The “Battle Of The Bastards” on Sunday night’s Game Of Thrones was one of the grandest sword-swinging, blood-spilling throwdowns ever seen on television. Here’s how filmmakers turned 100 people into 1,000, “crashed” horses together without hurting them, how a sweet Land Rover camera rig captured the action.
(Spoilers below, I guess.)
The making of this insane battle is really pretty cool to see, even if you haven’t seen the show. I actually might start watching it after seeing this masterpiece scene come together.
But my favorite part was behind the camera. Or rather, below it– that righteous Land Rover Defender “Russian Arm” rig rolling in at about the 04:30 mark, used to get parallel footage of sprinting horses.
That vehicle is called the Vampyre BATT, as in Barbour All Terrain Tracking. And as you can see, it’s no ordinary Land Rover.
Before you even get into the camera equipment the truck runs a 450 horsepower Corvette-sourced V8 engine and sits on long travel desert-racer style suspension, according to the remote location specialists at Wildtrackers, who use it and other extreme camera-carrying vehicles to make videos in fantastical places.
Screen Facilities Scotland has some more pictures of it posting up on the Game Of Thrones set with a Side-By-Side ATV configured similarly, and BBC Earth Unplugged shot a little segment about the BATT being used to film camels and horses:
Looks like animal-chasing was the BATT’s primary mission for the Game Of Thrones filming too.
“A” Camera operator Sean Savage said they used the truck “on a muddy, slippery field over about 5- or 600 yards with very fast horses. That was the vehicle to chase them properly.”
The BATT basically carries an entire office on the back while dangling a camera off a long swiveling pole on top.
The full feature breakdown, as posted on Wildtrackers’ website:
- Roll cage… fully demountable in 3 sections depending on what is required.
- Tilt cover over cage for weather protection. Removable in 3 sections as per roll cage.
- 12 volt on board power to front and rear platforms
- 240 volt on board power… (underslung/removable 2.1KVA generator.)
- Roof mounting points for Pursuit Arm crane or Russian Arm.
- Extra platform for front and rear.
- Extra plating for bonnet and roof to enable them to be used as platforms.
- Scaffold fittings for rear deck when roll cage is removed.
- Peltor Wireless Dectcom intercom system linked to unit radio comms.
- Front mounted winch to enable vehicle to act as re-positionable crane base for difficult locations and for self loading of kit onto rear.
That “Russian Arm” we keep referencing is basically a stabilized stick to keep the camera mobile without letting it bounce too much.
As Filmotechnic USA explains; “Russian Arm Systems are remote control cranes mounted to customized Camera Car System vehicles and fitted with a Gyro-Stabilized Flight Head. Each system is operated via joystick controls from the inside of the Camera Car, or from a remote location and utilizes specialized monitors that display precisely what is captured on film. Shots can be completed in virtually any weather because crew is shielded inside.”
The arm is massive but the Land Rover definitely does not take it slow while shooting.
Most of the camera cars we see around Hollywood are Mercedes MLs or Porsche Cayenne SUVs, where the camera is controlled by a videographer comfortably seated inside. The BATT offers a lot more flexibility and modularity, but the folks running it are basically strapped to the outside right along with all the equipment they’re operating.
And they don’t have to crawl through a pile of corpses.
Hat tip to Sinhue Xavier!