WotW Awards: Best Visual Effects Scene Preliminary Round


After weeks of voting, we’ve finally reached the last of the preliminary rounds for the Watchers on the Wall Awards! Today, we’ll be voting on Best Visual Effects Scene, celebrating the moments on Game of Thrones when VFX made good scenes great, and great scenes a classic.

Starting next week, we will be jumping right into the finals round. The voting will be fast-paced, with shorter voting periods, so stop by often to make your voice heard when it comes to picking the final winners among the top 5 finalists. The awards show date will be announced soon, as well.

Now, onto the rules, one more time! We’re asking that each of you select up to FIVE nominees from this poll. You can choose fewer, but you can’t choose more.

At the end of 72 hours (Wednesday 9/17/14 at 12PM Eastern Time), whichever five VFX scenes have the most votes will continue on to the finals. (Note: in the final rounds, you will only have one vote to cast in each category!)

As always, thanks to Greatjon for his incredible assistance in tabulating the votes in this process!

Stay tuned for round 2, and keep voting!

Sue the Fury
Susan Miller, Editor in Chief of WatchersOnTheWall.com


  1. Giants and Mammoths – Fun though i would have liked more giants, mammoths and some chariots would have been nice but i appreciate it was only their first assault and budget issues.

    Titan of Bravos – Cool as hell as I’ve been wanting to see bravos for a while to see if it’s how i pictured it.

    Chaining of Dragons – Dany’s best scene of the season IMO and the visual effects on the Dragons just keep getting better.

    Is their no children of the forest/three eyed crow option ?

  2. rudie,

    Not if you didn’t nominate them. Though the children were in the skeleton scene. And there weren’t really any special effects involved for the children, just makeup and prosthetics as far as I can tell. Which are not Visual Effects.

    The three-eyed raven in raven form was part of Bran’s vision.

    Just to be clear, several of these nominations are a combination of VFX and live on-set makeup/prosthetic stuff, like Joffrey’s death and Oberyn’s head. So they are valid noms. I’m sure someone will comment on that.

  3. Edd unleashes the scythe in the Battle for Castle Black
    A giant shoots an arrow, taking a Night’s Watchman down into the courtyard
    The chaining of the dragons
    The forging of the two swords
    Oberyn’s head explodes

  4. This is difficult because every single one of those scenes deserve to win, these are stunning visual effects all of them, some even better than in certain movies!

    No out of the topic:
    I’ve been sitting here for days!!! Give us more season 5 set pictures before I piss meself…

  5. Sue the Fury,

    Ah thanks, i wasn’t sure how much of that scene was included. Wow I didn’t realize The three eyed crow human form was all prosthetic’s that makes it even more impressive.

  6. Mmm they all were good, but this is the first time I couldn’t pick five. I was surprised that the 360 shot of the Wall battle wasn’t there – but that was in the top fight category so guess it couldn’t be both. The aerial view of the Wildings, the Giant and mammoth at the gate, and Danerys watching Drogon were the ones I voted on.

  7. I nominate the visual effect of making it seem like a rape occurred in the Sept scene between Jaime and Cersei.

    Although I loved the aerial shot, GIANT FUCKING ARROW.

  8. My favourite would be the giant shooting a giant arrow, but I’d be happy with many others as well, as there’s a lot of very good ones. I will use my veto rights against the chaining scene though – solid metal of that size is waaaaaaaay to heavy to lift so easily, so the VFX breaks the rules of physics (no, dragons do not 🙂 ).

  9. Last category! Some tough choices once again, but relative to the other categories, this one is a bit less brutal. Three of my choices here come from “The Watchers on the Wall”. That battle (and the entire episode, really) was a technical marvel.

    -The giants and a mammoth attack the gate
    -Stannis and Davos sail under the Titan of Braavos
    -Edd unleashes the scythe in the Battle for Castle Black
    -Drogon barbecues a herd of sheep
    -A giant shoots an arrow, taking a Night’s Watchman down to the courtyard

    I’m very much looking forward to the finals starting next week, and seeing what nominees emerged from the preliminary round!

