Press Production

VFX supervisor talks creating the dragons

In an interview with Vulture, Pixomondo’s VFX supervisor Sven Martin talks about how they went about creating the dragons for season 3.

“The main idea for them this season was capturing the difference between how they look when they’re demure and when they’re threatening.” As babies, the dragons were able to dispose of the warlocks by setting them ablaze, but Martin said that was nothing compared to the terror they can now inspire. “We haven’t seen them really angry yet.”

The personalities of each of the three dragons will emerge more fully later in the season, but for now, Martin said to consider the black dragon, Drogon, the leader. “The other two are his wingmen.” Here’s a preview: A few episodes from now, Drogon will get a bit aggravated, and for that, Martin added features inspired by the well-documented reactions of “angry swans” and a famous movie beast. “One of the things that we played with that’s also new is frill and what it would look like when they’re mad. There are real lizards that have it. Or you may have seen it before in the first Jurassic Park, where the dinosaur is screaming at the guy in the car.”

There’s more at the source including what real-world animals they used as a reference for the dragons in flight.

Winter Is Coming: Love reading about this kind of stuff. Just another layer of incredible detail put into this show.

61 Comments

  • if you’re talking the scene from Jurassic Park, I assume they mean where Newman is in the driving rain and his car gets stuck?

    (speaking of Newman – give him a beard & mustache and you have Lord Manderly…)

  • There are three dragons right? Drogon. Viserion. What’s the third again?

    Oh yeah, I remember:

    Hodon.

  • Can’t wait to see more of their personalities come out! Also, I like Drogon and all but let see a bit of the other two for once.

  • Nick_Scryer:
    Can’t wait to see more of their personalities come out! Also, I like Drogon and all but let see a bit of the other two for once.

    Well, it’s easier to spend more money on one of the main dragons and make him look amazing, and have the other two off in the distance and not have to have as much detail with closeups and shit.

  • Don’t have Dance nearby. Did Rhaegal or Vyserion kill Quentyn? I remember a comment at the end of Dance that one of those two was considered a lot more dangerous than the other

  • Speaking of dragons if anyone’s been following the Television Without Pity Unspoiled Thread there is a veteran Unsullied there who prompted by a prediction made by a poster I believe to be a BookWalker in disguise, gave a dissertation on how horrible and cheap this plot twist would be. The fake UnSullied hinted Dany could fake an exchange with the dragons and then kill the slaver with her dragons. The veteran unsullied let it be known that this would piss him off as cheap deus Ex machina. To wit this unsullied also hated the shadowbaby as a device to get rid of Renly despite that its use had thematic and story consequences down the line.

    This guy will be pissed very soon.I think we will lose some Unsullied once the fantasy elements begin taking over.

  • Joshua Taylor: This guy will be pissed very soon.I think we will lose some Unsullied once the fantasy elements begin taking over.

    Yeah, because we all know how poorly all those Lord of the Rings movies did.

  • Joshua Taylor,

    I don’t know if it’s a fake Unsullied. I saw that twist coming from a mile off in the books, with it becoming even more obvious when Dany says she’ll trade one of her dragons. For that reason I never considered it a particularly ‘wow’ moment in ASOS – but the tv show may well make it so, if they do it more subtly. Nevertheless, there are so many other great moments this season, I doubt the Unsullied will be too disappointed.

  • HBO needs more dragon money. At least one cuddly moment with all the babies would suffice. The other two dragons need a better agent to fight for their star power. ;)

    VFX in this show is incredible!

  • Rhaegal is definitely the dragon that is stated to be more aggressive once they escape. However, I’m pretty sure that each dragon killed a man in that scene.

  • GRRM is obviously an excellent writer but I still want to know what in hell was the point of Quentyn’s storyline? I’m probably due a re-read but was there anything in it that warranted him as a POV character? Couldn’t he have been seen only though Dany’s eyes, or indeed simply cut from the story entirely?

  • ANiceChianti,

    Yup, Viserion kills the crossbow man that shoots him if I remember correctly.

    That whole scene should translate REALLY well to Tv. Actually, a lot of AFFC/ADWD scenes that seem ok or meh in the books should turn out well on screen.

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    the thing that i got out of it is that the Martell’s want to help the Targaryens, and with Dany rejecting Quentyn this leaves “Aegon” a chance to swoop in and pick them up. but i dont know.

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    I’m sure Dorne will have a much bigger part in the next book and hopefully we’ll be able to see some of the dots connecting together. Thats a good question tho.

  • Sky Aero,

    The easiest way to remember is that Dany named the green one Rhaegal cuz Rhaegar was killed on the green banks of the Trident.

  • Anonymous,

    Nice to see they’re considering filming during summer. The “bright summer night” they describe in the article would be perfect for the battle at the wall IMO.

  • As far as VFX go, GoT is second to none.

    I am still amazed at how awesome that giant and these dragons look. This TV series has the best VFX team of any TV series ever, by far…

    When Dany has to stare down Drogon in that pit, then mount him and ride him, I will sit there in tears. Think of how epic that scene will be!

    Edit: You know that menacing, evil stare Dany gives (like right at the end of season 3, episode 1). She is going to have to look right into Drogon’s eyes with that stare…

  • I really like the idea that someone threw out on one of the sites that they’ll let Oberyn live through the fight with The Mountain and send him to Mereen to take the place of Quentyn. The show seems to like (and rightly so) having multipurpose characters. It would also give Quentyn-Oberyn’s death more impact since the Red Viper will, no doubt, become a second tier favorite.

