Northern Inuits double as direwolves
By Winter Is Coming on in News, Production.

ZunniWe’ve seen pics of the direwolves now, even had Ghost show up in the most recent trailer. I guess it is fair to say, opinions are mixed on how they look. Some say they are too dog-like. Personally, I think they look great. The breed of dog used is called Northern Inuit. They are bred to be wolf-like in appearance, but are friendlier and easier to train and handle.

The most recent post over at Lukoi Northern Inuits names Zunni as the dog playing Lady in Game of Thrones. Doing a bit more research we uncovered Zunni’s breeder’s website, with more photos of our Lady. We’ve since learned that the other older direwolves also came from this breeder. With the exception of Ghost, who came from a breeder in Scotland. The little pups all came from a local Northern Ireland breeder.

Winter Is Coming: I know many people think the direwolves look too much like dogs. But I think, given the restrictions the production had to work with, they look great. They couldn’t use real wolves as that is illegal in the UK and CGI is not only expensive, but it oftentimes looks cheesy. I much prefer a slightly dog-looking direwolf than one that looks too cartoonish. What do you think?


254 Comments

  1. Alien Tin
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’m reminded of the extremely cheesy CGI polar bear from Lost. If that’s the alternative, the dogs will do just fine.

  2. Opally
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    To me these Northern Inuits look like nice doggies. See what wolves look like here. Well done CGI, just a touch, could work, but I agree that cheesy CGI would be bad. Dire wolves are supposed to be scary!

  3. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Indeed, as little CGI as possible, especially in regards to animals. The dogs look just fine to me.

  4. The_Rabbit01
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Always nice doggie – Never CGI cartoonish beast!

  5. hulst
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I think that’s better than full CGI as well, but still…they don’t look really impressive, everyone should admit it…Yet – even if I don’t know much about these things – I guess that in the post-production phase, they can use CGI to make the dogs bigger, darker and more “direwolf-like”, so that the result, as we will see on the screens, will be quiet different from the pictures we see now. What do you guys think ? Is it possible ?

  6. Michelle
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t think CGI has reached the point where they could make direwolves that don’t look cheesy without breaking HBO’s budget. Fans will just need to accept that this is one of the many compromises HBO will need to make to see our beloved series adapted to TV. I think these dogs will do fine.

  7. Greylander
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I think dog-like is fine for when they are young — after all a good portion of what makes dogs different from wolves is that adult dogs retain some of the juvenile characteristics of wolf pups. I suspect that in subsequent seasons, subtle make-up, cgi, and camera work will be used to make them look larger and wilder. And if the show is a hit, later seasons may get more budget for cgi — most of which will go for the dragons, but some of which may go for the dire wolves.

    The dogs will also be trained, no doubt, to act ferocious — even “cute” dogs can look scary when they pull their lips back into a snarl.

  8. Arzki
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I love those dogs :)
    Can’t wait to see them in action!

  9. Rory Phillips
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I think they look great everything considered. There is a willing suspension of disbelief inherent in fantasy after all.

    They are never going to look like the picture in my head, no matter how many millions they spend. That is whats great about imagination. What is great about an adaptation of a book is getting a glimpse into anothers imagination.

  10. MirriMaz
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Animal CGI is usually trerrible and i’m willing to see the dogs as wolves,

  11. Blackfish Blues
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Critter post! Cute pics! Me likes! Endorphines!

    Well yes, they look like dogs. But remember we haven’t seen the final effect yet. An inkling of what the directors might do to make them fiercer is the image of Ghost in the trailer. He looks HUGE – while still looking like a huggable big softie. I hope they manage to add the red eyes to make him more scary.*

    *I have absolutely no experience in the breeding of dogs, but large dogs seem to like me. I meet totally unknown german shepherds who’ll make a beeline for me and smother me in slobber. Maybe they feel the lack of fear. That’s why my direwolf comments are not reliable; the bigger they are, the more huggable they look to me.

  12. triffidfarmer
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Although they don’t look exactly like wolves, I’m okay with them for now. They still look alright and saves all the fuss of CGI. May have to be a bit creative with camera angles if they use them in future season though…

  13. Nutwood
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    They look good to me. I hate bad CGI. The question is, can they act?

  14. Cathy G
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I think they look fantastic! All anyone has to do is look at the TWILIGHT series and imagine the CGI nightmare that could have been GOT Direwolves. All the Twihards would start claiming that HBO stole the idea from their precious series. Just the thought of that conversation makes me want to vomit. So, again, they look BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  15. Nathan
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    First of all, I think the dogs are beautiful and perfectly appropriate for direwolves. Yes, direwolves should be big, deadly creatures, but that doesn’t mean they should look scary. As a former wolf-”owner” (I use the term lightly; “alpha” might be more appropriate), I think wolves don’t (and shouldn’t) look scary. But that doesn’t make them any less capable of tearing your throat out if that’s what they feel like doing.

    Anyhow, for the first season — maybe for the first two — I think these dogs will be perfect for the role. Afterwards, as they grow up, something will need to be done with them. I don’t think 3D CGI would be advisable, but hopefully some effect effect similar to what was used to shrink the hobbits in LOTR will allow them to embiggen the direwolves while remaining within HBO’s budget. These critters do need to grow up to be BIG; that’s an important element to the story. When Robb walks into a room with Grey Wind padding along behind him, everybody else needs to shrink back a little, with a perceptible look of “whoah shit, what is that?” on their faces. To be missing that element would actually undercut the feel of the story pretty significantly, I think.

  16. Rocksteady
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Well…i literally had a nightmare about getting to see a preview screening of the show…and it was so cheesy that everyone was laughing and pointing at it. HAHAHAHAHA. soooo….i guess my greatest fear is that of cheese (which is insane….because…well…..god damn cheese is delicious.).

    With that said…..definitely ok with real dogs then cheesy effects. i don’t want Hercules on the screen.

    Hell, remember those dogs in Willow? they were scary and were just dogs!!!

  17. Katja
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I think they look great. Looking at the breeder’s photos I think they were a good choice. In general body shape and colour markings some of them are quite wolfish. Still dogs, but that’s okay by me. They’re not supposed to look like normal wolves anyway.

    PS: Having seem wolves in zoos, I have to say what strikes me as different about them isn’t their body shape or look though. It’s the way they move, and are obviously wild animals. The direwolves aren’t domesticated, but they are tame and would probably remind us a bit of dogs anyway just because they orient themselves after their masters.

  18. Sekhmet
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I think we have to accept the fact that not everything will be perfect in a screen adaptation. I think these dogs do look pretty d*** wolfy.

  19. mummer
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Opally,
    No dog in the world is going to look scary if you’re looking at photos from the breeder, unless the breeder is looking to sell attack dogs.

  20. Jim Ticka
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I don’t like them, but its not gonna ruin the thing for me or anything. Isn’t it possible to use CGI to tweak them without it being cheesy? Complete fabrications, à la 300, would almost certainly suck, but slight changes to make them more unnatural… well its all pointless at this juncture.

  21. Victoria Cole
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I think the dog looks fine. I am more concerned about the acting on the show and whether they follow the gist of book.

  22. Spartan
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Blackfish Blues: Critter post! Cute pics! Me likes! Endorphines!

    Hahaha!! Love your comments!!
    I think dogs are quite well as long as they appears in the first season… but, later, if there are a second or third season (i hope so) we need somewhat else

  23. shadallion
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “I suspect that in subsequent seasons, subtle make-up, cgi, and camera work will be used to make them look larger and wilder. And if the show is a hit, later seasons may get more budget for cgi — most of which will go for the dragons, but some of which may go for the dire wolves.”

    This.

  24. reedgirl
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I love them! I think they are so beautiful, and the possible bit of special effects/CGI they’ll do post-production (for close-ups, facial/eye expressions, maybe even tooth size/color/shape) will be enough for me to see them as the Stark children’s direwolves. Like I’ve said before, the magic in the direwolves is in what they DO as the story progresses, and what they mean to the kids (not what they look like).

  25. Alan
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Doing anything CGI is either going to be incredibly expensive or look awful. And even if it looks okay now, it’s going to age horribly.

    Animals that look more feral would have been better, yes, but there’s the whole safety/acting/legality concern. And even if you could get that, then there’s the size issue.

    This won’t be popular, but I think D&D should have considered killing the direwolf-as-giant concept and simply made them wolves or changed them to different but larger dogs (perhaps English mastiffs – they can be huge).

    It’s a really neat thing and the direwolves absolutely hooked me from second one… but I’m not sure how they “go big” without making it awful.

    If they have the budget, wonderful. But they already have dragons to worry about. And the Others (though they may be dodging that as long as possible).

    The strength of ASOIF is the characters. I’ve never understood the concern over an actor’s looks compared to their acting. And the same is true of the direwolves. Would it be awesome if they were huge? Yes. Is it more important to understand the symbolic link to the North and what they mean about the Stark children? Yes.

  26. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    mummer,

    so true, we’ve barely seen any photos of the direwolves and its not photos of them at a point where they needed to look scary. I’m sure when the time comes for them to pounce on people and snarl they’ll look plenty scary.

  27. SA_Avenger
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m ok with them looking like they do so far, but I do expect them to be a pony size later on so hopefully by season 2 there will be a change (wolves or cgi or size tricks I don’t personnaly mind) because there must be fear involved in those direwolves :)

  28. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I have complained on the choice of dogs earlier but then I only had Lady to go by. Snow looked far better. I withhold judgement until I see the final result. As someone said above it is now much up to lighting and post production effects.
    Much will also depend on how they move on screen. My dog runs just like wolf and I hope these dogs will too.

  29. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I think a more important question is whether or not the breeder has read at least A Game of Thrones out loud to the dogs.

  30. Phoenix_torn
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    clap clap :)

  31. top6
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I think it is far more important that the audience have an emotional connection with the dire wolves than that they be big and scary. Keep in mind, one of them will be dying fairly early on in the series – probably 3rd or 4th episode – and another will be forced to abandon the Starks. If they are using real dogs, these could and should be some of the most moving scenes in the first seasons, and could be a real hook for casual viewers to have an “oh crap I really care about these characters and this story” moment. (Although I am worried it could have the opposite impact on animal lovers, and cause them to stop watching, but oh well those people probably would not have enjoyed the rest anyway.) No way could that work with CGI, or even real wolves, imo. You can probably count on one hand the movies that have created CGI creatures that most audience members really cared about, and in almost all cases those were blockbusters where the director had years and $100 million + to work with. Real dogs are needed here, I think.

  32. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Another plus for using dogs over wolves… It was pretty obvious watching True Blood that they were kind of limited with what they could do with the wolves. Everything involving the wolves seemed a bit staged( running through an open field, standing by itself in a staged shot baring its teeth, etc — not a lot of interaction with the actors. )

  33. Lianwar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Opally:See what wolves look like here

    And this is what dire wolves look like.

  34. Martin
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I would agree on the restrictions, and being the best approach given costs / likely naff CGI alternatives etc.

    My worry is that they don’t readily inspire the fear and shock that they do in the books (which seems to be driven principally from size), and there are certain key scenes where that is likely to have an impact upon plot. It may be that these changes are insignificant but I’m not sure, they look to me slightly ‘fragile’ put one of those up against an armoured knight and I’d put my money on the knight.

    As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t think they have really had any workable alternative though.

    They look damned cute though, and as for the publicity shots with the pups ….

  35. The Funyun Knight
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Alien Tin: I’m reminded of the extremely cheesy CGI polar bear from Lost. If that’s the alternative, the dogs will do just fine.    

    QFE.

    As much as I was hoping for something reminiscent of Maugrim from the Narnia films, I’ll take a slightly wolfish dog over a CGI monstrosity any day. In terms of CGI animals, I’m fretting more about the dragons than the direwolves.

  36. Silvio
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty surprised that they used northen inuit for the job. I always thought that they had used Czech wolves for it ( czeck wolf on google ). In my opinion the Czech wolfs are much suitable for the direwolfes part then Northen Inuit are…..the inuits are too “doggy”…

  37. Prankster
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, I’ve always found there to be a huge disconnect between how wolves are portrayed in fiction and how they actually appear when you see them. I’ve never seen a real wolf and gone “ooh, scary”. They just look too much like scruffy dogs. (The fact that they almost never attack humans in real life doesn’t help.) So I’m not sure how we were ever going to get direwolves that looked real AND were supposedly terrifying. I’m less down on CGI critters than some here, but obviously you need a substantial budget and the kind of time and effort that goes into a big-budget movie to really pull them off.

    I wouldn’t worry about the hugeness in later seasons, though. You can do a surprising amount with forced perspective and a bit of bluescreen. The hobbits in LOTR were pulled off mostly with forced perspective; not only is it generally cheaper than CGI (depending on how elaborate the shots you want to pull off), it looks far more naturalistic.

  38. ACH
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Whats going to happen as the story progresses, cus in the books Dire wolves grow quite larg. is that when you will have to turn to CGI?

  39. Raziel
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Opally,

    totally agree with you!

  40. Smegma
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE the look of the dogs/wolves. I am staunchly against overuse of CGI and I would rather have a more normal looking animal that they have to use camera tricks for than something horribly fake. In movies they always look bad – and their budgets for special effects are enormous! I think they look wonderful as is.

    I also don’t think real wolves would have looked any better. Plus safety concerns and all that – I think they made the absolute right choice.

    I also think it is important to note that while the direwolves did take part in battles and such, it is their relationship to the Starks that is more important than their ferocity. They are more symbolic than weapons of terror.

  41. Jack
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the feats Grey Wind accomplishes in the books these doggies just don’t look large enough to me. All CGI and wolf concerns aside, why not pick a larger kind of dog? Or, at least, with some clever camera placement make them appear larger on screen? After all, I cannot see a Grey Wind of this size rip out the throat of 20 armoured men in a battle…

  42. izakmo
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    i have no problem with the dogs not looking enough like wolves. i worry more about how they’ll be made to look huge. i can think of movies where they use forced perspecive to make people look giant or small (LOTR, Green Mile), but not animals.

    the production used a different dead mother wolf prop when they refilmed the scene where the starks find the puppies. it looked smaller than the one in the original leaked photos. the direwolves don’t really need to be the size of ponies, just larger than real wolves.

    i’m the sort of fan who will be stoked with just about anything they turn out, but i do prefer the route they’re taking over cgi.

