WotW Awards Season 6: Best Visual Effects Scene – Preliminary Round

season6 awards

After a long Labor Day weekend, we’re back to the Watchers on the Wall Awards! Today we’ll be finishing our preliminary voting, with a category this morning, and another post later on this afternoon finishing up Round 1 of the awards with our action categories.

Every year, Game of Thrones gives it all, with the finest effects on television creating the show’s vivid world of dragons, giants and White Walkers. Some of the visual effects are more subtle, with backgrounds and added people building up a landscape in such a skilled way that you don’t even realize that you’re seeing computer-generated imagery. The variety of ways you can apply visual effects is never more apparent than when you see the array of nominees in this Best Visual Effects category.

The standard rules: Select up to FIVE nominees from the poll. You can choose fewer if you like, but you cannot choose more than 5.

At the end of 72 hours (Saturday 9/10/16 at 12PM EDT), whichever five choices have the most votes will continue on to the finals. The results of the poll will be revealed when it’s time to choose the winner of Best Visual Effects Scene in a week.

As usual, we’ve taken the initial nominees from your suggestions, and listed them here. Choose your favorite five!

58 Comments

  1. Dragons attacking the boats scene. The Tyrion/dragons effects were awesome, but that scene was more about Peter Dinklage’s acting. Can’t beat massive dragon flames.

  2. If the epic dragon scene in Ep.9 doesn’t win this, I”ll eat my hat. And it’s a sure win for the Special Visual Effects Emmy as well.

  3. Drogon landing by Danny’s side before she climbs on top of him should be a separate contender. I think that was one of my most favorite and visually stunning scenes from ep 9.

  4. I’ve made my five pics, but like many, I just think the battle of Meereen was the most spectacular VFX I’ve seen in a long time, better than most IMAX movies!

  5. Another strong category, but I think easier than some of the recent ones for me to narrow down.

    Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire – A stunning sequence, and while the acting and score contribute so much, the visual aspects – specifically the green fire and the large bell going flying into the streets of King’s Landing – were also amazing, and a huge part of what made the scene so compelling.

    Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on the slavers’ ships – I am intrigued to see how the dragons are used in battle going forward, but this sequence gives the VFX people a lot to live up to in the future.

    Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell – The Battle of the Bastards was visually stunning in its entirety, and I had a hard time choosing between this and the Vale knights. In the end I opted for the horses, because I think this element of the sequence demonstrates the chaos of battle, and does so in a way that seems so realistic.

    The Khals are burnt alive, and Daenerys emerges unburnt from the temple of Dosh Khaleen – Again, a stunning sequence. And tough to pull off – the visual of Daenerys seeming to avoid the roasting the unsuspecting Khals got.

    The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree – This scene gave me chills; I can’t wait to see what VFX do with the Night King’s army in season seven, with Hardhome and The Door to build on.

  6. I voted for the Wights in the cave, Wights on the tree, and Bloodraven disintegrating (probably my favorite effect this season).

  7. Alba Stark:
    Another strong category, but I think easier than some of the recent ones for me to narrow down.

    Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire – A stunning sequence, and while the acting and score contribute so much, the visual aspects – specifically the green fire and the large bell going flying into the streets of King’s Landing – were also amazing, and a huge part of what made the scene so compelling.

    Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on the slavers’ ships – I am intrigued to see how the dragons are used in battle going forward, but this sequence gives the VFX people a lot to live up to in the future.

    Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell – The Battle of the Bastards was visually stunning in its entirety, and I had a hard time choosing between this and the Vale knights.In the end I opted for the horses, because I think this element of the sequence demonstrates the chaos of battle, and does so in a way that seems so realistic.

    The Khals are burnt alive, and Daenerys emerges unburnt from the temple of Dosh Khaleen – Again, a stunning sequence.And tough to pull off – the visual of Daenerys seeming to avoid the roasting the unsuspecting Khals got.

    The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree – This scene gave me chills; I can’t wait to see what VFX do with the Night King’s army in season seven, with Hardhome and The Door to build on.

    Totally agree ! I love yr post! Ole Alba! 😀

    https://twitter.com/richdlambe/status/773196435965767682

    All the cast in Belfast? Ah, Emilia…

  8. The dragons flying over Meereen burning everything in sight.
    Tyrion getting up close and personal with the young dragons.
    The destruction of Baelor’s Sept by Wildfire.

    Those are my votes … in order of preference.

  9. 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.

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

    The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree.

    The Vale cavalry decimates the Bolton army, ending the Battle of Winterfell.

