Ever wondered how the dragons on Game of Thrones are made? These animated terrors are featured in more scenes than ever this season, especially with Daenerys riding them into several key battles. There have also been some impressive close-up scenes, like when Jon Snow put his hand on Drogon, that show an impressive amount of emotion in the animated dragons.
To create the Game of Thrones dragons, HBO hired 14 visual effects firms from all over the world to work on the special effects. In addition to the dragons, special effects artists say they can create entire cities and landscapes, make actors look thinner or fatter, and add enhancements to faces. The visual effects team also includes people who work off the computer, like the “rigger” who built the skeleton for the dragons.
For Game of Thrones, visual effects supervisor Sven Martin said that giving the dragons the appearance of having emotions was the team’s biggest challenge.
“We wanted the visual effects to feel real, not artificial. Everything you see is based on real animals. We took the best parts of what nature gave us.”
In Season 5, the dragons were starving while locked in a dungeon. In an emotional scene when Tyrion encounters them, the visual effects team had to make the dragons look ferocious, hungry, sad, and lonely all at once. Their hard work pays off in scenes like that and in Season 7 when Jon Snow puts his hand on Drogon at the cliffs.
To give a realistic appearance to the mythical creatures, visual effects artists studied the real-life movement of lizards and bats. They then applied those movements to how the dragons move and fly. Season 7 has several exciting and key scenes involving the dragons, so HBO had to hire some visual effects companies on a contract basis to get all the scenes completed on time. With a budget of over $10 million per episode, a hefty chunk of that goes into making the Game of Thrones dragons look real and authentic.
Visual effects can sometimes save production money. For example, if you don’t have money to secure permits and travel to a specific location, it can sometimes be cheaper to just have the visual effects team create it and put your actors in front of a green screen. But when it comes to dragons, there’s no substitute to having amazing and creative visual effects that can transport the audience to a fantasy world.
[Featured Image by HBO]