  43. jdp13
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this was the best option when you look at it realistically. I think it’ll be fine. Curious if they’ll try to use forced perspective to make them look larger than they are.

  44. Caedes
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    My 2 cents

    - They will keep the size of the direwolves. We’ve seen the MASSIVE direwolf corpse built for the finding scene. They cannot show that and then go back.
    - What would people say if they make ghost’s eyes read and not change to purple the Targaryen’s siblings?

  45. Caedes
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    After seeing LOTR extras quite a few times, I’m not quite sure forced perspective could work with animals: the marks had to be exact, and most of the time the actors are looking into blank space in order to improve the illusion. I find it dauntingly difficult to achieve with animal actors, no matter how well they’re trained.

  46. Geoff
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I could have sworn i saw a picture somewhere of Jon Snow picking up Ghost, he was just a pup and in the bottom of the frame was a mountain of fur, which i can only assume is supposed to be the dead Direwolf. So in a perfect world they would use the Dog’s while the wovles were supposed to be pups. Than switch to CGI or a mixture of both when the Direwolves mature. There is all kinds of camera tricks they can use to make the dogs appear larger than they are. Simply putting a samller dog of similar breed on camera beside them would do the trick. Long story short love the dogs.

  47. Kieriyn
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I was worried that the dogs would be too light colored and Ghost wouldn’t stand out enough. And Greywind and Shaggydog would be too light. However, looking that the website at the various show animals they have (especially the males) it looks like some of them can get quite dark markings. The one they have playing Lady is one of the lighter ones.

    So it looks like they could go darker without having to use CGI or even dye.

  48. sjwenings
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    top6: Personally, I think it is far more important that the audience have an emotional connection with the dire wolves than that they be big and scary. Keep in mind, one of them will be dying fairly early on in the series – probably 3rd or 4th episode – and another will be forced to abandon the Starks. If they are using real dogs, these could and should be some of the most moving scenes in the first seasons, and could be a real hook for casual viewers to have an “oh crap I really care about these characters and this story” moment. (Although I am worried it could have the opposite impact on animal lovers, and cause them to stop watching, but oh well those people probably would not have enjoyed the rest anyway.) No way could that work with CGI, or even real wolves, imo. You can probably count on one hand the movies that have created CGI creatures that most audience members really cared about, and in almost all cases those were blockbusters where the director had years and $100 million + to work with. Real dogs are needed here, I think.  Quote  Reply

    Thats a really good point. Sold!

  49. minus
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I think the dogs are completely fine for the first season, since the direwolves aren’t supposed to be full grown until later. Assuming there is a season two, I hope the production team uses a combination of real dogs and animatronics, in order to get the scale right.

    If they use CGI at all, they should follow GRRM’s rules regarding magic: only a bit here, a touch there. Avoid “over spicing” the product.

  50. furrever
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Winter–live animals beat out crappy CGI every time. Of course nirvana would be to have great CGI, but that’s a luxury that we’ll have to wait for until later seasons (depending on how well the show performs).

    My only concern is how they look in scenes where they are attacking. In those scenes I hope it’s convincing that they are truly vicious and terrifying animals capable of ripping one’s throat out if provoked. I think it’s fine if they look like friendly dogs in all other contexts. After all, they are (somewhat) tame having been raised by the Stark kids, which would make them more dog-like in behavior than a truly wild wolf.

  51. userj
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  52. Harry Hogg
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Thing is we have to care about these dire wolfs almost as much as the Stark children since they do play an important role in the story and I imagine they will continue to do so, especially Ghost and Summer

  53. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I have anything new to add, but I too am glad they didn’t go the cgi route. Generally, even some of the big-budget scif-fi comes of as cheesy to me, and animals almost always are. I think it’s the way the eyes look– they always have this strange, fake, cutesy look that makes me cringe.

    That said, one of the real difficulties, as others have pointed out, is explaining just why non-Starks are so affected by the direwolves when they are large dogs. I don’t think cgi would fix the problem, and actually, I think it would negate the benefit of using real animals in the first place.
    It’s not so much of an issue is season 1, and since most of the direwolves are dead/fled pretty early in the series, it might not be as bad as it sounds. Ghost is really the only one they have to be all that immediately concerned with, and I’m wondering if maybe the whiteness of the world behind the wall could actually be used to help create a sense that he is larger.

  54. userj
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Caedes,

    Well, animal actors are trained to go to marks, so it’s not that hard to imagine. True, the animal might not be looking where he’s supposed to, but the actor can.

    As for physical interactions between dog and actor, a lot of that can be done using raised platforms and such. The dog can be trained to sit or stand on a 1 foot platform to make his back reach the actor’s chest, then the camera will cut off below the waist and the dog will look tall.

  55. gurgi
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Nathan: First of all, I think the dogs are beautiful and perfectly appropriate for direwolves. Yes, direwolves should be big, deadly creatures, but that doesn’t mean they should look scary. As a former wolf-”owner” (I use the term lightly; “alpha” might be more appropriate), I think wolves don’t (and shouldn’t) look scary. But that doesn’t make them any less capable of tearing your throat out if that’s what they feel like doing.Anyhow, for the first season — maybe for the first two — I think these dogs will be perfect for the role. Afterwards, as they grow up, something will need to be done with them. I don’t think 3D CGI would be advisable, but hopefully some effect effect similar to what was used to shrink the hobbits in LOTR will allow them to embiggen the direwolves while remaining within HBO’s budget. These critters do need to grow up to be BIG; that’s an important element to the story. When Robb walks into a room with Grey Wind padding along behind him, everybody else needs to shrink back a little, with a perceptible look of “whoah shit, what is that?” on their faces. To be missing that element would actually undercut the feel of the story pretty significantly, I think.    

    This is exactly how I feel. I hope they can do a bit of work to make them appear to be massive. I think they are nearly the size of a pony at full growth.

  56. Luke likely
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I like the dogs. I think what will be more important is the feel we get from them in certain scenes. Like the dream scenes, the connection with the children. they should have an other worldly feel to them. I liked seeing ghost with jon. ghost looked like a dog but he reminded me of that dog from Lost Boys, you know the one that attacks the mother.I thought ghost had a dark fantasy or other worldly feel about him

  57. dizzy_34
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with their appearance, I just hope for continuity’s sake (with the mother direwolf prop being huge and all) they make them big somehow in the (hopefully) seasons to come.

  58. Luke likely
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Caedes: My 2 cents- They will keep the size of the direwolves. We’ve seen the MASSIVE direwolf corpse built for the finding scene. They cannot show that and then go back.
    - What would people say if they make ghost’s eyes read and not change to purple the Targaryen’s siblings?    

    I think ghost’s red eyes and white fur is more important because of the connection with the wierwood trees. plus their will probably be more scenes with Dany than with Ghost so probably cheaper to change ghost’s eyes

  59. Zack
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    This is the one area where I just can’t fool my brain into pretending differently. Everything we’ve seen of the show and the wolves they just don’t look right. Combination of size, ferocity (less of an issue in the early going, though…), mouth/nose/ear shape primarily. And I’m not even really an expert on wolves, but I can still tell the difference pretty much effortlessly.

    I’m still pretty sure they’re going to be doing camera tricks to help out and ultimately how it works in the series should be fairly decent, but still photos just look lame. They going to rewrite bits of the story so that Westeros doesn’t have dogs? If dogs were a common pet it would probably stick out even more, because the instant one of these ‘wolves’ comes up against a dog…lol. How would you tell the difference?

  60. Zack
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    That said, budgetary limitations (and effects limitations–full CGI wolves don’t look great either) mean there really isn’t a perfect way to solve this.

    Green screens/forced perspective would be my ultimate preference for later on in the series. and season one…well, just don’t show them with other dogs I guess lol. Maybe touch up features with some CGI, if possible? But why would they want to spend boatloads of money on CGI wolves that look unrealistic (I’m thinking of that scene from 300 with the wolf)? If it’s going to look unrealistic either way, save the money for things you CAN make realistic.

  61. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    As someone has already pointed out, the size of the dead mother gives us a good hint. She is massive.

    Everyone in Westeros knows the Stark children have dire wolves, which are considerably larger than normal wolves and are the symbol of their house. If what we are seeing in the picture is a dire wolf, then one must draw the conclusion that normal wolves in Westeros will be the size of a squirrel.

    I understand the budget limitations among others, but the wolves must definitely have an aura of power, because it is one of the mainstream points in the story and definitely not a minor issue. It’s ok if they look like puppies in season one, but a full grown dire wolf must not make you wonder if it could beat a squire armed with a pointed stick.

  62. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Zack
    I They going to rewrite bits of the story so that Westeros doesn’t have dogs? If dogs were a common pet it would probably stick out even more, because the instant one of these ‘wolves’ comes up against a dog…lol. How would you tell the difference?    

    Admittedly, that thought had also crossed my mind.
    My guess is, as someone else said, they’ll probably have the direwolves at a higher level of turf than the actors so that they seem taller. Since they probably won’t be seen next to any ordinary dogs it won’t be an issue (hypothetically) since the audience will already have been deceived into thinking the direwolves are taller.

  63. Martin
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m wondering on plot implications with adopting dogs rather than more formidable larger dire-wolves. There appears on the face of it that there is nothing too significant in dropping the ‘terrifying-ness’ of the wolves in GoT – sure it changes a few things, but nothing that would appear to have a major knock on the overall plot arc.

    Beyond GoT and into aCoK & aSoS – there would appear to be more impact in using dogs – particularly with Ghost/Jon beyond the wall and the development with the Wildlings. Their fear of Ghost is pretty fundamental.

    The key impact may well be for aDwD – and in particular Bran/Summer and Bran’s skin-changing ability. I’m going OT a bit here, so forgive me. Summer seems to have a pivotal role in the development of Bran – and it could be that this manifests itself with Bran using Summers physical prowess. I know Steelwind has raised some interesting ideas on this site on how Bran will develop later in the series, with respect to a certain dragon, but I also think Summer may well be critical too.

    I’m just not sure if the use of ‘dogs’ will dovetail with the plot later on.

  64. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Zack,

    Yeah, that’s my point. Nobody in Westeros would ever talk about the Stark kids’ wolves if they looked like common dogs would they? And they’re mentioned quite a few times, specially Grey Wind which you may remember is talked about in a couple of combat scenes that make you wonder if an armored oversized velocirraptor could do better.

  65. hija
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I have no problem with the direwolves looking a little bit like dogs (those dogs are extraordinarly wolf-like), and I like them much better than CGI.
    My only concern with them is that, well, they don’t look like pups. They look like grown-up animals.
    Pups have bigger heads, bigger paws, different proportions from an adult dog or wolf. I find it impossible to look at the animal in the picture and try to believe that it’s just a pup and it will grow up.

  66. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Zack: They going to rewrite bits of the story so that Westeros doesn’t have dogs? If dogs were a common pet it would probably stick out even more, because the instant one of these ‘wolves’ comes up against a dog…lol. How would you tell the difference? Zack

    My original thought aswell

  67. Martin
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    ahhhh – can someone correct my spoiler tags in above post – thought i was on another forum and use wrong tags

    Sorry

  68. hija
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    What I mean is. That’s how a norther inuit pup looks like:
    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1314/653293489_36b45338ff.jpg

    And that’s how the direwolves should look for a big part of the 1st season. At leas, Lady, who doesn’t get to live more than a few months shouldn’t look as old as the actor dog does.

  69. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to add that the scene we see of Summer coming to Bran’s defense in the 15-minute preview, he seemed pretty intimidating. It was only some quick shots but the growling, flash of fur, bared teeth and an audible crunch helped get the point across. So I’m not too worried about these dogs not looking fierce enough in the photos we’ve seen. When the time comes for them to be ferocious, I think the NIs will do the trick.

  70. hija
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this one really does look like a wolf. I mean, the head is a bit broader and dog-like but look at the stance!! And it is all white. It would had been a wonderful Ghost:
    ghost 1
    ghost 2

  71. KG
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather have poodles wearing I M A DIREWOLF shirts than CGI monstrosities.

    I have this wonderful thing called an “imagination.” I’ll be ok with dogs.

  72. Zack
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    hija: Wow, this onereally does look like a wolf. I mean, the head is a bit broader and dog-like but look at the stance!! And it is all white. It would had been a wonderful Ghost:
    ghost 1
    ghost 2    

    Yeah, those are close enough that I could be fooled. Good call.

  73. The Rabbit
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    KG,

    I’d rather have poodles wearing I M A DIREWOLF shirts than CGI monstrosities.

    This!

  74. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Lianwar,

    I’m not sure what your point is Lianwar?

    If you’re referencing all that art to say that peoples’ perceptions of what a Direwolf should be differ, I get that. If you think a particular look is the right one, which one and on what basis?

  75. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see how they go about to make these dogs un-doglike.
    Even as pups they stand out among the other dogs in the dinehall. Even the biggest and meanest dogs back away and lets the direwolves have the scraps.
    I wonder how they will portrait this.
    Any ideas?

  76. understeaker
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    hija,

    i think this one is even better
    http://cheezburger.com/View/680977152

  77. Critical Geek
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2008/06/the-return-of-canis-lupus-the-case-for-reintroduction/
    compare that to the lead picture.
    Err..what’s the problem again? Should the animal actors wear fur vests? That would look silly!

  78. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    The Dire Wolf was larger than the Gray Wolf, averaging about 1.5 metres (5 ft) in length and weighing about 110 kg (240 lb). Despite superficial similarities to the Gray Wolf, there were significant differences between the two species. The legs of the Dire Wolf were proportionally shorter and sturdier than those of the Gray Wolf, and its brain case was smaller than that of a similarly-sized gray wolf.

    DentitionThe Dire Wolf’s teeth were similar to the Gray Wolf’s, only slightly larger pointing to a hypercarnivorous to mesocarnivorous activity. Paleontologist R.M. Nowak states the dietary characteristics are primarily carnivorous as well as partially omnivorous.

