Bringing Game of Thrones to life isn’t easy—Just ask the visual effects team


The Game of Thrones team upped the ante when it came to the visual effects for season 8. Some fans may question the direction the story took, but we can’t deny how freaking cool everything looked on-screen — yes, even the dark Battle of Winterfell.

Behind these incredible effects is Weta Digital, which also worked on movies like Lord of The Rings and Avatar. Only the best for Game of Thrones.

For the final six episodes of Game of Thrones, Weta Digital worked on about 600 shots of death, destruction, and dragons. Digital VFX supervisor Martin Hill spoke with Digital Spy to break down some of the intriguing details, starting with the Battle of Winterfell. We heard many times over the course of filming the final season that this epic battle took about 55 nights to shoot over the course of 11 weeks. Wowza! If you watched The Last Watch, you got a solid behind-the-scenes look at what went into creating this sequence — and it wasn’t easy. So how did Weta go about tackling all the ridiculous scenes with wights, the Dothraki army, and the epic dragon showdown?

"Weta has a lot of experience using Massive [a high-end computer animation software] for complex crowd simulations, using performance capture to record an actor’s motion and using large veterinary treadmills for capturing run cycles for horses. […] For the Dothraki and their horses, we created full CG shots as well as crowd extensions that blended into live action plates."

Let’s talk about the scene after Melisandre lights all the Dothraki arakhs only for their cavalry to be mowed down by the army of the dead moments later. That was insane, frightening, and pretty darn cool. My heart went out to the Dothraki who died, but part of me was just blown away by the visual splendor of it all.

"For the fire, we passed the timing and positions of the arakhs being lifted in a wave from Massive to our FX team for the fire simulations. [..] When the lights in the distance from the swords are being extinguished as the Dothraki are being decimated, we continued full Massive simulations even though you could only see the lights of the swords, to keep the movement and cadence of riders on horseback looking real. You can see some of the fires drop and go out as the riders are knocked off their horses."

I still get chills thinking about this scene.

Hill also talked about creating Rhaegal’s death scene, which caught most of us by surprise. Why did no one see Euron coming? I’ll never be able to let that go.

Apparently, this scene was supposed to be three separate shots, but the decision was later made to make it “into one sweeping, graceful, orbiting and line-crossing camera move around the dragon to almost Dany’s POV where we watch him dive into the water.” I definitely like the sound of this better. As a viewer, it’s easier for me to get into a scene if the shot is unbroken.


Chicago White Sox Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead
Chicago White Sox Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead /

Chicago White Sox Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead

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Visual effects for shows like Game of Thrones always blow my mind. It’s easy to sit and home and be critical, but also to forget how much hard work goes into each and every second of the show. It’s pretty incredible.

Next. WiC Exclusive: Jeanie Finlay walks us through directing The Last Watch. dark

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