HBO / VFX company Mackevision

In every life, we reach a point of maturity when our illusions are shattered, and the curtain is drawn back to reveal how the world actually works. Superman isn’t a real guy. The tooth fairy is just mom and dad. And the producers of Game Of Thrones didn’t actually build a 500-foot-tall wall of ice as a set for the HBO blockbuster.

No, at least some of the fantasy world of Westeros is created using CGI, as demonstrated in this new video (and series of stills that let you swipe between before and after images). The biggest surprise isn’t how much of Thrones is CGI, but how much of it isn’t. While it’s no shock to learn that the fake-looking Colossus statue that straddles the port of Braavos is fake, it’s surprisingly to see how many cityscapes from the series are real-life places with only a little bit of tinkering after the fact.

In fact, Westeros is far less CGI-dependent than the 1930s Atlantic City of Boardwalk Empire, which got its own glimpse behind-the-CGI a few years ago. Instead, most of Thrones’ iconic scenery is created from good old-fashioned location scouting and set dressing, with the occasional castle, army, or Great Sept Of Baelor digitally sprinkled in. So while the tooth fairy may not be real, you can sleep easy knowing that the beheading-and-torture-happy land of Game Of Thrones is closer than you think…

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