  10. That was the toughest one. There were some incredible CGI’s during the whole Battle at Castle Black.

    But, of course, SKELETONS!

  11. Ed and that scythe! The WoW moment for me from all of the above. Many scenes from ep 9. Picked three of them myself.

  12. Ironborn: But, of course, SKELETONS!

    I hated the skeletons – I couldn’t stop thinking that Captain Jack Sparrow could enter the fray at any moment… But that’s just my opinion, and isn’t it fascinating how everybody likes different things? 😉

  13. For me, the chaining of the dragons really didn’t do it.

    The ease with which tiny Daenerys picks up the HUGE collar & chain, and clasps it in an instant so the frickin’ dragons can’t get free… It strained disbelief. The weight of whatever props the actress was handling, did NOT correspond to the visuals we were given onscreen. For me, that was a poor visual effect shot.

    The dragons were great though, when bickering over a sheep, and hunting goats & farmboys.

  14. Lavignac,

    I think this is a huge, huge knot pick. That scene and the preceding scene with the father were two of the most emotionally powerfull moments in the season (and the show). Yes, it didn’t look completely realistic in hind sight- but I think you must be one of the only people who noticed that.

    We all have our knot picks, though 🙂

  15. jentario,

    Nope. I noticed too and dislike that scene a lot despite the emotion shown by the dragons. The preceding scene with the father was the best emotional scene in the season and the books–the horror, the sympathy for both the father and Dany–but the chaining was worse than almost any other scene this season. On a level with the Biter scene.

    Really love the scythe scene for the tiny puff of pink frozen mist in the wide shot at the end. Brilliant!

    I know it was in the other category, but that 360 was masterful.

  16. Giants and a mammoth attack the gate
    Edd releases the Scythe
    Titan of Braavos
    White Walkers transform the baby
    The chaining of the dragons

  17. jentario,

    As I noticed above, I felt the same… (might be due to the fact that I sometimes work with metal disks significantly smaller than the shackles, which take a lot of force to lift in place)

    Jaime’s girl:
    Tar Kidho,

    Ditto! I was thinking of Pirates of the Caribbean and laughing the entire time, probably not their intended effect…

    I was mostly looking bewildered at the screen, thinking WHUT???

  18. jentario,

    Shit. Clicked “post comment” in the middle of writing it and for some reason I can’t edit. Anyway…

    Tar Kidho,

    I was saying the void swallowed my comment. The just is that the scene was powerful because of Emilia’s acting and the poor cute dragons (which was amazing CGI!). The chain thing was a problem, but Dany doing the deed herself is much more personal and powerful- so I like it. And of course- you working around metal discs suspends disbelief, which I can understand 🙂

  19. Tar Kidho,

    I liked the skeletons a lot (I don’t see why the Pirates of the Caribbean association is a bad thing!). The fireballs got to me, though. That was the cheapest effect in the show to date IMO. It could have been much less over-the-top

  20. jentario:
    Tar Kidho,

    I liked the skeletons a lot (I don’t see why the Pirates of the Caribbean association is a bad thing!). The fireballs got to me, though. That was the cheapest effect in the show to date IMO. It could have been much less over-the-top

    The fireballs were ok. It was how they made it seem like the skeletons were raping Jojen that bothered me the most. In the books, it’s clearly more consensual.

    BOARDWALK tonight!!!

  21. This has a narrow number of real contenders: Giants and Mammoths attack the Gate, Titan of Braavos are locked in.

    As for the dragons, I think the best out of all of their appearances was when Daenerys locked up Viserion and Rhaegal in the season finale – just the animation of them behaving sort of normally was great – normally their swooping around really fast, but just casually walking you can see a lot of detail in them. But the big thing was that they managed to imbue a lot of real emotion into the dragons in that scene -they seem genuinely distressed at being locked up.