  10. Luka Nieto,

    I chose 4 of these 5 too. For the fifth, I chose Sam at the Citadel library, instead of the Vale army. Even though it was Sam’s expression that really made that scene, the cgi was impressive as well.

  11. In the end, for me, the shots of Dany and the dragons during the Battle of Meereen were the most stunning of the season !

  12. I doubt that it’ll make the final cut, being up against all these spectacular battle and destruction sequences, but being a book nerd myself, I am very fond of Sam’s awestruck first glimpse of the Citadel library.

  13. Yeah, dragons are cool n all that – voted for them, too, Dany riding one and the armada scene in particular.

    The special effects scene that really made me gasp in wonder n glee, though, was the library of the Citadel. What a wonderful treat that was 🙂

    Wun Wun crashing things topped off my list.

  14. I too chose Sam sees the library as one of my picks, though it’s a bit like Arya sees the Hall of Faces but they both share that sense of awe from the characters to make you forget that it’s CGI.

  15. Alba Stark:
    Another strong category, but I think easier than some of the recent ones for me to narrow down.

    Baelor’s sept explodes, thanks to Cersei and wildfire – A stunning sequence, and while the acting and score contribute so much, the visual aspects – specifically the green fire and the large bell going flying into the streets of King’s Landing – were also amazing, and a huge part of what made the scene so compelling.

    Dany rides Drogon, and her dragons soar in the Battle of Meereen, raining fire on the slavers’ ships – I am intrigued to see how the dragons are used in battle going forward, but this sequence gives the VFX people a lot to live up to in the future.

    Horses crash into each other in the chaos of the Battle of Winterfell – The Battle of the Bastards was visually stunning in its entirety, and I had a hard time choosing between this and the Vale knights.In the end I opted for the horses, because I think this element of the sequence demonstrates the chaos of battle, and does so in a way that seems so realistic.

    The Khals are burnt alive, and Daenerys emerges unburnt from the temple of Dosh Khaleen – Again, a stunning sequence.And tough to pull off – the visual of Daenerys seeming to avoid the roasting the unsuspecting Khals got.

    The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree – This scene gave me chills; I can’t wait to see what VFX do with the Night King’s army in season seven, with Hardhome and The Door to build on.

    I voted for all of the above, except I voted for the attack and chase IN the cave, and not swarming over the cave.

  16. Definitely the Dany dragon battle scene in episode 9. Those visuals were just stunning, and if that’s but “a small taste of what’s to come” as the showrunners said, I’m totally in for more.

  17. Luka Nieto,

    I also did four of the same five as you. I replaced the Vale Knight’s scene with Tyrion freeing the dragons though. I just thought the close-ups of the dragons were stunning.

  18. 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.
    As he dies, The Three-Eyed Raven disintegrates in Bran’s vision.
    Wun Wun knocks down Winterfell’s gate and dies, shot full of arrows.

    Flayed Potatoes,

    Mine too.

  19. Tyrion the dragon tamer

    Dany ending the siege of Meereen on dragontop

    Euron and Balon meeting on a bridge. (It was so picturesque)

    The Citadel Library (upon seeing it, I had the same awestruck expression as Sam)

    Bran seeing the army of dead (gave me the chills)

  20. The VFX team really raised the bar for themselves. Again.

    What a great season!

    My top choice was Tyrion freeing the dragons – the VFX team gave the dragons personality, which I was unprepared for. Well done!

  21. Sue the Fury,

    Haha, yup, I figured that. But that scene was so spectacular, that it would have stood out as a strong contender just on its own. Anyways hope that one wins!!

  22. Wildfire in the Sept. So many angles and points of view.

    Three Eyed Raven disintegrating – beautiful and sad, was not expecting that. My favourite.

    Sam and the Citadel. That library!

    Tyrion and the dragons – he made that tension with foam dummies happen!

    Bran meets the Night’s King and friends.

  23. Dont get me wrong the dragon scenes are great but ive seen those before. The sfx for the battle of the bastards was brilliant. Watching and hearing horses colliding with each other was just awesome. It was intense.

  24. I totally missed the pre-nominations-nominations. As in, I didn’t even notice them on the site. But whatever, I’d have voted for Ghost in episode two, but the winner is Daenerys and the dragons in episode nine.

  25. Voted for:
    -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.
    -Oldtown is revealed for the first time, along with the Hightower and white ravens flying away from the city.
    -Wun Wun tosses a horse aside in the battlefield.

    Honorable Mentions:
    -Tyrion gets up close and personal, and frees the dragons.
    -Melisandre reveals her true age.