    Many paleontologists have proposed that the Dire Wolf may have used its relatively large teeth to crush bone, an idea that is supported by the frequency of large amounts of wear on the crowns of their fossilized teeth. The upper carnassials had a much larger blade than that of the Gray Wolf, indicating greater slicing ability. It had a longer temporal fossa and broader zygomatic arches, indicating the presence of a large temporalis muscle capable of generating slightly more force than a Gray Wolf’s. However, other scientists have noted that the dorsoventral and labiolingual force profiles are indistinguishable from those of other canids such as coyotes and African wild dogs, indicating a similar diet. Dire wolf teeth lacked the craniodental adaptations of habitual bonecrushers such as hyenas and borophagines.[10] The dorsoventrally weak symphyseal region indicates it killed in a manner similar to its modern relatives, by delivering a series of shallow bites, strongly indicating pack hunting behaviour. However, the incidence of broken post-carnassial molars is much higher than in fossil Grey Wolves, indicating that the species was probably less adapted to bone crushing than the Grey Wolf.

  79. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    The dogs will probably do very well and they will obviously look real and lifelike. I’m certainly happy with the path they’ve chosen to walk when it comes to the direwolves.

    The problem with CGI isn’t just that it has a big risk of not looking too good, you also have to ask yourself what you want to look worse in order to save money to pay for the direwolf CGI.

    hija,

    Those are nice pictures and certainly something that gives extra hope for the series.

  80. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    It is mainly the legs on the dogs that are my greatest concern. The legs shows how big a dog is going to get.
    I think this have could have been a nice way to go about it, making the legs broader and thicker with cgi.
    Snow seems to have nice thick legs. Lady though must have been malformed from birth

  81. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Czarnian,

    GRRM has said something along the lines that he’s not interested in the physics of his dragons. There is nothing to indicate that his use of the term Dire Wolf means anything other than big scary wolf. There is no particular need for the production to hold true to evidence of what they were actually like on earth.

    Peter Jackson’s FX team used the fossil record of Marsupial Lions for their Dire Wolves, and whilst I think they looked pretty cool in closeup, I was initially put off by them not looking wolfy enough, and I thought their movement looked ‘off’ somehow.

  82. OneTooFree
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    from all the previews we’ve seen so far, the dire wolves are my least favorite thing so far. i don’t mind the Targaryen’s eyebrows or Dinklage’s accent as much as i do the look of the “wolves” they have chosen.

    yes, i realize that for most of the first season they are puppies, but Summer still has to be menacing & vicious enough to have us believe he can tear out the throat of Bran’s would-be assassin. and Grey Wind has to be big enough to take down the Greatjon & bite off a few of his fingers.

    i fully realize that my problem is a result of the disconnect between what i had envisioned in my mind’s eye and the limited amount of images i’ve been presented with to this point. i hope that my first impressions are shattered with how well these Northern Inuits perform and look on screen. but for right now, i have my reservations…

  83. Rinoa De la Pica
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming: Just wanted to add that the scene we see of Summer coming to Bran’s defense in the 15-minute preview, he seemed pretty intimidating. It was only some quick shots but the growling, flash of fur, bared teeth and an audible crunch helped get the point across. So I’m not too worried about these dogs not looking fierce enough in the photos we’ve seen. When the time comes for them to be ferocious, I think the NIs will do the trick.

    That’s interesting! So they didn’t use any special effects for that scene? Just the dog and some sound effects? I was a bit worried about you-know-which-scenes of Grey Wind at the end of the first book.

  84. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed,

    Well, the problem with that will be for the general audience when they hear the name “direwolf” which is a specified species.
    It would be like saying this is a mammoth and showing an elephant.
    or a sabretoothed tiger while showing a puma.

    The wisest way to go would perhaps to let the direwolves be just wild dogs also by name….or some unknown species.

  85. DH87
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Forced perspective, quick cuts, silhouettes, close ups of snarling faces (which are obtained in real life by offering, then removing meat/bones from both wolf and dog animal actors), partial views, CGI touch ups—-these will make it work well enough for the viewer to supply the last 10 percent via imagination.

  86. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Czarnian,

    Just FYI. GRRM’s descriptions of the direwolves run almost opposite to what you posted here (ie. direwolves in Westeros have longer legs, not shorter legs), so the ‘real’ direwolf information you post here is a complete waste of everyone’s time.

  87. Joakim
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Wolves actually have many different looks, there’s no standard wolf look.

    Here’s just an example of the variety within Alaska:
    http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Wolf_and_Bear.htm

    And here’s a british wolf:
    http://www.alpha-gruppen.com/anglian_wolves/a_ulv2_800_2.jpg

    While Lady doesn’t look exactly wolf-like, because of her thin muzzle, I don’t think it’s that far off at all. And thank the seven she’s not CGI.

  88. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    You think that post was a waste of time? What about this post?

  89. loco73
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    To me the doggie looks very nice and can most definitely pass for a wolf, it reminds me very much of the Huskies, and those dogs are fierce and if you see them at the North Pole, some of them make wolves look like little puppies. These dogs I think will do fine. CGI alternatives, if not done properly can look not just cheesy but unconvincing….”The Golden Compass” is a prime example of that!

    PS As if many of you don’t already know, Patrick Rotfuss’s second installment of “The Kingkiller Chronicle”, titled “Day 2: The Wiseman’s Fear” will finally hit shelves on this March. Which is just as well for me since I am about halfway through his excellent first installment “The Name Of The Wind”. Lets hope GRRM will soon boast his release…I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  90. Nicole
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I would rather have wolves or something wolf adjacent. The Direwolves are a HUGE part of the Stark storyline, which is one of the most important Houses in the series. Not to mention, direwolves just freaking rock!

    Also, everyone keeps talking about cheesy CGI but how do we know it would look cheesy, and who knows how much CGI direwolves would cost? I mean aren’t we throwing around alot of talk based on not much but convenient theories as to why one of the most anticipated aspects is a big SIGH at this point?

    In addition, we can’t use dogs or parrots for Dany’s lot. So, that kinda nulls the whole “I pick natural over CGI debate” or “CGI is too expensive for HBO”.

    Direwolves are more ferocious than wolves and wolves definitely aren’t dogs, so it sucks that they have chosen to use dogs. Could it work? Maybe. I just don’t know anything about CGI, so how can I defend the use or nonuse of that option?

    What I do know is the only thing the last teaser was missing was a white direwolf slinking out behind the Iron Throne, blood red eyes glaring, teeth bared, but instead we had a big friendly dog, that I believe was smiling. Other than it’s size, I was not impressed. I trust HBO though, they haven’t shown us their full hand yet — not even close!

  91. Czarnian
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Nicole,

    That echoes my gf’s words after I made her watch the last trailer.
    She thought the white dog was cute.
    It made me clench my jaws a bit….

  92. Mr. Frey
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I think the NI are the right choice. They look beautiful and wolf-like.

    There will be people who want to dismiss this show as mere fantasy, and I think they will stop watching after the first fake-looking CGI wolf. But with the NI, they’ll be emotionally invested in the animals along with the Starks.

    Also, it’s easy to make the direwolves badass without making them huge. If everybody flinches at the wolves presence, or they are unnaturally fast, otherworldly or particularly bloodthirsty — the viewer will get the point. Show Summer killing a man, quickly, efficiently, and brutally — the viewer will stop thinking: doggie!

    Eventually the CGI crowd will have their dragons — which is great. I’m not worried about how the dragons will look–even if they are cheaply done. But then again, I’ve never seen a dragon before.

  93. Joakim
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    One thing I did notice in the photo of Sansa walking Lady is that she certainly doesn’t look like a pup. She’s skinny and elegant, not chubby and cute as most pups are. But I can live with that, I’ve never seen a direwolf pup so what do I know :)

  94. Blackfish Blues
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Spartan:
    Hahaha!! Love your comments!!
    I think dogs are quite well as long as they appears in the first season… but, later, if there are a second or third season (i hope so) we need somewhat else

    Thx :)

    Yes, in future seasons larger beings will be needed, but the art of visual effects is growing apace, improving with extraordinary speed. Maybe by Autumn 2011 (shooting of Season 2?) they will have more refined techniques that will turn the huggable Ghost into a lean, mean killing machine.

    I hated the wargs in LOTR. As creatures on their own, they were pretty well made. But when a human interacted with them, e.g. jumped on their back, it looked utterly FAKE. That’s why I tend to nix CGI, but I also dream of a technique that allows for a limited use of CGI and a better interaction with human actors.

  95. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Nicole,

    Actually GRRM’s direwolves actually have some traits that differ more towards dogs from wolves than the actual direwolves that existed in our world (legs, for example).

    As for how we know the direwolves wouldn’t look good, no one of course knows but speculations can be firmly based on wolflike creatures in movies. The wargs in LotR was one of the more criticized effects as far as maintaining a realistic look and the budget that went into those (including that they could do it cheaper since Jackson owns WETA) is certainly beyond GoT. You’ll have to compare with some far cheaper movies to get a good comparison (which is also shown by GRRM begging fans to understand that this show will certainly not look like LotR).

    As for dragons being CGI, of course they will have to be, but you do realize that the dragon CGI budget would have to be severely cut down in order to do direwolf CGI as well, right? That or cutting the budget of other areas. We can’t treat this like spoiled children in a store, just getting whatever they point at. Everyone must realize that anything we want that costs more (and the direwolves would likely cost a lot) means that we have less to spend on other things. That means that any serious suggestion that they should use CGI should be accompanied with examples of other things they could cut down on.

  96. Tusuri
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    While this is a forum for discussion, and all complaints are fair, aren’t some of you behaving like spoiled children? :D All concerns are legit, but, please, cry me a river. I’m no expert on the magic of film but I’m quite sure they can be convincing with whatever tricks at their disposal, and to put it in words, so what if they look adorable? Shit, there is nothing scarier than a huggable-looking animal that can go all bat-shit crazy on your ass :P at a moment’s notice.

    Peace out, ladies and gents, from nowadays ass-cold Spain :)

  97. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: As for dragons being CGI, of course they will have to be, but you do realize that the dragon CGI budget would have to be severely cut down in order to do direwolf CGI as well, right? That or cutting the budget of other areas.

    Another thing to remember is that realistically animated fur is much harder and more expensive to achieve than the scales of a dragon. For this reason, if they only had X amount of dollars to spend on the CGI animation budget, I would much rather it go to making spectacular dragons and live with dog-life wolves, than try to split the costs and end up with neither creature looking very good.

  98. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I think anyone who says they are “happy” with the direction HBO went with the dogs is lying to themselves. This is clearly one of the compromises we have to make as fans of the books. In our head we picture very intimidating wolves that strike fear in the hearts of men, and make other dogs howl and slink away.
    We don’t get that, or even real life wolves, or even wolf hybrids.
    We get dogs.
    And I won’t complain. I’ll be a bit disappointed, and my judgment is open to change after actually viewing the show, but I will take what HBO gives me and say thank you.
    They can make it up to me in a heartbeat by making the dragons ROCK.
    (and after the show is a hit, dumping some serious dough in the wolves for S2)

  99. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Nicole,

    Personally, I would much prefer parrots to cgi dragons.

    (I kid)

    That is a wonderfully amusing image though: Dany’s eggs finally hatch, to reveal a bird unseen in Westeros for decades…THE PARROT. Wealthy merchants travel far and wide to catch a glimpse of these mysterious talking, cracker-devouring beasts, and when they grow old enough, Dany dreams of riding them above Westeros, reclaiming her former homeland from atop her prized African Grey.

  100. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Nicole: What I do know is the only thing the last teaser was missing was a white direwolf slinking out behind the Iron Throne, blood red eyes glaring, teeth bared, but instead we had a big friendly dog, that I believe was smiling.

    /Agree

  101. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Why are people talking about the direwolves being portrayed as dogs? That’s kind of weird when this post is talking specifically about the breed being chosen specifically because they resemble wolves. A few people seem to have forgotten the back story of the House Clegane too, which is disappointing.

    The DarkStar,

    How could I be unhappy with them choosing the best option available? You think that if we don’t have unrealistic expectations we’re lying to ourselves?

    I don’t understand how you can have that attitude.

  102. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    That’s another good point and I definitely agree that making a completely unnatural creature with scaly hide is far easier than to animate a furry wolf.

  103. Stella Maris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I am shocked, SHOCKED that people here aren’t asking the important questions about the direwolves!!!

    - Are their eyebrows going to look natural?

    - Are they too handsome for their roles?

    - Are they going to be historically accurate within the aesthetic standards of the late 12th century Angevin Empire?

    - Are their English accents going to sound authentic?

    - Is HBO going to “spice them up a bit” with graphic nude scenes?

    Quite frankly… if these questions aren’t answered, I will be seriously concerned about the quality of the production. It will be like HBO just doesn’t care about us, the true fans.

  104. Sarks
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I am personally very happy with their using real dogs. There have been too many movies recently with CGI werewolves/wolves that look terrible. It’s not like they had the Stark children adopting pugs or something. These dogs look amazing as direwolves :)

  105. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Some more comments I find strange are about these dogs seeming big/angry enough to tear a dude’s throat out.

    I wonder if anyone ehre has seen another TV show that adresses this… it’s called the News. People have been killed by dogs. Lots of people. Some of the dogs that killed people were a damn sight smaller and less amgry-looking than these Northern Inuits.

  106. Alwyn Joseph
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    The dogs look great IMO, CGI would never work out properly especially with the limited budget.

  107. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    I much prefer a slightly dog-looking direwolf than one that looks too cartoonish. What do you think? was the question WiC posed.

    You ever see the wolf in 300? Declaring they went with the best option available is at the very least, up for debate.

    What would make me happy is if HBO applied for exemption from that law to at least use wolf-hybrids for filming, in exchange for bringing all that $ and jobs to Ireland.