    Next I voted for Stannis’s cavalry charge in front of the Wall – it’s just a beautiful shot. Massive cavalry shot (which we didn’t get as much of in Blackwater) plus the Wall itself. It’s not really an “action” scene – little choreography involved (albeit working with horses is difficult) and most of it is special effects – which is why it deserves this category more.

    Hard to say what the fifth is. Toss-up. I went with the Scythe drop, but my final-round choice will be amongst those original four.

    The wight attack against Bran wasn’t bad…they openly admitted that they were making an homage to Ray Harryhausen’s skeleton fight sequence. And okay, I appreciate the classics of cinema special effects, I knew it was a wink and a grin reference to that. And it doesn’t outright “break” any rules, we’re just not really used to fast wights (and they weren’t actual skeletons but very rotten wights down to *little more* than skin and bone, they can’t be animate with just skeleton and no ligament, but I digress). So I don’t hate on the Bran-skeleton fight, and from a *technical* standpoint I didn’t think it looked fake or anything, I just wasn’t in the mood.

    I think in the final round I’ll go for the giants riding mammoths – because it was kick-ass, entirely new, and we were worried they might be cut entirely – we’ll always have dragons in every season, don’t know when we can vote for giants *and* mammoths riding into battle again — plus the oil fire explosion that drives them off. A *flaming* mammoth fleeing? Yeah…that’s the stuff…

  22. jentario: the scene was powerful because of Emilia’s acting

    Ah no, besides my metal plates, I also have had lots of experience with a little sister. She used to shed lots of crocodile tears, and Emilia reminds me a lot of her, so I can never take her tears seriously 🙂

    jentario: I don’t see why the Pirates of the Caribbean association is a bad thing

    Because PotC is supposed to look unreal and hilarious, unlike GoT. Somehow, to me it would have felt more ‘real’ (granted, I’m on shaky ground here) had they been attacked by normal wights. And the fireballs definitely should have been obsidian-tipped arrows. That said, the CGI was far from bad of course.

  23. I don’t think the forging of the two swords counts as a special effect. While I’m not sure, I do know from the Lord of the Rings trilogy that it is impossible to replicate molten metal – you have to use actual liquid metal. So what Lord of the Rings did was simply dress up their sword-smiths in orc prosthetics and costumes, then had them making *actual* swords out of molten iron and forging it as they normally would, just with cameras pointed at them.

    Similarly, given that they had another Tommy cameo as the “Volantene smith” (JUST BRING BACK TOBHO MOTT! THAT IS QOHOR’S DEFINING TRAIT! REFORGING VALYRIAN STEEL!)….maybe they used Tommy because they had to: I think it implies that this was an *actual* sword forge with real molten iron, real forging footage, and they “cast” the technicians as blacksmith characters.

    But for the sake of argument, if it was really just them pointing a camera at a real-life sword forge in a smithy, is that a special effect?

    (Doesn’t really matter I doubt it will make the final round)

  24. Although the dragons are well done, the 3 major scenes with dragons in S4 only involved them eating. Meh. I was hoping that they would be involved in Dany’s storyline more (like S3). Hence, my votes went elsewhere.

    Giant arrow!
    Wall Scythe! (who knew?)
    Stannis and the Titan!
    Meereen barrel attack!
    Stannis’ army at the Wall!

  25. The Dragon Demands: But for the sake of argument, if it was really just them pointing a camera at a real-life sword forge in a smithy, is that a special effect?

    Yes, that is a special effect. Every effect that happens in front of the camera and done on set is called a special effect.
    Effects that are done with computers and added in later in post-production are technically called visual effects(even though people call it special effects, it’s actually the wrong term).

    Why is “Oberyns head explodes” in there? Pretty sure the ACTUAL explosion of his head happened offscreen. Although VFX were used during the eye popping and the shot afterwards. The moment when it actually happens its cut to Gregor and some blood splatters.

  26. The Dragon Demands:
    I don’t think the forging of the two swords counts as a special effect.While I’m not sure, I do know from the Lord of the Rings trilogy that it is impossible to replicate molten metal – you have to use actual liquid metal.