  26. i’m the only one who thinks that the Three Eyed Raven disintegrating should have been made in to a thousand crows?? jajaja beautifuly done anyways

  27. The Three-Eyes Raven’s disintegration is a clear winner. Subtle, but looks 100% real. In all the bigger scenes, the CGI doesn’t look real enough. Not that it would be the shows fault: big sequences like the Battle of Meereen are impossible to pull off completely realistically even in big-budget movies. That’s one reason why I hate CGI, but when it’s used right and only for small things, it can look great.

  28. -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.

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

    -The wights flood in and crawl on the ceiling of the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, while chasing Bran & co.

    -Sam beholds the great library at the Citadel.

    Also Considered/Toughest Omissions:

    -Dragons fly over Daenerys’ armada in the season finale.
    -Tyrion gets up close and personal, and frees the dragons.
    -The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree.
    -As he dies, The Three-Eyed Raven disintegrates in Bran’s vision.
    -The Vale cavalry decimates the Bolton army, ending the Battle of Winterfell.

  29. I agree with the masses that the battle of Meeren should win.So I voted for that and the explosion in the sept,the attack on the cave and Sam seeing oldtown and the library just because it looked really pretty lol

  30. Arya Snark:
    Luka Nieto,

    I also did four of the same five as you. I replaced the Vale Knight’s scene with Tyrion freeing the dragons though. I just thought the close-ups of the dragons were stunning.

    That would’ve been my alternative, so we pretty much agree completely 🙂

  31. Love how many people are voting for Sam and the Citadel Library! It was stunning!!! The Meereen and Tyrion dragon scenes were amazing as well and they did such a good job with the horses in battle, but man that library was spectacular:)

  32. That was easy and very quick

    1. Baelor’s Sept explosion
    2. Dany rides Drogon + the dragons soar in the BoM
    3. Horses crashes in the BoB
    4. The wights flood in the 3ER’s cave
    5. Balon and Euron Greyjoy meet on the Pyke bridge

  33. Rhaenys Stark,

    Eeeeerm what about the Sept of Baelor scene? That will surely win the award. I admit the dragon effects have gone a long way since season 5 but the Sept of Baelor was absolutely breathtaking, both the scene and music and the incredible effects

  34. The Sept exploding in Cersei’s green fury

    Ships destroyed with Dany’s Dragon fury

    The final sight of the Dragons flying over the Armada headed finally for Westeros made me sigh with pleasure, it was such a perfect ending, with the CGI Dothraki tending horses on one boat. Very pretty and very satisfying.

    Sam in the library, for the same reason as a lot of you others: I, too, am a book nerd and have stared lovingly and in awe at libraries in my own life.

    I picked one I haven’t seen picked by too many – the Phalanx surrounding Jon’s army. I was filled with an immediate sense of dread seeing that.

  35. Baelor’s Sept explodes
    The Great Library at the Citadel
    Horses crash into each other at the Battle of Winterfell
    Dragons fly over Dany’s armada
    Euron tosses Balon off the bridge

  36. The hardest category yet!!!

    Tyrion frees Rhaegal and Viserion, aka “don’t eat the help”

    Dany flambés some slaver ships, aka “our queen does love ships”

    Horses crash into each other in the BotB, aka “wild horses couldn’t drag me away”

    The sights swarm the cave, aka “hold the door”

    Cersei has a Sept of Baelor bonfire, aka “let’s make some s’mores”

  37. I think I’m the only person who didn’t vote for Dany’s Dragons in Mereen/with the Armada or the Wildfire wiping out the Sept. They would both be honorable mentions for me. I think they were both great but these were the more memorable, “Wow, THAT was FX?!?!” moments for me.

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

    – Sam beholds the great library at the Citadel.

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

    – The Night King and his army breach the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and swarm over the tree.

    – Balon and Euron Greyjoy meet on the Pyke bridge, and Balon falls to his death.

  38. The ‘helicopter’ (pull back aerial POV) of Dany riding Drogon with Meereen down below was a VFX composition as I have never seen before even in film CGI. There are two shots like this in the sequence. Especially the return shot from the Dothraki taking care of the SoH… with all three dragon about to attack long shot, that was a money shot!
    In fact I wish the whole thing could of had more screen time.

  39. Mary: Judging by the comments above, I’d say that the destruction of Balor’s sept is the winner of this poll.

    Imho, that whole 20 minute sequence was a great big gift to the fans.