  108. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Please everybody take a look at this and then tell me they have made the best choice

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJ-ks-z4Aw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  109. Tysnow
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Stella Maris,

    Hehe,
    I to am shocked, you forgot to mention that the direwolves aren’t wearing grey tabards emblazoned with the House Stark sigil and are just wearing their natural fur, how dare they give each wolf (I mean dog) their own individual look.

  110. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m satisfied with the direction they are going, happy with the select photos of the breed people are discovering. I think the animals will look even better on the show.

  111. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    The wolf in 300 would look absurd in GoT. It was menacing and huge, and super fake.

    I’m not sure what you mean by wanting a “dog-looking direwolf”… where are you going to get one from? I think the option of a wolf-looking dog is better, because it is actually possible.

    Wolf hybrids might be a better option, I’ll grant, but it’s illegal. You ask why don’t HBO try to get an exemption. I’d like to know how you know that they haven’t (or at least had an expert look into it).

  112. Greatjon
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I think we just need to see a picture of Ghost or Grey Wind “in character,” and then this issue will be put to rest. A lot of people seem to think of wolves as wild, snarling, vicious beasts. And they can be, for sure. But they’re also just as likely to be sitting around “smiling” and looking “happy,” as Ghost has been described.

    Someone posted pictures of a Northern Inuit in action in an earlier comment, and he looked pretty damn scary to me. And if I weren’t so lazy, I’m sure that I could google the opposite and provide plenty of pictures of wolves that look identical to the “happy” pictures of the Northern Inuits we’ve seen. It’s all a matter of the dogs’ mood. Once we see them in beast mode, mauling would-be assassins and chewing on the fingers of the poor Greatjon, I’m confident that most people will be satisfied.

    Now, season 2 and beyond is another story…

  113. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Sure, I’d have loved to get direwolves that look like they’ll grow huge like a pony; can rip a man’s throat at a couple of month’s age; can strike fear into every man; and can form visible, believable and strong bonds with our Stark actors.

    Of those things I’d love to have, the far most important to me is how the animals interact with the actors and that we care about them. With using real domesticated animals this will almost certainly get a thumb up from me.

    As to the other points; the one we’ve seen the most of (Lady) is repeatedly pointed out as the most gentle and smallest of the litter, so if she looks cute that’s just how it should be. I also have a firm belief that HBO (especially after Winter chimed in :)) has a variety of tricks they can use to make the other dogs slightly more wolf-like and more ferocious when they need to be, without having to resort to expensive technology.

  114. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I know we want direwolves that look as badass as GRRM describes them, but I honestly think he took some liberty with how badass the direwolves were. Even the size of a pony, I don’t think a dire wolf would last long against armored fighters weapons.

    I know it’s even less likely to imagine the animals in these pictures doing that, but I think it required some suspension of disbelief even in the books. That said, they seem super invested in making everything appear real and believable, so I think that they will make it work or die trying. And if they didn’t think they could pull it off, I think they would have not used the bigass dead momma’ prop.

  115. Wolfheart
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar: GaR,
    I much prefer a slightly dog-looking direwolf than one that looks too cartoonish. What do you think? was the question WiC posed.You ever see the wolf in 300? Declaring they went with the best option available is at the very least, up for debate.What would make me happy is if HBO applied for exemption from that law to at least use wolf-hybrids for filming, in exchange for bringing all that $ and jobs to Ireland.    

    The wolf in 300 looked like a demon wolf with mange. I think they tried to emulate the look from the graphic novel to film, much like they did with most of the movie. But yes it didn’t look much like a wolf.

    Yes, and I agree there could have been ways that they may have been able to use wolf hybrids. But until we get one of those HBO making videos specifically talking about the choices HBO made for the direwolves to use wolf looking like dogs. We can only speculate.
    There’s a lot of questions I’m sure us fans want to know about the choice they made and why they did it, and if they thought or tried possible other avenues. So HBO there the ball is in your court. Appease us.

  116. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Again, anybody tell me they would have chosen the Inuits over a big badass husky like this one and I shut up

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJ-ks-z4Aw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    For me it’s end of topic

  117. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    To put it another way, I don’t think realistically they could have made the direwolves any worse.
    They weren’t gonna use beagles.

    Once again, I’m not complaining, I am glad to be disappointed by this, if that makes any sense.

  118. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    Nothing in 300 looked very realistic and it didn’t have to since it was a highly stylized film. I don’t think that would work at all in GoT, but that’s my opinion.

    And if they can’t use a certain breed of wolf/dog at all, I can’t even imagine how they could get an exemption from that when these wolves are supposed to closely interact with children. I don’t see why HBO would want to take that risk with the children either.

  119. Steve B
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    They look wolf-like to my untrained eyes. And I didn’t even know that the direwolf was an actual real animal, so I’m not concerned about people having some other association with the name.

    As for being happy with the dogs- I’ve always hoped they would use real dogs. A great deal can be accomplished with the reactions of other actors + movie magic. I’m unconcerned.

  120. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    That’s absurd. They could be worse if they’d used huskies (which are smaller and no wolfier) or if they’d used CGI (which always looks fake) or if they’d used puppets (which look like puppets).

    Every (possible) option I can think of is worse than what they’ve chosen to do.

  121. Wolfheart
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga: Again, anybody tell me they would have chosen the Inuits over a big badass husky like this one and I shut uphttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJ-ks-z4Aw&feature=youtube_gdata_playerFor me it’s end of topic    

    I agree, I think this breed of dog does look wolflike, but George’s direwolfs have a slender(er) build, longer legs, bigger head, longer snout. So maybe HBO went with a breed closer to description? Who knows. Maybe they even considered Sib.Huskies.

  122. Wolfheart
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    GaR: The DarkStar,
    That’s absurd.They could be worse if they’d used huskies (which are smaller and no wolfier) or if they’d used CGI (which always looks fake) or if they’d used puppets (which look like puppets).Every (possible) option I can think of is worse than what they’ve chosen to do.    

    You’re one spoiled boy. Spoiled by all your high graphics. Can’t handle anything less than perfect looking anything taking the place of something. I guess you were pissed they had a CGI Jeff Bridges in Tron 2.

  123. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Wolfheart,

    And it’s not spoiled to complain about using dogs and older cinematic tricks as direwolves?

  124. Greatjon
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Wolfheart,

    My internet sarcasm detector sometimes misses things, and in this instance I’m not sure whether you’re being serious or not. But in any case, I’m pretty it was univerally agreed that CGI Jeff Bridges sucked really bad.

  125. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Wolfheart:
    I agree, I think this breed of dog does look wolflike, but George’s direwolfs have a slender(er) build, longer legs, bigger head, longer snout. So maybe HBO went with a breed closer to description? Who knows. Maybe they even considered Sib.Huskies.    

    Sure, my point was the badassness not being more or less close to description ;)

  126. Rachel (Lukoi)
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    First of all thank you for all the wonderful comments about the breed, it was my site liked to that mentioned about Lady.

    Northern inuits are big dogs and will have the power needed to at least do the Direwolves justice. Watching my girls devour a large bone as if it was nothing leaves me in no doubt of that! Here is a picture of my girl Ela giving a warning to our pup:

    http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn62/racheblakemore/DSC_0161.jpg

    Just a flash of teeth and their whole face changes, of course they do spend more time looking like this:

    http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn62/racheblakemore/DSC_0252.jpg

    Which is not nearly as impressive!

  127. Wolfheart
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: Wolfheart,
    And it’s not spoiled to complain about using dogs and older cinematic tricks as direwolves?    

    I didn’t complain, you mistake and misread any of my prior posts of the topic of their choice. Am I impressed with the choice. Not entirely. Am I fine with it yes, I can live with it. I simply have stated a fact that they are visually dogs and for fans we know what they are supposed to be. But to a casual watcher and non fan and those that haven’t read. They may be taken aback by the dog portraying a direwolf and in extention a “wolf” to the laymen, this may be just a sacrafice HBO had to make. Could it hurt the series? We’ll see.

    BTW. Yes the Jeff Bridges CGI clone was really bad. But what can you do. I sucked it up and just enjoyed the good movie, I was able to shrug it off being that they were in a virtual world. COuld they have done a shit load of makeup to Jeff to make it work? Who knows.

    We’ve already been given a taste of what HBO can do. They will be using every conceivable trick to make the inuit doggies look more wolflike and larger. The one doggie I have been least impressed with is the Ghost Doggie.

  128. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    *I thought cgi JB looked great.
    *I thought the polar bear in lost looked great. (yes you could tell in some shots in wasn’t real, but aren’t all the dog defenders talking about having to use your imagination a little bit. To me it looked big and ferocious and pretty damn real, I was genuinely scared for the party.)
    *I thought the wolf in 300 looked UNBELIEVABLY amazing. It was supposed to be a little stylized, but It shows me that a great looking cgi wolf could be achieved years ago. Also this is a fantasy show. I want cgi effects on Ice and Longclaw. I want purple eyes, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if the wolves look like they are something out of a story…cause they are.

  129. Wolfheart
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Rachel (Lukoi): First of all thank you for all the wonderful comments about the breed, it was my site liked to that mentioned about Lady.Northern inuits are big dogs and will have the power needed to at least do the Direwolves justice. Watching my girls devour a large bone as if it was nothing leaves me in no doubt of that! Here is a picture of my girl Ela giving a warning to our pup:http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn62/racheblakemore/DSC_0161.jpgJust a flash of teeth and their whole face changes, of course they do spend more time looking like this:http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn62/racheblakemore/DSC_0252.jpgWhich is not nearly as impressive!    

    I’m guessing by those photo’s they are in their summer fur. Because they look far to gaunt and thin in face to even pull off a wolf look.

  130. EvilClosetMonkey
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Even if real wolves or wolf-hybrids were an option, I’d rather they use dogs for animals that interact closely with children. As far as telling the difference between the wolves and other dogs in the story, just don’t use other dogs that look very wolf-like. That will enhance the wolfish appearance of the NIs and be a clear visual clue that they are something different. Also, I’ve seen plenty of dogs be submissive to other dogs that were smaller or appeared less ferocious. If they want to show that aspect they just have to film other dogs being submissive to the NIs, not a big trick for professionally trained dogs.

    As far as believing whether these NIs are ferocious, again simply show them being ferocious. I’m sure that once you see the scene where Summer kills the catspaw it won’t seem like Summer is exclusively a big cuddly puppy. Remember, people really start being wary and afraid of Grey Wind after seeing what he can do. The Greatjohn certainly wasn’t very worried about him until he lost a few fingers. Some people are wary of the dire wolves at first but no one starts actively fearing them until they see or hear about the wolves killing and maiming people. Show the NIs killing and maiming and the audience will believe they are something to be feared.

  131. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Why do some people argue like it’s only a matter of CGI vs dog + old fashion movie tricks? It’s also about CGI being vastly more expensive and would affect an already very strained budget. GoT has a lower budget than Rome but has more complicated things to bring to life.

  132. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: Why do some people argue like it’s only a matter of CGI vs dog + old fashion movie tricks?

    I think it is because no one on this site REALLY knows what they are talking about, myself included, heh. That’s why I always feel like the professionals read some of these discussions and can’t help but chuckle to themselves. It’s probably fun seeing The Layman talk about things they think they know about because they’ve seen a few movies.

  133. Uberman
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a few pix of some Northern Inuits at play. They are bred for good temperament but that doesn’t mean they can’t look scary. The one with the eyes was the result of camera flash. No fx.

    They’ll be fine.

  134. Chris
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Greatjon: Wolfheart,
    My internet sarcasm detector sometimes misses things, and in this instance I’m not sure whether you’re being serious or not.But in any case, I’m pretty it was univerally agreed that CGI Jeff Bridges sucked really bad.    

    Couldn’t have been worse than the CGI Patrick Stewart in the Wolverine movie.

  135. Alisha_es
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the dogs look perfect! Lady seems to have more delicate features which is fine. Honestly, I have no desire to see them try and make the direwolves pony size no matter what the description in the books are. I kind of thought that particular description was kind of stupid anyway and sounded cheesy. (Sorry GRRM! It wasn’t believable to me and I don’t know that it would be to the general viewer either.) In my mind, I always pictured them more of a great dane size I guess and camera tricks could easily make that happen. All they have to do is look dangerous and menacing and ready to kill. A very large dog could easily pull that off. No reason they have to be that big.

  136. Mormegil
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  137. Kyle
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I think they look fine. If you want to see this series stretch out for as many seasons as possible you better count on them taking every shortcut available. Save the CGI budget for more important things like dragons

  138. pualo
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    The animals don’t have to be particularly large or wolf-like in order for people to be realistically afraid of them. They just have to be portrayed as particularly vicious and skilled in killing.

    An ordinary 50 pound dog could rip out a bunch of people’s throats easily if it was vicious enough. The characters on screen just have to see these animals, recognize that they are direwolves, and realize what that implies as far as their killing capability. Their reactions will then inspire similar reactions in the audience.

  139. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: Why do some people argue like it’s only a matter of CGI vs dog + old fashion movie tricks? It’s also about CGI being vastly more expensive and would affect an already very strained budget. GoT has a lower budget than Rome but has more complicated things to bring to life.

    Gar was saying that dogs were a better choice than cgi or puppets regardless of $. that cgi and puppets both looked terrible.
    I was disagreeing with that statement is all.

    The cgi costs for 2.5 hours of screen time in a movie, are vast.
    10 hours of screen time in GoT might entirely be bank breaking.
    Some might have had their hopes set on dogs to play our direwolves, I’m not gonna lie, I had hoped for at least wolves.

  140. mummer
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    EvilClosetMonkey: As far as telling the difference between the wolves and other dogs in the story, just don’t use other dogs that look very wolf-like. That will enhance the wolfish appearance of the NIs and be a clear visual clue that they are something different.

    Yeah, “how will they tell them apart from the other dogs” was a pretty weird complaint. There’s no reason that the dogs at Winterfell would be huskies, German Shepherds, or anything else that looks even remotely wolfy. They’re probably hounds for hunting.

