Weta Digital gets Emmy nod for zombie polar bear scene in Game of Thrones

Weta Digital's award-winning visual effects work features in some of the biggest films in recent memory, including James Cameron's Avatar, the Avengers and Lord of the Rings franchise. 

But now for the first time, the Wellington-based company is being recognised for its work in television - nominated for an Emmy for work on HBO's hit series Game of Thrones.

For years, Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss had fantasised about creating a zombie polar bear, writing it into four consecutive seasons of the hit HBO show.

"Only for Bernie and the visual effects guys to tell us in the nicest possible way, 'F**k you, we cannot afford a zombie polar bear'," Weiss said. 

But for the seventh season, they finally got their wish and called upon Wellington's film-industry heavyweights Weta Digital to bring to life their zombie bear dream. 

"We really wanted to look at doing television, they were looking for a company that could handle a fairly complicated, fairly sophisticated visual effects sequence - so it was really good timing I think," Weta digital visual effects supervisor Wayne Stables told Newshub.  

Staying true to form, the multi Oscar-winning company is receiving accolades for its television work, with Stables nominated for Outstanding Special Visual Effects at this weekend's Creative Arts Emmys. 

"A friend of mine, a colleague who works for another company, emailed me with a somewhat rude email about the fact we've done our first foray into television and we've already got an Emmy nomination - and we were less than amused by that fact," Stables said. 

The zombie bear took Stables nine months to design and build, appearing on screen for just five minutes of the 70-minute seventh season episode 'Beyond The Wall'.  

Stables says the outlay by HBO highlights the changing television landscape, with high-production visual effects becoming the norm and creating opportunities for companies like Weta Digital.