    Admit it, you weren’t expecting such a thing at all, there was no hint of that sequence coming, at least none that I can remember. It started quietly, then THAT MUSIC, that piano, which was the first clue. Was there ever piano before in Ramin’s scores? Then the whole, amazing build up that bit by bit, answered the questions to slightly mysterious pieces of dialog coyly dropped in prior episodes: Cersei asking Qyburn about a rumor being true — OH wildfire, that’s what they were talking about. Lancel following one of the little birds, Pycelle being summoned, it was all marvelous. Margaery coming to the realization that Cersei had them cornered and telling the HS to “Forget the bloody gods…” The payoff, the sight of the Sept going up in Green Flaming Glory. Keep in mind, there is NO actual building used as the Sept. All exterior shots of that building are CGI. That explosion was amazing. I couldn’t believe that 20 minutes had passed, it seemed to have flown. Pardon my rambling here, I just love the whole episode, but the Sept going up was great on just about every level, both art and emotion.

    The second most popular seems to be the battle of Meereen – again, satisfying on both an artistic and an emotional level. I was afraid they were going to skip showing the dragons burning the ships, but they didn’t. They demonstrated just how it was done, and it got me thinking of the burned out rooftop of the throne room in Kings Landing. Ah, That’s how it’s going to be done. It was dragonfire.

    After those two, it seems to be a toss-up, with the library shot showing up in a lot of votes. It was in mine. The wights invading the cave seems to be pretty popular too. I liked that one, but it wasn’t in my top 5, more of a runner-up. How lovely that there were so many amazing effects this season.

  40. My absolute favourite was the Three-eyed raven disintegrating. I also picked the Citadel library (because I’m a bookworm!), the cavalry charge, dragons flying over Dany’s armada and Baelor’s sept.

    It’s amazing what can be done with CGI, often you don’t even realise you’re watching someting “not real”.

  41. Northop,

    I agree. A simple concept of the ending scene of the armada is hard to overlook. Any sailor can tell you that the mast pennants are blowing in the wrong direction.

  42. This 1 has to be the dragons burning ships … It’s more than the ships though it’s those beautiful shots of drogon flying over Meereen, Rhaegal and Viserion breaking out of the catacombs and looking up to see dany and drogon then taking flight (flawless unlike season 5) then there’s the whole actual battle that’s still going on with those fireballs being catapulted off the ships while the dragons fly around , that amazing shot of dany on drogon where it pans from below to above looking down at the ships , then the fire hitting the ships , the water boiling as the ship splits finally that wide angle shot of all 3 dragons unleashing their full fiery power upon that unlucky ship … I have never seen anything that’s left me so dumbstruck … The emotions I felt are indescribable. It’s the kind of thing you could only try to dream of and they somehow pulled it off so flawlessly it’s breathtaking

  43. I’ve chosen four (in no particualr order):

    1) Destruction of the Great sept of Baelor
    2) Drogon destroys a slaver’s ship
    3) Horses clash into each other in Battle of the Bastards
    4) Wights chase Bran and Meera, climbing over the ceiling.

  44. Definitely voting for the unchaining of the dragons. I couldn’t have cared less about Peter Dinklage’s acting in that scene. They could have sent random villager number five to free them for all I care. Those dragons were gorgeous and yet appropriately intimidating.

    Close contender would have been the wildfire at the Sept of Baelor, but I already voted for that as best dramatic scene 🙂

  45. Sansa's Knight: finally that wide angle shot of all 3 dragons unleashing their full fiery power upon that unlucky ship … I have never seen anything that’s left me so dumbstruck … The emotions I felt are indescribable. It’s the kind of thing you could only try to dream of and they somehow pulled it off so flawlessly it’s breathtaking

    Wouldn’t that be just amazing to see on a huge movie screen? Are they going to do the IMAX this year? Does anyone have any idea about that? They almost HAVE to, what with the delayed start date. What are we poor fans going to do around Christmas and the New Year, or worse, after the holidays when it will still be MONTHS of waiting for the season to start. Oh my, I didn’t know I could actually whine on a written page. But there must be something we can do to influence whomever that they must, MUST have an IMAX showing of the last two episodes. PLEASE? please …

  46. Sign me up for IMAX showings!

    Looking back over these choices makes me realize that there was nothing this season that to my mind compares with the grandeur of the Long Bridge of Volantis from the previous year. I’d like to see more spectacular panoramas of landscapes (and cityscapes) in the show. Sam and Gilly’s first glimpse of Oldtown was okay, but I actually liked the very brief shot of the waterfall at Bear Island better.

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