  141. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    When it comes to hopes I can see that from different views. Of course I could hope for something that’s pretty much exactly what George described but when I put it in context of the production I really only hoped that it wouldn’t be really bad CGI. I didn’t really know what I could expect but I knew that it would be very hard to afford CGI for wolves (that are probably on screen quite a bit, and there’s several of them). I knew that wolves were extremely unlikely to be usable when it came to close interaction with lots of people, including children.

    Is what we get the best thing technically possible today? No. Is it the best we could have gotten on this budget? Hard to say when you’re not involved but personally I don’ t think they could have done much better.

  142. Feeblegenius
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Czarnian: It is mainly the legs on the dogs that are my greatest concern. The legs shows how big a dog is going to get.
    I think this have could have been a nice way to go about it, making the legs broader and thicker with cgi.
    Snow seems to have nice thick legs. Lady though must have been malformed from birth    
    I have complained on the choice of dogs earlier but then I only had Lady to go by. Snow looked far better. I withhold judgement until I see the final result.

    For someone so very worried about how the dire wolves look, I would think you would at least get their names right.

    Anyone concerned with pony-sized dire wolves, I ask you this; How old are the pups when we meet them? How old are they by the end of ASoS? Aaaaand, how old is their very large mother?

    To pro-cgi folks I say this; The way wargs were done in LotR is the best you could hope for and Peter Jackson, himself, doesn’t like how they turned out. Nor did I, for that matter.

    For me, the dire wolves are characters first and foremost, not just weapons of war. They are familiars to the Starks, and I mean that in the spiritual sense. The very definition of familiar(noun), is exactly how Martin portrays them in the books. Their relationships are beyond transcendental, and that is what i want to see from HBO…oh and some viscious badassery is very cool too!

    On a side note, the juxtaposition of Joff’s dog (The Hound) and Brann’s “dog” (Summer) has always been very clear cut to me.

  143. DH87
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    The wolf hybrids in the UK are not particularly impressive animals, from the viewpoint of what we are looking for. It seems pointless to argue over getting a “dispensation” from The Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 to use wolf-hybrid actors that don’t exist for a TV show on a strict schedule (as if that would have been remotely possible with minor children).
    There are wolf hybrids in the USA that would satisfy anyone’s worst fantasy. As I’ve said, I’ve stood in front of one that was sitting down and almost looked me in the eye. It was an illegally owned animal in an animal-control facility and although it offered me a paw to “shake hands” it was neither tame enough nor predictable enough to be trusted near adult or human, here or anywhere else. Even the timberwolves used on True Blood are not large imposing creatures, just extremely powerful and beautiful. (In any case, technically, the Shetland Pony can be as small as 28 inches, so a “pony sized” direwolf needn’t be a monster to meet GRRM’s requirements.)

  144. Crystal
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t the intent for PJ’s CGI wargs to not look exactly like wolves?

  145. Lex
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if anyone saw this yet, but GRRM has posted a great photo of Maisie standing underneath her billboard!

  146. shagnasty
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Some of you people are setting the bar for this series pretty low. It’s implausible that these dogs at their normal size would strike fear into mailed and armed men, let alone one of them ripping a mans arm off. I imagine the cast of the Holy Grail running from the rabbit. “RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!” That being said, I’m sure they will use camera tricks ala Gimli in Lord of the Rings. John Rhys-Davies played a convincing dwarf and he is 6’1″ tall. In my humble worthless opinion this is much ado about nothing.

  147. hercircumstance
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I am fine with how they look now. When things start off they are puppies after all and they are setting up the relationship with the kids and I’d prefer something real there for the kids to work with and not CGI. If a pup is a full sized dog then that’s already pretty big.

    I think the other thing that people find scary about them in the book is their intelligence and that can be shown no matter how wolfy they look. By the time they should be growing and approaching their adult size there will be less number of them to deal with and perhaps they could spend more of their budget on making CGI versions of a few of them for important scenes later instead of needlessly on the entire litter from day one.

  148. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Wolfheart: You’re one spoiled boy. Spoiled by all your high graphics. Can’t handle anything less than perfect looking anything taking the place of something. I guess you were pissed they had a CGI Jeff Bridges in Tron 2.  Quote  Reply

    Spoiled? I’m the one arguing for the simpler, cheaper option and you call me spoiled?

    I haven’t seen the new Tron movie, but it’s utterly irrelevant pointless to bring it up, unless Jeff Bridges is a furry animal of some kind.

    I say CGI wolves would look bad because I’ve never seen furry animals done concingly that way. 300 and LOTR are perfect examples of this. Big budgets don’t make ‘puter wolfies look like RL wolfies.

    The DarkStar,

    Yes, wolf in 300 worked. But it worked in the context of a film that was based on a comic and proud of it. All the effects were over the top. They deliberately sacrificed realism for drama and excitement. GoT is much more realistic and the big demon death wolf would look silly in that context.

    Well, I suppose I could live with it as Nymeria circa S3…

  149. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    shagnasty,

    They won’t be depicted “at their normal size” though. Even in the last trailer they used forced perspective make Ghost look almost as tall as Jon seated on the Iron Throne.

  150. Lex
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    These dogs look more wolfish than Ghost from the trailer, so that’s good… but they still don’t quite look like wolves. Definitely better than CGI, but I would have loved if they had been able to use real wolves or at least wolf-hybrids.

    I’ll reserve final judgment until I see how they look after post-production, but I’m fairly neutral at this point.

  151. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: When it comes to hopes I can see that from different views. Of course I could hope for something that’s pretty much exactly what George described but when I put it in context of the production I really only hoped that it wouldn’t be really bad CGI. I didn’t really know what I could expect but I knew that it would be very hard to afford CGI for wolves (that are probably on screen quite a bit, and there’s several of them). I knew that wolves were extremely unlikely to be usable when it came to close interaction with lots of people, including children.

    Is what we get the best thing technically possible today? No. Is it the best we could have gotten on this budget? Hard to say when you’re not involved but personally I don’ t think they could have done much better.

    You are right. As the realities of laws, budgets and child actors set in, might be there was no other option available, and if there were, this still would be the best one.
    But…
    If I were handed a survey right when HBO Green lighted thrones, and it was

    How would you like the Direwolves in GoT to be played?
    a) CGI
    b) animatronic puppet
    c) by wolf
    d) by wolf hybrid
    e) by dog

    I would have probably put them in that order

  152. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    Where have you seen a realistic CGI wolf? I don’t recall ever seeing one.

  153. Feeblegenius
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    shagnasty,
    What do you mean, “you people”? Ha!

    So if a mailed and armed man standing next to you got his arm ripped off, you’d stand there fearless and say, “it’s only a model”? What does size have to do with it? Fear cuts deeper than swords.

  154. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    I’ve seen realistic looking fur before, like on the polar bear in lost.
    I think the wolf from 300 looked amazing, and I know it was supposed to be a bit over the top and huge, but that’s kinda how I pictured the direwolves. I wouldn’t ever think any CGI would replicate an exact copy from another movie so if some thought it was TOO fantastical, a company could just as easily make it not so. Also if you get a chance, check out the CGI in Final Fantasy Advent Children. It is brilliant and in the first scene it has some fantasy cats running through a valley and up a mountain.

  155. EvilClosetMonkey
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    While I agree that a fully armored knight probably isn’t going to have his throat ripped out by a wolf, if I’m remembering correctly Grey Wind wasn’t killing fully armored knights. The vast majority of combatants weren’t wearing full plate with gorgets. The average warrior has quite alot to fear from wolves or dogs. It’s not like the wolf/dog is going to walk up to someone and challenge them to a duel. They’ll generally attack from the sides or behind with an eye to getting someone on the ground. If you are knocked down and do not have armor around your throat then you have a big problem.

    As far as fearing these dogs, dogs grouped into the pit bull catergory are generally feared and they are significantly smaller than NIs. I have a pit mix and she has enough pit physical traits that more often than not other people cross the street when I’m walking her. Also, it’s not like everyone around the wolves is armored at all times. I’m positive that a NI is large and powerful enough that it could take out a human if it was determined to do so.

  156. GaR
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    The Lost polar bear has copped a little flack on here for not looking real. Not having seen it, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. But these direwolves will have to be interacting with actual people. A lot. At close range. Even if they could look real as rpedators, they aren’t just stalking the human characters; in plenty of scenes they have to be seen to be playing with children.

    As cool as the 300 wolf looked, you could never have it chilling with a dude and licking his face and have it be in any way convincing; especially in a setting like GoT which is significantly more realistic than 300.

  157. L.L.
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    top6,

    YES! YES! YES!

  158. The DarkStar
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    GaR: Even if they could look real as rpedators, they aren’t just stalking the human characters; in plenty of scenes they have to be seen to be playing with children.

    As cool as the 300 wolf looked, you could never have it chilling with a dude and licking his face and have it be in any way convincing; especially in a setting like GoT which is significantly more realistic than 300.

    good point. Bran and Rob holding cgi puppies and petting them is a different animal than Greywind chasing a dude and killing him.

  159. Ryan E
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    The dogs seem fine to me, especially in the beginning when the direwolves are smaller. I think CGI wolves would have been cheesy in a show as gritty as this. It will be interesting to see how they portray them on film when they have grown up a bit.

  160. Abyss
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  161. Cardus
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    shagnasty: Some of you people are setting the bar for this series pretty low. It’s implausible that these dogs at their normal size would strike fear

    LOL

    I’m assuming you’ve never walked a hundred-pound German Shepherd around a neighborhood. I’ve had entire BANDS of construction workers cross to the other side of the street…

  162. PointyEnd
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m happy with the dogs. I’m worried about the dragons. Dragons in silhouette or in the distant background will work better than close-ups. I don’t need close-ups. I’d rather clever and calculated use of the fantasy elements to keep it as realistic as possible. We only need a little bit of visual fantasy for the atmosphere to be successful. It must “add” to the story, not “be” the story.

  163. Emma
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    The dog’s look fine to me. I’m just glad they’re not using CGI, as I really, REALLY hate CGI wolves.

  164. Emma
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Emma: The dog’s look fine to me. I’m just glad they’re not using CGI, as I really, REALLY hate CGI wolves.  Quote  Reply

    Ack, I meant “dogs.”

  165. Ed
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Hahahah!! Cause it aint your money!

    The DarkStar:
    But… If I were handed a survey right when HBO Green lighted thrones, and it wasHow would you like the Direwolves in GoT to be played?
    a) CGI
    b) animatronic puppet
    c) by wolf
    d) by wolf hybrid
    e) by dogI would have probably put them in that order    

  166. RJ
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Check out GRRM’s livejournal for the best Maisie-Arya picture yet. The kid’s already made me a fan and I haven’t even heard her say a line yet.

  167. Laughing Tree
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I want real direwolves, and the gotta be from the same litter… no excuses! same with the dragons…

  168. Sergent
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m inspired now to do a bit of research to find out (if possible) how much it would cost for CGI direwolves.

    I think to myself that they’re not in every scene. Grey Wind is only with Robb in roughly half the chapters we were presented with in SoS and CoK. During aGoT, he’s there a lot, but is also much younger, barely close to six months old at the time of the Umber scene, if I’m not mistaken. Summer and Shaggy are a different story, of course, but remember, they’re realistically only going to be with Bran and Rickon for a matter of a few minutes, max, in an episode that features action back in Winterfell. Ghost is a constant presence with Jon except while hunting and while Jon climbs the Wall with the Wildlings until Stannis makes his proposition – I’m going to guess a space of four-five episodes.
    I’m also keeping in mind that we’ll be seeing action that we never truly “saw” in the books, i.e. Whispering Wood – so their screen-time may indeed be greater than anticipated.

    The point I feel I’m making is that for creatures that appear for fractions of an episode, CGI would be preferable for seasons 2 and beyond (if we’re lucky enough to see that). Especially when the wolves are alone, as Summer and Nymeria are often, it would be easier to believe than having the actors adjust to an image they know will be inserted later.

    And as far as a good example of CGI wolves, I remember being rather amazed at the viciousness and amount of detail for the wolves (supposedly escaped from zoos, no less) in The Day After Tomorrow.

    Of course, high quality CGI would indeed be lovely, but lacking any experience or knowledge of the field, I’ll have to limit myself to wishes here.

  169. userj
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Two things:
    First,
    Everyone saying “well if they can do CG dragons they should be able to do Wolves too!” The issue here is that Wolves are real animals. Therefore, everyone knows what they are supposed to look like! So people will immediately notice if it is even 10% off from reality, and it’ll look cheesy. Dragons on the other hand are fictional. There is no “right way” for them to look. Therefore, it is quite easy to make them look good. Someone also mentioned fur versus scales being harder, but I think it goes deeper: it would be way easier to do a good CGI Dragonthan a good CGI Alligator.

    Second,
    someone mentioned using Huskies instead… only issue is that Husky coloring. It’s too distinctive, everyone knows it since Huskies are so popular, and no real wolf has that coloring. An all-white husky or malamute could be used for Ghost I suppose. Oh also Huskys (along with german shephard dog) are part of the bloodlines leading to the NI dog, IIRC.

  170. Baldr
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    OhDanyBoy,

    You sound nice.

  171. Albert Coleman
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    I’m a big fan of using CG to enhance something that is actually there. It always looks pretty real. The bad guy’s face in harry potter (voldamort?) has CG on a human actor and looks terrific.

    Can’t they CG over these dogs to give em a bit more of an exotic look?

    Even if they keep them looking like dogs, can they make them appear larger at some point? Like the hobbits appearing smaller in the LOTR films.

    It’s somewhat crucial the plot that these things look like more than dogs at some point. If only just making them look a lot bigger, it’s better than nothing.

  172. Luke likely
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    PointyEnd: I’m happy with the dogs.I’m worried about the dragons.Dragons in silhouette or in the distant background will work better than close-ups. I don’t need close-ups. I’d rather clever and calculated use of the fantasy elements to keep it as realistic as possible. We only need a little bit of visual fantasy for the atmosphere to be successful. It must “add” to the story, not “be” the story.    