    Dunno. There are a number of non-Newtonian liquids out there that can mimic the viscosity and movement of molten metal. Oobleck for one (watered down a bit). And you can make that shit at home, just don’t flush it down the crapper. Also, mercury if you wrangle it. Though mercury is, technically, a molten metal. I suppose you could add in the look of molten metal in post production, but it is probably cheaper and easier just to do the real thing.

  27. This is off-topic

    But… Are there any news about Joseph Mawle returning as Benjen Stark?

    Because I was thinking that…

    Maybe… and just MAYBE Coldhands has not been cut from the show.
    In fact maybe he’s been always there helping the characters, but hidden.

    There has been a few references of him in the show…
    as the flock of ravens that warned Samwell Tarly about the White Walker presence…
    and the same flock of ravens in Bran’s Vision..

    So, I was thinking that maybe, he will make an appearance beside the Blood Raven, and he will confess to Bran that he was always there helping them in their journey to get to the Three Eyes Crow’s cave.

    And maybe he was always hidden because the show doesn’t want to reveal him as being Benjen Stark, until Bran reaches the Blood Raven.

    This is just something I was thinking..

    I’m not a fan of Coldhands (as many are) or anything like that…
    Actually for me it doesn’t affect the story if he’s in or out.
    And also, nobody knows if the theory about Coldhands being Benjen Stark is true or not.

    But I really think that Benjen has to come back, eventually… It’s silly to think that he just dissapeared and that’s all… there has to be an explanation about him.

    What do you think?

    Some news about Joseph Mawle?

  28. I voted for the giants riding mammoths, Edd unleashing the scythe, Stannis and Davos under the Titan, Joffrey’s death (he looked horrible in a good way) and Oberyn’s crushed head (same).

  29. Fedejru,

    Benjen who? Bringing him back will have very little impact on viewers not obsessed with the books. The books made a bigger deal of his disappearance and mention it quite a few times, the show on the other hand, has pretty much forgotten about him. Shame really as Joseph is a hottie. Maybe he can play Euron?

  30. Lucius the Tico,

    Has been a bit of a barren few days. Although we have been spoilt with them up until this point. I’ve gone wondering throught the forums for the first time for my fix!

  31. Once again thanks to Sue and the rest of the mods for letting me be a small part of all of this. When we talked, it was discussed as well that “visual effects” weren’t meant to just CGI shots, but that involved other special visual effects too, so a combination of lots of things. With all that in mind I went with this:

    –The first appearance of the Titan of Braavos. That was a particularly awesome shot, so well put together, and really just looked perfect.

    –“They’ve got giants riding mammoths down there!” Consider that the whole thing isn’t happening: there’s no mammoth, there are no giants, the oil didn’t fall, and the mammoth’s ass isn’t on fire, and some poor SOB didn’t have his head crushed by the mammoth. I believed every second of it and am also convinced the mammoth is still running away, and has by now reached the three-eyed raven too.

    –Joffrey’s death. Combining the makeup with the effects in his eyes and the blood coming out and just OMG.

    –The Meereen pyramids. Turning no city into big huge city.

    –Stannis’s army taking out Mance’s host. Incredible looking sequence that had like just a few riders turned into a big invasion. The overhead shot in particular. Wow.

    So many close calls on this one, including the Harryhausen tribute (I loved it and still do), the big giant arrow DAMN, and the chaining of the dragons. Bravo!

  32. Greatjon of Slumber,

    I know a lot of people liked the wights but it just didn’t work for me. Particularly the bit where Jojen is being stabbed in the stomach. I can’t describe why it seemed fake to me and I’m usually able to communicate my perceptions pretty well. I wonder if anyone else feels this way too.

  33. Well I managed to narrow it down to three, and I honestly don’t know how I’m to be able to select just one of these for the final round:

    Titan of Braavos
    -Edd unleashes the scythe.
    -Drogon and the goats

    The last two were amazing, and both very dramatic due to their sudden and unexpected appearance.

    The entrance into Braavos was magnificent, especially the way it showed the grandeur of the statue as the tiny boat passed beneath it.

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