As Daenerys’ dragons get bigger and bigger, she interacts with them more often. She rides them, climbs them, and yells “Dracarys!” at them.
And in last Sunday’s episode, we saw Drogon, her biggest and most beloved dragon, in action more than ever before. In the episode, Daenerys rides him over a field of battle as he roasts Lannisters left and right.
But what kind of work went into that scene? How do you make Daenerys’ dragon riding look real?
Business Insider recently talked to the “Father of Dragons,” Sven Martin. Martin is the VFX supervisor from Pixomondo Studios, and has been working on the dragons at Pixomondo Studios since season two of “Game of Thrones.”
Here’s what Martin had to say about the complications of animating a dragon when there’s a person (Daenerys) interacting with it.
'This is always the most difficult and trickiest part, when you are dealing with featured characters. There is always so much going on.'
'In season two, for example, (Daenerys) was wearing this little puppet on her shoulder and rehearsing the whole take,' Martin said. 'And then the puppet was taken off, and she had to play against nothing, which is very difficult for actors. Because while you're concentrated on the text and the lines, you have to imagine where the dragon is.'
'If it's just a dialogue scene or Dany talking to her dragons, it's important that she (actress Emilia Clarke) knows where to look at . . . where the eyes of the dragons would be.'
If Clarke doesn't know where to look at, then the scene won't look good once the dragons are put in on Pixomondo's end. Thankfully, Martin makes it clear that Clarke is a total pro when it comes to pretending that she's interacting with a dragon.
'It's important that you have a representation of the dragon's body on set, and that the actor has a hand contact. So the actor touches it, and the hand is moving how and where it should move.'
Martin told Business Insider that while he's been invited to the set, he's actually never had the opportunity to go. That's because while the film crew is hard at work shooting the show, his team at Pixomondo is already hard at work getting the dragons ready so the show will be ready on time.
'When Dany is climbing on the dragon and she's riding on the back, we want to make sure that she's really doing the movements the dragon is performing later.'
'To get this done, we do a pre-animation,' said Martin. 'Normally we start with animations after the shooting. But we did animation first, and then the performance was done on set with a mechanical rig, which was doing the same movements. So Emilia was really reacting on these movements. Later on, we put the dragon back onto or underneath Emilia and it's a perfect match.'
'Emilia made it visually a very natural performance. It's like riding on a horse. There's so much going on with the body of the rider, you can't cheat that afterwards.'
'Having Dany interact with the dragons is the most complicated thing to create, because you have a lot of preparation time, but it's a very technical set with this flight simulator and the performance. And then after shooting you have the lighting and connecting the performance with the dragons.'
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