    I think for the most part your right about the fantasy but with the dragons I would be disappointed if they weren’t as close up and personal as they were in the books. there should be casual and intimate scenes with Dany and the dragons. If every scene with the dragons have to be important for plot do to budget I would be disappointed

  173. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    EvilClosetMonkey: Even if real wolves or wolf-hybrids were an option, I’d rather they use dogs for animals that interact closely with children.As far as telling the difference between the wolves and other dogs in the story, just don’t use other dogs that look very wolf-like.That will enhance the wolfish appearance of the NIs and be a clear visual clue that they are something different.Also, I’ve seen plenty of dogs be submissive to other dogs that were smaller or appeared less ferocious.If they want to show that aspect they just have to film other dogs being submissive to the NIs, not a big trick for professionally trained dogs.As far as believing whether these NIs are ferocious, again simply show them being ferocious.I’m sure that once you see the scene where Summer kills the catspaw it won’t seem like Summer is exclusively a big cuddly puppy.Remember, people really start being wary and afraid of Grey Wind after seeing what he can do.The Greatjohn certainly wasn’t very worried about him until he lost a few fingers.Some people are wary of the dire wolves at first but no one starts actively fearing them until they see or hear about the wolves killing and maiming people.Show the NIs killing and maiming and the audience will believe they are something to be feared.    

    Almost any middle sized dog can make you wet your pants if he really tries. The one in the video I posted above would make you pee just by staring at you. And that’s what the Starks’ wolves should be like to stand out amongst dogs and wolves in Westeros. The Inuits don’t do the trick so people stop pretending otherwise, unless you asume a plot change involving anonymous Stark dire wolves instead of famous, fear inspiring, overnatural, and scarce breed of huge wolves.

  174. Andrija Andrew P
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Man, I would gladly donate a few hundred euros to them if it would help them make scarry direwolfs. I am aware that would be as helpful to them as donating coins but still.. I guess we just have to hope that someone like W. Buffet or Bernie Ecclestone will become fans and decide to donate 5-6mil to them. I would if I could,especially if the series should become as big a hit as everyone says. Ah well back to the real world, I guess they can make do with minimal CGI for the first two seasons but after that I shudder to think what will a full CGI massacre look like…

  175. Ax0r
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    I don’t comment on here much (and look what happens when I do! My tips sparked the Great-Political-Flamewar of 2011!), so this time I’m going to make it count. It seems that a lot of people have:
    1. Unrealistic expectations in one form or another, be it “wolf-ness”, size, ferocity, or whatever.
    2. Short-sightedness with regards to what’s possible with inventive camera tricks, cuts, framing, and the ability of the human mind to fill in the blanks.

    Here’s some food for thought:
    1. Yes, the direwolves are pups in the first part of the story, and yes pups generally have distorted proportions (big head, oversized feet). The thing is, dog pups have oversized proportions. IIRC, George doesn’t really describe the direwolves as going through that “awkward stage” in their growth. Even if they do have an awkward stage, we have no idea how long they live, how quickly they grow, etc. Perhaps they grow more like a walrus – reach their final proportions fairly quickly, and then continually gain size over their lifetime?

    2. You can do a lot with clever camera tricks to make these dogs look much bigger than they are. Yes, foreshoretening like in LOTR has been bandied about in this discussion, but I don’t think people are using their imagination enough.
    For example, if I need to establish early in season two that the dogs are approaching pony size, I wouldn’t put the dog in frame with a pony and foreshorten a little – ponies have different proportions to horses, and people have seen ponies (I bet half of us have ridden one as a kid at least once), so they would notice it. I would instead put the dog in frame with a miniature horse (yes they exist, and they can be trained as seeing eye animals! You can take them on a plane or a bus with you! How cool is that!). These animals are more closely proportioned to a full size horse. Get one with the same markings as the actor’s steeds (or make up), make an identical miniature bridle and saddle, and have a shot of the horse cropping grass tied to a (probably miniature, made of fibreglass) tree with the wolf walking past – BAM, enormous wolf!

    3. Everyone is looking at some of the early shots from the breeders site – one commenter early on put it right – no breeder is going to show their animals as angry. Most photos of wolves you see don’t make them look fierce – they’re just standing and looking – noble, proud, but not necessarily fierce. Take a look at some of the shots posted by Uberman here:
    http://s806.photobucket.com/albums/yy347/uberman21/General/Northern%20Inuits%20at%20Play/?albumview=slideshow
    These animals are just playing with each other – but there’s a couple shots there that, if you didn’t know better, you’d think they were really going in to do actual damage. Someone with better photoshop skills than I could reasonably replace the grass or shrink it to increase the sense of scale, and suddenly they start to look quite scary.

    4. Dogs looking too much like dogs and not enough like wolves…
    Most of the difference you are seeing is in your head. In your head, wolves are vicious, and scary, and growling at you all the time, and howling, and doing all those wolfy things. Acting dogs can do all of these things on command. Wolves do those things when they feel like it, and god help you if someone is in the way. Wolves and dogs are physically much closer than most of you give credit. Sure, dogs have loads of breeds, some of which could not look any less like a wolf (Puli, anyone?) But those that are close, are pretty damn close. Sure, their shoulders are an inch too wide, or whatever, but it beats not being able to have any scenes of actors and dire wolves interacting.
    As a slight aside, I would expect that most of you here would agree that foxes look nothing like dogs. Foxes are small, and have a bushy tail, and a shorter snout, and a mean-tempered, and won’t go near people if they can help it. Not to mention the colouring is all wrong. But look up the “Belyaev Temperament Breeding Experiment”, where a Russian Doctor selectively bred foxes for their temperament alone, with the intent of being able to establish a fox fur farm. Within only four generations, the foxes changed colour, started wagging their tails, started barking, some developed floppy ears… They basically became pretty close approximations of Border Collies (without the herding instinct).
    Sorry to go off track there, but the point is that your perceived wolfishness or otherwise of the dogs in the show is based on exceedingly minor characteristics.

    5. The concept of using CGI for the wolves vs or as well as CGI for dragons.
    The first thing to note here is that everyone has seen a furry four legged animal. We know how their joints go together, how they spread their weight, how tight their skin is over their muscles, the movement of fur. Getting all of these things right in CG is exceedingly difficult. To do it properly, you literally have to create a skeleton, filling it with organs, muscles, tendons, wrapping it all up in skin, and then putting in hundreds of hairs per square inch of skin, at at least two different thicknesses, with varying lengths, and then animating all of that as well as environmental influences such as collision with ground, wind, detritus. It is an ENORMOUS amount of work. Don’t talk about interacting with real actors.
    LOTR’s wargs looked fake for a couple reasons – the biggest one being that they looked similar to something that we know – bulky hyenas, basically – so when all those things weren’t exactly right – we noticed.
    300′s Devil wolf was deliberately stylised, had little screen time, little interaction with an actor. The entire film is of a legend – Xerxes wasn’t 12 feet tall, the Spartans didn’t have a bottomless pit to kick people into, and no spartans survived the battle – so clearly everything gets embellished in the retelling – making Leonidas out to be even more of a badass than he actually was. Everything in this film needs to be taken with a fistful of salt, and treated as a legend, not a recounting of reality.
    LOST’s polar bear was actually very good – but it didn’t interact with any people – it ran through the forest, and then they just shot it. You can make a CGI wolf look okay in a shot just by itself, and if you’re willing to cut a few corners, even do it on a reasonable budget. But if you want interaction? You’ve got to spend big bucks (and more importantly, lots of time) to get it right. If they’re going for CGI in future seasons to embiggen the wolves, they’re going to have to be very careful, or else you’ll get jarring and obvious cuts between CGI’d big dog in wide shot not looking quite like the animal the actors actually interact with in the closer framed stuff.

    By contrast, nobody has seen a dragon… Sure, we’ve seen dragons in movies, but they have been done dozens of different ways, with varying numbers of legs, wings, heads. Varying sizes and agilities. The point being that if the dragons are “good enough”, then we’ll fill in the rest – it doesn’t look jarring, because we don’t have a mental image of how a dragon moves. As long as the animators and directors don’t overstep the mark about what they can do, and keep the shots clean and simple, then the existence of dragons will be easy to swallow.

    If it were me, I’d be keeping the shots of the animals in attack mode to rapid cuts, or post-action scene with miniature props. As they got bigger, I’d have them seen increasingly in the shadows, or as silhouettes (Grey Wind sitting outside a command tent, for instance), or as CG in wide shots only.
    For the dragons, I’d have the “money shot” at the end of season 1, and thereafter limit their use to simple scenes where possible, With some very thoroughly 3d-scanned indoor set and having the actors do a few takes in mocap suits, so interaction can be done more accurately.
    Better to have fewer of these CG scenes done right, and the rest off stage, or hinted at but not fully shown, than try to use them too often and have them look less real.

    All said and done, the directors, photographers, artists, set dressers, and animators all have a lot more hands on experience doing this sort of stuff than any of us here. We know they’re treating the source material with as much care as we could reasonably ask of them. They’ve thought about this longer and harder than most of us, and certainly more with the idea of actually doing it in mind. In all likelihood, they thoroughly researched and prototyped their options before making a decision.
    HBO doesn’t make cheap stuff. Not in budget, not in presentation, not in appearance. You can bet if something isn’t right, they’ll find a way to make it so.

    We just have to trust them.

  176. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Czarnian,

    I refer you to Lianwar’s post of a google search for direwolf images. Perhaps many people think as I do, which is that they’re somewhat mythic creatures in the public psyche, much like dragons, and open to some interpretation in what they look like. Just sayin.

  177. KG
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    Yeah, you’re right. We all secretly hate HBO for not importing pure-strain direwolves from up north.

    What? You mean there aren’t any such things? Well HELL – that just makes you kind of a spoiled hater, doesn’t it?

  178. KG
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    Here’s an average German Shephard in a bad mood

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSbFQq_dXm8&feature=related

  179. Hannah Sims
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    I much prefer a slightly dog-looking direwolf than one that looks too cartoonish.

    This.

  180. Lianwar
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed,

    The look of direwolves in my mind, more wolf than dog looks like.

  181. Martin
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I think you can still accept the Inuits as the only workable solution for the Direwolves – and still be disappointed that they won’t reflect the ‘reality’ of the wolves that exist in my imagination.

    It’s becoming a bit of a circular argument – and we have what we have in the series.

    One thing I would note – is the comparison with the LotR wolves – they were done back in 2000-2003 – nearly 10 years ago, CGI moves on in huge leaps. Probably a closer comparison would be Aslan in the Narnia movies.

    Anyway – I have my concerns (as I probably would have with CGI versions aswell), but I’m happy enough with the way they’ve gone.

  182. JDP
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I say cut the CGI for the dragons and tape cardboard wings on some geckos/iguanas/komodos as the seasons progress. They could also save money by using sock puppets instead of hiring animal actors for the direwolves. This money could all be better spent hiring The Rock to play Brienne in season 2.

    These direwolves are great for S1. I’m sure the production team will look at their budget and options for S2+ (fingers crossed we get more seasons) and make sensible choices. Who knows, they may actually test what looks best and go with that (although the ‘CGI always sucks’ vs ‘camera tricks always suck’ arguments are certainly compelling).

    Size isn’t everything… think of a canine Bruce Lee/Hannibal Lector combo. Any of these dogs, infused with the right attitude, would scare the shit out of me in the Whispering Woods*.

    * The clash of steel and scream of flesh fill the night air; a wraith moves like smoke through the trees; gleaming fangs strike from the shadows; the Stark sigil is upon you, jaws dripping red with your heart’s blood; your screams fill the air, only to be drowned out by a bestial howl of victory. The beast sets down to dine.

  183. Rimshot
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    I’m no expert when it comes to Wolves/Dogs/CGI or whatever but I can talk from my two encounters with the ‘Wolves’ on set.

    – 1st time was when I arrived before dawn at the Paint Hall to get on the coach taking us all to the set that day. I was a tad early so I had a wee wander around the base. I walked past a white marquee when all of a sudden a cacophony of howls started from within. This was where the ‘direwolves’ were being penned. The sound was like nothing I’d heard before and sent a chill up my spine!

    – the other time was when I was sitting, having lunch, on the godswood set and, from behind the heart tree, a ‘wolf’ emerged and walked in front of me. He was only a few feet away and he totally gave me the willies!!

    So they work for me!

    BTW – Someone on here should recap all the ‘gates’ we’ve had. I’m sure it would be interesting to see all the debates we’ve had over the months.

  184. Petyr
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Sergent: Tomorrow

    Well, I thought the wolves were the most fake looking thing in that entire movie. A movie that featured a Russian oil tanker floating down a NYC street. That movie was beyond ridiculous in its entire premise, but I still think those terrible wolves were what completely broke my sense of belief.

    http://movieclips.com/SM23R-the-day-after-tomorrow-movie-teens-wolves/

    Fast forward to 50 secs to skip the terribleness of the movie.

    They look like a combination of cartoon and video game characters to me. They just don’t move right.

  185. The DarkStar
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    KG: KG
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    The DarkStar,

    Yeah, you’re right. We all secretly hate HBO for not importing pure-strain direwolves from up north.

    What? You mean there aren’t any such things? Well HELL – that just makes you kind of a spoiled hater, doesn’t it?

    No. No it doesn’t.
    I’m not arguing anything, I’m discussing the adaptation of Thrones from book to film, and how while reading about direwolves I pictured really big mythical wolves, and on screen they are played by dogs.
    I made a point to add at the end of my comments twice that I was not complaining, to help convey I, in no way, was being a spoiled hater. I also said thanked HBO in my first post.

    Martin said it clearly and concisely

    Martin: I think you can still accept the Inuits as the only workable solution for the Direwolves – and still be disappointed that they won’t reflect the ‘reality’ of the wolves that exist in my imagination.

  186. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Rimshot,

    Sure, some dogs are scary. That just doesn’t answer questions:

    a) what do dogs look like in Westeros?

    b) what does that direwolf have that makes it stand out against a regular dog?

    If his is what we get as direwolves, then it’s fine. But an unchanged plot that portraits people in Westeros talking about the fearsome and famous Stark kids’ direwolves would be laughable.

  187. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Baldr: OhDanyBoy,
    You sound nice.    

    Thanks!

