El Ranchito Imagen Digital/Vimeo

How the ‘Game of Thrones’ special effects team created the season’s biggest battle

What we saw is only the surface.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Published Jul 7, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 10:15 am CDT

The biggest battle of Game of Thrones’s fifth season showed fans the one true threat of Westeros, but that impact wouldn’t have been anywhere near as meaningful without the true heroes of “Hardhome”—the special effects crew.

The 20 minutes of footage took a month to film, but once filming stopped the special effects team—in this case the Spanish VFX company El Ranchito—took over. They had to not only convince us that we were really watching thousands of wights attack the wildlings and Night’s Watch, but include Wun Wun the giant, the aftermath of killing a White Walker, and the vast landscape of Hardhome that went far beyond the filming location in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

And they did that and more, as demonstrated with a five-minute deconstruction of the episode’s biggest scenes that shows the real beauty of its effectiveness. We know that realm and those monsters don’t exist, yet they feel so real.

H/T Digg | Screengrab via El Ranchito Imagen Digital/Vimeo

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*First Published: Jul 7, 2015, 12:36 pm CDT