying “holy shit! – for a show that always has amazing VFX, they just took it to a whole new level now!”

      I even had some friends call me right after the show to comment on how that was the most amzing thing they had ever seen.

      Kudos to all the rest … it really is the “creme de la creme”!

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    29. Ah fack, this one is really tough. They’re all good! Went with the horse battle since it was intense and looked so hard to create. Though my heart really loves both dragon scenes.

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    30. They were all great.
      But the scene right after Daario takes the Harpy’s head , the ariel pull back of all three dragons winding over the bay takes the cake for composition.

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    31. I admire the unbiased thought and reflection people have with these. I pretty much know when I come to vote I’ll just pick whichever person, place or thing is related to the North storyline. Haha. All Jon Snow & Ghost all day, for me.

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    32. dothrakian raven:
      Rhaenys Stark,

      I think Jon’s arc will be rather “quiet” next season and all focus will be on mind games with Little Finger about his parents…

      Agree – I think that Jon’s arc in season seven will be about identity and politics rather than action (he’s had enough of that the last three seasons with Watchers on the Wall, Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards, and will get more of it in season eight with the White Walker battles). I think the big action sequences will be focused on the south and Team Daenerys vs Team Cersei.

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    33. So glad that my initial nominee made it all the way to the finals. You go, Rhaegal and Viseryon! Who cares about Dinklage? There’s two frickin’ GORGEOUS dragons in the room. They looked so cute and yet so ferocious and scary, so otherworldly and yet so real. The detail in every single scale… And it is so easy for CGI fire to look cheap (see House of the Undying, back in season 2), but this time it really didn’t.

      I love that scene to pieces… not because of Peter, but because of the dragons.

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    34. Tyrion and the dragons was a great scene but looks pretty simple compared to the others.
      The destruction of the sept was probably the second best scene in the series so far, but for me it was because of the acting, the music and the climactic direction. Not quite the wildfire.
      Sam at the library was absolutely amazing but it also looks not that hard to make for cgi artists of that caliber.
      The battle at Winterfell is my favourite scene ever. And I really wanted to vote for it. But… I just had to vote for Mereen. Nothing was real, but Daenerys and a couple of actors more. Simply amazing.

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    35. I have to go with the Battle of the Bastards because I was surprised by how much of it was CGI. I knew they would use CGI for Wun Wun and to make the people and horses look as if they were being stabbed. It didn’t occur to me how many of the horses on-screen were CGI, and that they only used 80 horses. I would have sworn they had 1000 extras in the scene too. There was such a difference between what we saw on screen and what they were actually filming. And holy color correction.

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    36. Glad to see that I wasn’t the only one that chose these five scenes in the preliminary round! (It was a pretty obvious choice.)

      Went with my gut for Best Visual Effects scene. Although each of these scenes had me spellbound in one way or another, the Battle for Winterfell wins hands down. I’d seen the still of Kit/Jon standing in front of those charging horses long before it aired and watching it come to life had me holding my breath! (Love the way Jon swings his sword too…same moves as at Hardhome, my favorite episode to date.)

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    37. I just can’t get past Tyrion and those dragons. They looked so freakin’ real and they had personality. Actual personality. It wasn’t just how completely Peter Dinklage sold the scene (and he did, he so, so, soooooooooooo did), it was also how the FX sold the dragons as real creatures responding to Dinklage’s superlative performance. I just can’t get over that. The others had great FX. That scene had great FX that created a created performance out of their FX as well.

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    38. I love books. I love reading them, and I’ve been selling antique ones for years. So. I quickly voted for the library scene before rational thinking (hardest to make look real should win) would make me vote for another scene.

      Now I’m looking for a rationalization after the crime….eh…I wanted to show support of the decision to not spend all the cgi budget on the thrilling action sequences?

      Yep. That’ll do nicely 😉

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    39. This year’s Dany riding on Drogon was much more convincing than last year. Or put more simply, it finally got convincing. It gets my vote.

      At the same time, however, the Sept blowing was marvelously done. The whole battle of the bastards was unbelievably well done. And even the scene with dragons and Tyrion was masterful.

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    40. Best Visual Effects Scene: Sam beholds the great library at the Citadel.

      Honorable Mentions:

      Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on ships.

      Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire.

      Surprisingly, this category was actually my toughest vote thus far, as all three of these scenes were under heavy consideration until the very end–and all for very different reasons. Very tough.

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    41. Hundred percent this must go to the dragon scene. Whitewalkers cgi and all the rest are amazing of course , but that dragon scene was perfection. I would be shocked if anything else wins
      Sorry jon. I love you you will always be my fave hahaha

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    42. #1 Battle of the Bastards!
      #2 Day burning the fleet. But, they gotta work on the blast of flame from the dragons, it needs to be more impressive.

      …don’t care about the others

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