    I do try to be patient, but around here, people throw so much vitriol I often lose what little temper I have…

    The situation is fairly straightforward as I see it:
    Advantages to CGI: bigger, more ferocious
    Advantages to dogs: more realistic (likely), cheaper, better interactions with actors and child actors.

    It is also fairly clear that the dogs can be portrayed as pretty freaking scary pretty easily, and if we give CGI the benefit of the doubt, that the realism is about the same either way. So it is basically SIZE versus INTERACTION and COST. Add in the fact that there are many ways of making the dogs look bigger than they are, and that no one have ruled out the possibility of some after-the-fact CGI to enhance the look, and the choice seems fairly clear – especially leaving room in the budget for our scaly friends.

    I guess, long story short, I never imagined they would have the budget for CGI wolves (until maybe later seasons), and mostly hoped for the ‘dogs with camera tricks’ angle as a best case, especially considering the advantages that lie therein.

  188. Mormegil
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Albert Coleman: I’m a big fan of using CG to enhance something that is actually there. It always looks pretty real. The bad guy’s face in harry potter (voldamort?) has CG on a human actor and looks terrific.Can’t they CG over these dogs to give em a bit more of an exotic look? Even if they keep them looking like dogs, can they make them appear larger at some point? Like the hobbits appearing smaller in the LOTR films.It’s somewhat crucial the plot that these things look like more than dogs at some point. If only just making them look a lot bigger, it’s better than nothing.  Quote  Reply

    They are making them look larger, in the lastest Promo they have Ghost looking (in one shot) almost as tall as the Iron Throne.

    http://www.westeros.org/GoT/Gallery/Entry/2204/

  189. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Rimshot,

    Thanks Rimshot! Good to hear they are impressive even without camera angles – can’t wait to see them on the show, in their full cinematic glory!

  190. Bard of Awen
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The Northern Inuit dogs have really grown on me, and I think they’re going to make a fine addition to the show. Does anyone else suspect that the popularity of this breed is going to explode this spring? I know I wish I could give one a home, but I already have two cats living in this house, and I really don’t know whether the rental agency would be too crazy about me bringing home a large wolf-like dog.

    Dragons… I agree with those of you that have said you’d rather see the budget spent on the dragons. I’m willing to take smaller dire wolves for better dragons. I think our canine cast members are going to have no trouble being scary and intimidating. Dogs have that capacity just as much as wolves, and with the right lighting, angles, music, effects etc. people are going to have no trouble believing that these animals are tearing out throats. On the other hand, making a convincing dragon is something that even big-budget Hollywood films struggle with.

    I, for one, am really hoping for a mix of puppetry and CG, particularly when the dragons are small. Does anyone remember Dragonslayer as fondly as I do? Yes, the move is a little campy, and yes, the compositing is showing its 30 years of age, but Vermithrax is still one of the most realistic looking dragons to ever grace the screen. I think GoT could do much worse.

    (In my nightmares I imagine Drogon opening its mouth and lamenting in the voice of Sean Connery.)

  191. Mr. Frey
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This whole thread makes it sound like the showrunners didn’t go through this very discussion. I’m sure they weighed the same criteria: CGI, wolf, or dog. But then they could do something we probably can’t do: test shoots… proof of concepts… budgeting. Then they did something we absolutely can’t do: they made a decision.

    I’ll be the first to scream if the decision they made was: direwolves aren’t important, we’ll just give the characters some dogs and leave it at that. But it doesn’t sound like that was the choice. So I’m pretty relaxed about it.

    Admittedly, I don’t think anybody is claiming that the decision to use dogs will ruin the story. Just like nobody is claiming that the story relies on purple eyebrows (or whatever). The decision will just make it a little less like what we imagined, and that will make us a little sad.

  192. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Mr. Frey,

    I’ve had that thought as well. Some of the discussion makes it feel like some doubt that the effect people don’t really know what they are doing, or that they just made a lazy decision without thinking things through.

  193. Herr Fick
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Ax0r,

    This ends the discussion from my point of view. Thanks for the great post!

  194. the goat
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I think some people are getting a little confused over the concept of a completely CG direwolf versus using an NI in a traditional greenscreen/composite efx shot. They can take a shot of a real dog and easily make it appear larger than the Wall if they wanted to. This much cheaper and faster than creating a completely CG wolf and placing it in a shot. Even if they had used real wolves they would still need to use the same techniques, since there are no real wolves that are near as big as direwolves. Also, there hasn’t been any confirmation that there will be absolutely no CG shots of the wolves (particularly for fast moving, quick cut action shots), so who knows.

    As far as their age/size through the first season, I found an unofficial timeline at Westeros that lists events as follows: 1) we know when the boys find them they are newborns, literally only a few hours old, 2) approx 13 weeks, Summer kills catspaw, 3) approx 5 months, Nymeria run off, Lady killed, 4) approx 7.5 months, Summer and Grey Wind kill wildings saving Bran, approx 9.5 months, Whispering Wood, Jon tries to run away from NW. Not sure if GRRM mentions if they’re full-grown even in the final chapters of the book, but I imagine they’ll be pretty big by then. At 7.5 months they should be pretty large, as well, though perhaps not completely full-grown.

  195. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Frey,

    Again, it’s not just a matter of wolf over dog over cgi. I think we almost unanimously agree dogs were the right choice. Question is, were this the right dogs? It’s like if we were happy over Jaleel White cast as Ned just because he is way better than a cgi Ned.

    The Inuits, they are nice. But they are common stuff, you glance at them and your first thought is DOG.

    THIS is how a dog you pretend to portrait as a badass legendary creature, worlds apart from any dog anyone can have at home (just like they are in the books) should look like:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJ-ks-z4Aw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    That, is a BEAST

  196. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    You think a husky looks more like a wolf than Northen Inuit. Both breeds are wolf-like, but huskies are more immediately recognisable for what they are.

    That’s already been pointed out to you though, and you ignored it.

    Also NIs are a fair bit bigger than huskies.

  197. Mike Kerns
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I think a little CG for their eyes and everything should look fine.

  198. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    And you ignore the fact that as I have stated I don’t care how much closer to a wolf the dogs look like. It’s a matter of presence, intimidation, fearsomeness, eyepoppingness, call it what you like (sorry for my English). The dog in the video would make anybody run just by crossing it in the street. And if I remember the books well, that’s the feeling people in Westeros have when they talk about the Stark direwolves or when they stumble upon them. I don’t care if it’s a Husky or whatever, just pointing out they could have done a better job finding a dog that looks what the dire wolves should look like. Just my two cents.

  199. Steven Scott
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    As proud owner of a Siberian Husky these almost-Huskies don’t bother me a bit.

  200. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    Huskies stand what? 2 foot at the shoulder? As cool as they look, they’re too small.

    I also strongly disagree with your assertion that the NIs don’t look the part. We’ve yet to see a single thing from the show where they’re playing the angry wolf.

    Also, only cynophobes cross the street to avoid a dog on a lead. Personally I like huskies; no way would I cross the street to avoid one.

  201. Greatjon
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    You’re obsessed with that huskey. I don’t disagree that they look like cool dogs, but they don’t look like wolves. The Northern Inuits do.

    This is a wolf: http://www.idahoreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/wolf1.jpg

    This is a Northern Inuit: http://www.northerninuit.net/Images/BreezeHome.jpg

    And this is a Siberian Husky: http://www.pluspets.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/siberian-huskey1.jpg

    One of these things doesn’t look like the other.

  202. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    I see a fault in your reasoning: the video of the husky I find extremely intimidating, as anyone would. Now, what makes you think that Northern Inuits cannot behave just as menacing? I’ve seen tonnes of cute pictures of huskies, playful, and friendly – and with the video you demonstrate that they can also do this scary howling and glaring thing. I am sure NIs are capable of the same kind of behaviour and HBO will use it in the show. Dog acting ;)

  203. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    I now nothing about dogs. This is all about perception. The Inuits in the pictures I look at them and no way they fit the description of a scary creature that would impress someone standing by, even less they constitute material for legends. The dog in the video, looks much better in that sense. Maybe it’s because of perspective, but it’s big and it’s scary (or scarier if you like). You’re taking it wrong that I’m making an argument for huskies, just saying you can do better in finding a dog that fits the looks of what a badass dog is supposed to be (be it a husky or not).

    Anyway, we’ll have to see them onscreen to make a fair judgement.

  204. Uberman
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    @Steve Scott

    Northern Inuits were bred as companion versions of arctic working dogs. They weren’t bred to worry huskies or husky owners. They were bred NOT to worry other dogs or people in the way huskies and malamutes often do. They are also highly intelligent and trainable and have excellent recall. Something huskies are not known for.

    Huskies are more immediately recognisable so the less familiar NI will benefit GOT as people will notice how striking they are but not know immediately what they are.

    And despite being friendly I meet plenty of people with and without dogs who pap themselves at meeting my two NIs. 40 kg of dog bounding around teeth first can still be unsettling for many.

    Far as I know the producers looked at different types of dogs including Saarloos and Czech Wolfdogs but settled on the NI so just go with it.

  205. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Greatjon,

    Very nice pictures.

    the goat,

    Absolutely. Full CG is not the way to go with these wolves, they’ve got to interact with humans and full CG creatures, especially furry ones, always look weird in those situations. I’m convinced further every day, now with The Rabbit and WiC vouching, that in the context of the series, they made the right choice (we might differ on which breed we’d prefer, but it’s a minor quibble). The shots don’t impress me, but that means next to nothing until we see footage. I’m sure the dogs will be great.

  206. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    Yeah good point, but in the books they didn’t have to menace anyone to make them feel frightened or intimidated, just walk by. I’m talking about visual impact or the concept of aura if you like. Forget about the video, it’s just an example I found of a dog with an imposing presence, which I don’t see in the Inuits. But again, it may just be me.

  207. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    Yeah, it remains an open question until we see them. Luckily enough, Rimshot the extra got scared of them just walking by, so that’s a good sign!

  208. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    Huskies don’t look scary unless they’re angry. This is true of pretty much every dog. Indeed, most predatory mammals.

    To compare of a picture of an NI standing placidly to a video of a husky having an angry moment is pointless. I have no doubt that an angry NI would be a frightening thing. Since they’re bigger they’re also much better suited to stand in for direwolves.

  209. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Also, as Greatjon demonstrated, Northern Inuits look much more like real wolves.

  210. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    Ok, now you’re convincing me. Bottom line I think size is the key here. If NI are big and they make them look bigger, that fits the description of an imposing creature. And remember the dead mother ;)

  211. Rinoa De la Pica
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Herr Fick: Ax0r, This ends the discussion from my point of view. Thanks for the great post!  Quote  Reply

    Agree. Not a single worry about direwolves anymore. Ax0r, you should comment more often, sir. For the high value of your post :)

  212. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga,

    The dead mother in the pilot was huge, but wasn’t that scene reshot with a smaller mother carcass?

    I mean, it’d have to have been reshot anyway, since Alfie’s hair was blonde in the pilot. But I seem tor ecall someone mentioning a different carcasss being used.

  213. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    I don’t know… Was the sequence shown in the 11 minute making of video from the pilot? That was a huge one.

  214. Dunkeltroll
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    As some of you pointed out before: it all comes down to the dogs’ acting abilities.

    Here is your friendly neighborhood Golden Retriever

    And this is how they look when they make their ‘mean’ face. Not half as nice, isn’t it? Our dog actually sometimes looks like this when we play – defending his toys or snapping for our arms, droning like a bear while he does so.

    Those Inuits should do fine if they get a little rought up before shooting – some wet & dirt surely add a lot to a wild appearance.

  215. pilot-WANT
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Just think of the dogs as actors too. :)

    i like dogs!

  216. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Stupid question here:

    Are Inuits NOT specially furry or just a common trait of the ones I’ve seen in pictures? Just wondering if living in the North requires a thick coat. They would look bigger too.

  217. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Dunkeltroll: As some of you pointed out before: it all comes down to the dogs’ acting abilities.

    Here is your friendly neighborhood Golden Retriever

    And this is how they look when they make their ‘mean’ face.

    Sure, dogs can look fierce. The important thing is that HBO is suitably able to differentiate the NI wolf standins from the other dogs populating Westeros, and give people a reason to believe that these particular animals should be feared more than the rest…that is the important task they have in front of them.

    Direwolves are supposed to be imposing even when not particularly angry-seeming, unlike golden retrievers ;). I trust D&D have a plan. Even if I haven’t seen the evidence so far.

  218. DH87
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    JDP: I say cut the CGI for the dragons and tape cardboard wings on some geckos/iguanas/komodos as the seasons progress.

    I read your comment as “tape cardboard wigs on some geckos…”
    I draw the line there. We all do.
    Am I right in this?

  219. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Zack,

    I’ve already addressed that.

    Regular Westerosi dogs are likely to be hounds or smaller molossers, IMO. NIs bear a much stronger resemblance to wolves than they do to such doggy-looking dogs. I honestly don’t see how you could suggest that these NIs could be mixed up with more run of the mill breeds. It defies belief. It also shows you haven’t bothered reading before posting.

  220. Mormegil
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    GaR: Pablo Jainaga, The dead mother in the pilot was huge, but wasn’t that scene reshot with a smaller mother carcass?I mean, it’d have to have been reshot anyway, since Alfie’s hair was blonde in the pilot. But I seem tor ecall someone mentioning a different carcasss being used.  Quote  Reply

    Pretty sure they used the same prop, even if it was smaller it’s not much smaller (looks at least 6 foot long in the BTS preview).

    Plus Alfie still might have blonde hair as IIRC there’s a picture of him blonde with Michelle Fairley which of course would be the main filming.

  221. Steven Scott
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Uberman,

    WTF are you babbling about? My post was in support of the NI because they do look like huskies. So save your stupid lessons for someone who cares.

  222. GaR
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Mormegil,

    Surely not from on set? :S

  223. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    GaR: I honestly don’t see how you could suggest that these NIs could be mixed up with more run of the mill breeds. It defies belief

    I think I need to see them in intimidation mode before I’m convinced. As I said, these normal shots of contented NI dogs do not make them appear to be imposing in the same manner that a wolf, let alone a massively overgrown wolf, seems. Of course, that could just be a mental association on my part.

