As much of a Game of Thrones fan as I am, the scene in Sunday's episode that has had everyone talking, "Battle for Winterfell" or "Battle of the Bastards," resonated with me for two reasons. The first is the same as most people who watched it: the scene was epic — not epic in the way kids these days use the word, but in the sense of it being truly gargantuan and awesome. The second reason was the curiosity of the photographer in me on how something of that scale could be shot.
Well, it turns out a lot more of the scene was real than I had expected. In fact, I hadn't actually considered that there would be enough genuine videography on location that it would be of interest to photographers and videographers outside of those specializing in visual effects. I was wrong. The preparation for this scene must have been unfathomable. There were 80 horses, hundreds of extras, and even more props; that's without the crew and their equipment. Much of the footage was filmed by a cameraman who was in the midst of this fake but also scarily realistic battle. The video mentions that the cavalry charging Jon Snow was real (and they narrowly miss one another), as well as the cavalry coming from behind Kit Harrington. All I could think when I heard this was that a cameraman was having to film this while being essentially blind to his periphery and hoping not to get trampled to death.
The other question I had of how the horses were speed-matched and tracked so smoothly was answered. A Russian Arm is attached to a 4x4 and then remote-controlled to enable careful tracking of the subject. I looked up the specifications of the Russian Arm, and it really is an incredible piece of kit; it reaches up to 4.1 m and can climb as high as 2.4 m from the ground, it can rotate 360 degrees in 6 seconds, is fully remote controlled with a joystick, and requires a minimum of three technicians. You know your kit means business when it has a minimum crew requirement!