As we enjoy the return of Breaking Bad and look forward to this fall’s strong television offerings, one thing tends to stay in the back of many of our minds: the countdown to season 4 of Game of Thrones. We’ve had a smattering of news on that front, and as fans await more details on just what will be included in next season’s storyline, we have two interesting videos pertaining to season 3.

Visual effects house Spin VFX provided over 200 special effects shots for Season 3 of Game of Thrones, including impressive renderings of the CGI crows that swarmed around Sam Tarly before he faced the White Walker, the composite sequences of Bran and Rickon’s Direwolves, the army of Unsullied acquired by Daenerys (almost entirely comprised of 3D CGI models), Mance Rayder’s wildlings camp, the detailed environment of The Wall, and more. Watch the video above.

One of the most intricate and incredible sequences of season 3 followed Jon Snow as he joined Ygritte and a small band of wildlings in climbing The Wall.

In a press release accompanying the VFX reel, Spin VFX provided details on the creation of the climb:

Jon Snow, Ygritte and the Wildlings climb the Wall, triggering a devastating ice slide. Comprised of over 80 shots, Spin created a 700′ ft wall, a couple miles in length (real world scale) that would hold up from any distance and any angle. Spin then simulated the entire ice slide event, shooting it from all cameras set up in the sequence that created a sense of scale and continuity over the sequence, playing out the action in real time.

“The Ice Wall was one of the most compelling sequences for us. The 3D build provided the camera range required to deliver the drama and fear of the climb, and of course, the realism of the ice slide,” says Doug Campbell, VFX Supervisor (The Borgias, Jack Reacher).

While the ever-impressive care and attention to detail applied to filling out the fantasy universe of Game of Thrones has been one of the show’s great strengths and pleasures, it’s worth noting how smart and often sparing the use of CGI tends to be in crafting these scenes. Rather than digitally create the entire world in green screen studio, CGI is used to augment the location shooting and is kept as far in the background as possible, never getting in the way of the story.

Speaking of the story, a deleted scene has been released online (far) ahead of the Blu-ray release of season 3 in February 2014. As fans of the show will recall, the character of Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) was revealed toward the end of season 1 to be far from the doddering, forgetful old man he pretended to be – and he didn’t exactly hold his maester’s vows terribly sacred, either.

In an exchange with Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), Pycelle is prodded to drop the act (and stop insulting Tywin’s intelligence) as he asks for reinstatement to his seat on the King’s small council.

Watch it below:

While the scene is entertaining in of itself, it does feel out of place. We already knew that Pycelle was slimy and that Tywin is smarter than just about everyone else around, so this gives us nothing new. The one interesting detail – aside from seeing Tywin “at leisure,” which is something we perhaps didn’t need – is Tywin’s defense of Tyrion’s decree as acting Hand of the King to remove Pycelle from his position and toss him in a cell, where he arguably belongs.

Given Tywin’s frequent disdain toward his son, this is a clue that Lord Tywin recognizes Tyrion’s intelligence and worth, but as a father whose standards are impossible to live up to, he withholds praise and recognition from him. Again, we already knew this about Tywin.

Given the sheer amount of plot still needed to cover from the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire, (the first half of which was used for Season 3 of the show), it’s no wonder the scene was dropped in favor of moving the story forward.

What did you think of the visual effects reel and deleted scene? Let us knowin the comments.

Game of Thrones season 4 will premiere on HBO in spring 2014.

Sources: Spin VFX