    If I saw a wolf, my instinct would be to get the hell away. Even if I wasn’t feeling menaced at that moment. And I haven’t seen any shots of NI dogs that would immediately induce that run urge. They just look like wolfier doggies, which they are. Whereas, I come across that pissed off snarling golden retriever? I’m backing down. Just as I probably would with the NI. Sans camera trickery, though, my responses to both would likely be similar.

    So as I said, I’m reserving judgement until I’ve seen them in context. From the accounts of folks on the set and who’ve seen some footage, it’s probably all going to work out.

  224. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Urg, forgot to mention your remark about choosing specific weaker dogs to put alongside the NIs. Seems a likely choice, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t happen like that.

  225. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    Yeah, that’s been my point from the beginning. I don’t care how much wolflike they look, just if they inspire that feeling of “OMFG what is that??”. But they will get it right, let’s be confident!

  226. Greatjon
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    I keep hearing “wolf doggies” or something similar in reference to Northern Inuits, and it has me convinced that the problem is actually in everyone’s mental picture of a wolf. Some people want a beast that curdles the blood just at the sight of it without it being “in character,” and in that case I would agree that what we’ve seen so far of the animals chosen don’t live up to those expectations. However, I bet that I could link five pictures right now, four of them being Northern Inuits and one of them a wolf, and no one could tell me with any consistency which was which.

    Unless they went with CGI, I don’t think even wolves were going to be wolfish enough to satisfy some people.

  227. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I have always complained about the Direwolves. Mostly because of the weak appearance of Lady. Sure she is the gentlest and smallest of the litter but she should still look the part of a Direwolf. As it were she looked as if she would be threatened by a Cockerspaniel.

    Anyhow, after looking at tons of pictures of NI I actually feel a bit calmer. They do look a bit wolfish.
    What it comes down to now is really how they will move. A wolf moves in a predatory fashion.

    A wolf trots forward, head down. Tail behind it in a 45 degree angle downwards. Then it stops and lifts its head. Sniffs the air, listens, watches. Then it trots on.

    If HBO have an eye for detail, and they mostly do I think it is possible that they can pull this off.

    If you google wolf and look at pictures of wolfes they dont look more dangerous than any dog. It is their movement that sets them apart. They move with a purpose of hunting their prey down as effectively as possible.
    We have taken this individualism out of dogs or they would be impossible to tame. Dogs are curious at their surroundings. They look around trying to see what you are doing and what you want them to do. And they are also very palyful just as wolf pups.

    It would be nice to see this playfulness of a wolf pup somewhere along the line cross over to the effectiveness of a hunting machine. They arent the Stark kids dogs, they are pack WITH them.

    I guess that boils down to acting and scripting.

    It will be interesting to see.

    I am also glad they chose a breed that is a bit more unknown than huskies. Huskies would be as silly as golden retrievers.

  228. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Awaiting moderation? That was a new one. Is the site moderated after the Gay debacle?

  229. Martin
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Czarnian: Awaiting moderation? That was a new one. Is the site moderated after the Gay debacle?  Quote  Reply

    I think it always was – but only by bot – certain keywords appear to trigger the ‘awaiting moderation’ message

  230. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Thats odd. I wonder which words since I didnt use any sort of foul language. Perhaps someone knows?

  231. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Czarnian: Thats odd. I wonder which words since I didnt use any sort of foul language. Perhaps someone knows?    

    Looks like the word that tripped you up was ‘cockerspaniel’. Yes, it catches words within words. Sorry about the inconvenience. I have approved your comment now though!

  232. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info, WiC.
    You are the c0ck to my hen

  233. Shinyteapot
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I like the Northern Inuits for the direwolves. Since real wolves, or wolf hybrids, were not an option (legal issues aside, these animals will be cuddled by children, a real wolf may not take kindly to that!) I think these dogs are very good. Dogs may well have been the better option anyway- they don’t just need to look right, they need to act- which means being obedient, safe in a crowd and able to perform a wide variety of behaviour on command.

    I think perhaps the reason people are unsure of their looks is simply the choice of pictures we’ve seen so far. Ghost sitting still, smiling and behaving himself. Lady (who absolutely should be neat, pretty, well groomed and obedient to a fault- she’s Sansa’s wolf!) walking on a lead and sat still as (presumably) commanded.

    Both these animals are very pale coloured. A Northern Inuit with darker colours, particularly around the face, looks much more wolf like http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/274/northerninuitdogqi0.jpg

    Add to this that they will look far more frightening when commanded to growl, snarl, leap at people or fight and I think they will do the job nicely.

    In later series they will presumably need to be made bigger. This can be done with careful camera work, green screen and animatronics where necessary. Jon scratches Ghost behind the ears- you just need something that looks like the top of Ghosts’ head, but bigger than the canine actor, and would only be on screen for a second. Animatronics definitely trump CGI when it comes to actors interacting with animals, particularly furry ones. And they’re pretty much only needed when the animal is very close to or in physical contact with a human. The rest of the time, real animal and small props or similar will work fine.

    I think these dogs will pass fine for direwolves once we see them in action. And let’s not forget, they’re tame direwolves, they wouldn’t be randomly attacking anyone who walks by. I’m looking forward to seeing all of them on screen (except for certain scenes that I won’t see due to all the tears).

  234. J
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: Nicole,
    Actually GRRM’s direwolves actually have some traits that differ more towards dogs from wolves than the actual direwolves that existed in our world (legs, for example).As for how we know the direwolves wouldn’t look good, no one of course knows but speculations can be firmly based on wolflike creatures in movies. The wargs in LotR was one of the more criticized effects as far as maintaining a realistic look and the budget that went into those (including that they could do it cheaper since Jackson owns WETA) is certainly beyond GoT. You’ll have to compare with some far cheaper movies to get a good comparison (which is also shown by GRRM begging fans to understand that this show will certainly not look like LotR).As for dragons being CGI, of course they will have to be, but you do realize that the dragon CGI budget would have to be severely cut down in order to do direwolf CGI as well, right? That or cutting the budget of other areas. We can’t treat this like spoiled children in a store, just getting whatever they point at. Everyone must realize that anything we want that costs more (and the direwolves would likely cost a lot) means that we have less to spend on other things. That means that any serious suggestion that they should use CGI should be accompanied with examples of other things they could cut down on.    

    Oh come on. People won’t even say what they would cut to pay for what they want on blogs about real-world politics. Do you actually expect people to do it in discussing the visual effects of a TV show adapted from a book they love?

  235. Nicole
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    It is apparent that if you leave Game of Thrones aficionados without new series updates, for over 10 days we become irrational :-)

  236. Pablo Jainaga
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Shinyteapot,

    In the end, I think almost all comes down to size. The Stark wolves are feared and famous not because they look like wolves or are rabid or agressive or whatever, but because they are huge. Small dog, you kick him. Medium dog, respect. Big dog, fear. Huge dog, RUN!

    The Inuits look good (the more pictures I see the more I like them), so if they manage to make them look big in scale it will work fine, we have our Stark dire wolves.

  237. ChangeIsComing
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Silvio,

    I agree, those czeck wolves look awesome! I wonder why they didn’t go for that. I assumed they would go for half-wolves, but I understand the regulations.
    Silvio,

  238. shadd
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    The Inuits look good (the more pictures I see the more I like them), so if they manage to make them look big in scale it will work fine, we have our Stark dire wolves

    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs778.ash1/166811_495935252762_555327762_6264642_4171849_n.jpg

    Judging by the size of their dad, I don’t think size will be an issue.

  239. Enrico
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    There are now two things I already don’t like: these direwolves that wouldn’t scare a kid, and the actress they choose for Cersei (I *really* hate them every time I see her on the screen)

  240. alex
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    so are ghost’s eyes red??

  241. George Smith
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    alex,

    alex,

    well there actually brown but great what a camera can do

  242. Rosanna P. Brost
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Considering that real direwolves are an extinct species, I’m perfectly fine with the use of dogs instead of wolves personally and besides that, I think this is a great way of profiling a very little known breed (I’d never heard of Northern Inuits before this) and for dogs, these do look very wolf-like, though their ears and faces are very doggish. Besides their very doggish heads, these canines seem to have nicely wolfish bodies (long, narrow legs, sleek body, large, webbed paws and a tail that doesn’t sickle) so I’d say that people unfamiliar with wolves may even find it hard to tell that these are dogs. (History has proven that the general public usually can’t tell a wolf from a dog, despite anatomical differences which become very obvious after study.)

  243. Jack
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I understand the idea of realism is preferred over CGI in this situation. However there is a fundamental problem no one seems to want to address. No living dog or wolf breed (aside from an Irish wolf-hound MAYBE) come close to the size of a full-grown dire wolf. Plus these aren’t just any direwolves, they are the Stark’s direwolves. Unfortunately CGI is a must if you want to capture the true size and ferocity of this sort of beast.
    Rosanna P. Brost,

  244. Laura
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    userj:
    these Northern Inuit dogs CAN look quite wolf like.Here’s some examples:
    http://www.cabalesnortherninuits.co.uk/IMGP1645_resize.JPG
    http://www.cabalesnortherninuits.co.uk/Zeus_1_year_old.JPG (grey wind??)
    http://www.backcountryni.co.uk/Images/skye6.jpg

    userj,

    You made me smile. The Cables dog you linked to is the son of the backcountry photo of the bitch with pups. She is Shadowlands Laurelin and was bred by myself. I still have her mum (Ista who is 12 in Dec 2011) and her dad (Logan who was 10 in April 2011). They are very wolfie dogs and some can be huge. 1 of mine from the same parents as Laurelin, ‘Shadowlands Keano, is 32 inches at the shoulder. He is a huge dog, really wolfie gait and he has many people in awe at his size. I can’t go anywhere without someone saying I should put a saddle on him, which earned him the nicname ‘Donkey Dog’.
    So they do have some very large dogs within the breed that can be used and with the same effects as used on Lord of the Rings for the Hobbits. They can look huge on screen and using Huge examples of the breed it would work really well.

  245. Laura
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Pablo Jainaga:
    Mr. Frey,

    Again, it’s not just a matter of wolf over dog over cgi. I think we almost unanimously agree dogs were the right choice. Question is, were this the right dogs? It’s like if we were happy over Jaleel White cast as Ned just because he is way better than a cgi Ned.

    The Inuits, they are nice. But they are common stuff,you glance at them and your first thought is DOG.

    THIS is how a dog you pretend to portrait as a badass legendary creature, worlds apart from any dog anyone can have at home (just like they are in the books) should look like:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJ-ks-z4Aw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    That, is a BEAST

    Pablo Jainaga:
    Hear Me Roar,

    Yeah good point, but in the books they didn’t have to menace anyone to make them feel frightened or intimidated, just walk by. I’m talking about visual impact or the concept of aura if you like. Forget about the video, it’s just an example I found of a dog with an imposing presence,which I don’t see in the Inuits. But again, it may just be me.

    lol God, Is it your Husky by chance???

    I have 12 Northern Inuit Dogs. 1 of which is 32 inches at the shoulder. He is bigger than a lot of shetland ponies I know and not far off a few welsh mountain poines lol
    He has people crossing the street, Mothers grabbing their children. My 9 yr old daughter loves walking him as she gets shocked looks and stares. Plus, EVERYWHERE I go, I get stopped and asked ‘Is it a wolf?’ To which I tend to Reply ‘Yes HE is, In your head.’ Followed by Explaining he is a Northern Inuit, just a large example of the breed. I have bred some Very large dogs and bitches in my years breeding them, I got my first in 1999.

    And believe me, if faced with a full on snarling NI you WILL back down. I’ve seen huge men reduced to fear by these dogs when they are protecting children. Something that every one of mine will do. They adore children and god forbid you go to harm one in their presence. You will see a different dog. But all in all, they are a very trainable, loving family dog. And as for movement, you should see mine lopping along on a scent. They move very wolf like.

  246. Laura
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y272/Pimperella13/DSCF3824.jpg

    Keano and my Daughter. Or as she now calls her. ‘Her Direwolf’

  247. fuelpagan
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Laura,

    Aww, too cute.

  248. Jeda
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure it’s been said many times over in all these comments: Given it’s a TV budget, and HBO took the series with a lot of good faith, these trained dogs do the part really well so far, better than CGI anyway. Yes, it is also important that the direwolves are incredibly huge and scary, but we’ve already seen the body of their mother in Episode 1, so non-readers know they are and HBO hasn’t forgotten. The only difference so far is that they grow a lot faster in the book and therefore have a bigger action role in the book. But if it’s just a budget restriction, and we see the direwolves getting bigger with better budgets later on, it’s a compromise I’m gladly willing to make. And if we judge by some of the early trailers where Ghost is the size of Jon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGAeydSFlqM on 0:17 [this one had the music edited but same pictures]) , I’m keeping my hopes up!

  249. Jeda
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Bard of Awen,

    Vermithrax was one of the most convincing if not the most convincing Dragon on screen, even if it certainly aged now. I seem to remember either Del Toro or Jackson state that he’s the one they had to beat with Smaug. By the way, did you notice they put Vermithrax’ name in the list of Dragon mentionned by Vyserys in ep4? ;-) They had to come up with names for that scene, I’ll have to listen to the full list again to see if they were other little easter eggs like this…

  250. stevescottisamoron
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Steven Scott,

    Sorry, didn’t realise you were a moron

  251. Andre Tanner
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    EvilClosetMonkey,

    The reason they have not used hybrids is that they are not so easy to work with,some of the dogs used are wolfdogs bred by myself not Inuits.
    Have a look at my web site and you can see the hybrids are much more wolf looking.
    http://www.wolfzone.info

  252. lloyd irvin rape
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I know this web site offers quality based articles and additional material,
    is there any other website which provides these things in quality?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mhladnik and Breno Leite, Winter Is Coming. Winter Is Coming said: New post: Northern Inuits double as direwolves http://bit.ly/e2VuT6 #GameofThrones [...]

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