“ ‘Game of Thrones’ is a massive feature film masquerading as television,” says visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer. “Its scope is huge and its production reality is challenging.” The episode for which the f/x team are Emmy-nommed, “The Children,” features obvious effects such as dragons and an attack by zombie-like “Wight Walkers,” but also vast digital tableaus, including the arrival of Stannis Baratheon’s army and Jon Snow’s walk across a body-strewn battlefield. “You have top-notch stunts and prosthetics at work here, augmented by world-class digital artistry,” Bauer says. “I believe if you were to witness this horrific event in person, it would look very much as you see it here.”
Part of that horror was the battle atop the Wall. Stunt coordinator Paul Herbert points to a scene in the battle that was harder than it looked: A giant’s arrow impaling a Night’s Watchman and sending him flying through the air. “We had to ratchet the stunt performer from his firing position on the platform up through the roof of the platform and over our wall set, and land him safely on a rostrum behind the set, a distance of approximately 65 feet,” says Herbert, noting the Belfast studio has only a 90-foot ceiling and no grid.
“Every single test we did,” he says, “was scrutinized to keep the number of rehearsal flights of the stunt performer to the minimum whilst achieving pinpoint accuracy and keeping my stunt performer safe.”
— David S. Cohen