  • zod,

    I forgot about that part but trial by combat doesn’t need to end in death. Oberyn could be grievously wounded and yield (though I think that book!Oberyn would die fighting, we don’t know anything about show!Oberyn yet). If that occurred, Tyrion would still be found guilty and the story proceeds as before.

  • Family, Duty, Hodor: hell was the point of Quentyn’s storyline? I’m probably due a re-read but was there anything in it that warranted him as a POV character? Couldn’t he have been seen only though

    There is an interesting discussion here about Quentyn’s story being a fullfilment of a prophecy given to Dany by an old witch, if ever it was a prophecy. Kinda like in the lord of the rings when the witchking says: “no man can kill me” and he was indeed killed by a no-man..

  • Valyrion Blackfyre,

    Yeah, I had heard of that theory but wasn’t a fan. Prophecy is an element of fantasy that many like but it’s not really my cup of tea tbh. As has been mentioned, Quentyn did clarify the fact that Martells had planned to help the Targs, but in all honesty GRRM only really needed Doran to confirm that.

    Perhaps GRRM originally intended for Quentyn to have a bigger role but then encountered problems with a Meereneese knot and had to scrap it? His solution of using Barristan Selmy definitely did seem like a return to form in ADWD

  • Valyrion Blackfyre: There is an interesting discussion here about Quentyn’s story being a fullfilment of a prophecy given to Dany by an old witch, if ever it was a prophecy. Kinda like in the lord of the rings when the witchking says: “no man can kill me” and he was indeed killed by a no-man..

    POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!! I’m on the mobile version and I forget how to tag spoilers…

    When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east…

    Anyway, shooting in Iceland? Why?

    And I really hope they don’t mean to deal with Bran’s stuff from book 5 this early because it would leave literally 2 seasons of no Bran or very pointless scenes until they get to season 6/7 and they can use TWoW.

    And why hasn’t anyone asked George about his progress with TWoW? They keep asking him when it’s coming out and he always answers the same “not next week, that’s for sure” remark. If they ask him something like “Are you happy with your progress in TWoW? Are you nearing the middle point?” Than he might answer and then we can make our own estimations.

  • Arthur,

    I was pretty disappointed by AFFC and ADWD overall, but I have high hopes for the show’s adaptation of the material. I found Dany’s psychodramatic maternal tendencies to be tedious on the page, but the show will have to streamline the whole lot of nothing that pads out her arc, which I believe will only strengthen her storyline, among others.

  • Anguissette1979,

    We need the Mountain to die after that duel, so that he can become Robert Strong and play whatever role he has in the story.

    Why would Oberyn yield while the Mountain lies on the ground dying?

  • Family, Duty, Hodor: Yeah, I had heard of that theory but wasn’t a fan. Prophecy is an element of fantasy that many like but it’s not really my cup of tea tbh

    Neither am I too fond of prophecies. That is why I made it clear the theory isn’t mine :)

  • Valyrion Blackfyre,

    Haha, although I do like how GRRM teases us with prophecies which seem to be fulfilled in multiple ways (and sometimes no way at all). Prophecies are always better when they’re not clear cut.

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    In my readings of the first three books, I’ve found prophecy to be a compelling theme in ASOIAF, more so than in most series. There is the failed prophecy of Rhaego and the Stallion That Mounts The World, and persisting prophecies that guide the characters throughout the books, such as that of Azor Ahai, among others. In the books more so than the series, we get a great look at the partial truths to most of the practiced religions in the world of ASOIAF. Most faiths have their confirming moments, accompanied by suggestions of their limitations, such as the dependence of the Old Gods on weirwoods, and raising the dead by the powers of fire and ice, which come with their own sets of consequences. Even the side effects of Stannis and his siring of shadow assassins reflects the balance of potency and human cost that defines the magic of the setting. I find the mix of affirmations and fallibility present in the prophesy and faiths of ASOIAF to be some of the most interesting aspects of GRRM’s world.

  • Nick_Scryer:
    Anonymous,

    Interesting…

    They’re looking to use Iceland during the summer, so no snow right?

    No snow but plenty of Ice, as a big part of the Island is covered by glaciers ;)

    Regarding the light issue, I spent 3 weeks in Iceland during august, doing the Circle Road Route (basically circling the island anticlockwise throught the only road they have :P) and by then the sun set around 22-23h and came back up at around 5-6…they did tell me though than in June the sun doesn’t set.

    So it will largely depend on when in Summer will they film

    PS: Btw, the guys at AnimeReal TalkTV are back! http://winteriscoming.net/2013/04/recap-round-up-valar-dohaeris/#comments

  • WompWomp,
    I certainly agree with you to an extent. What I don’t like about prophecies in fantasy, in general, is when they’re fulfilled absolutely (from my experience). GRRM, however, plays it cleverlyand keeps prophecies bubbling beneath the surface rather than making them becoming the focus of the storyline.

  • The dragons in the first episode of the third season have been the most impressive they’ve looked during the whole series. Drogon catching that fish is awesome. The VFX people also appear to be slowly changing his appearance from cute and innocent to what we expect to be a ferocious killing machine.

    That being said, the first dragon scenes give me hope that the show will be able to do justice to the scene where Daenerys flys on Drogon for the first time in a ADWD Hopefully the show lives long enough to see that moment, it’s one of my favorites in the books thus far.

  • The Pixomondo guys showed a making of reel of the second season at a “Song of Ice and Fire” reading with Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen) in Germany last year. Looked awesome!

    They also showed pictures how they would like the grown dragons to look like and hoped they would be on board that long because every CGI artist wants to create dragons. ;) Very nice people! I really hope they will continue to work on the show the next seasons too!

  • I am looking forward to the show fixing the book 4/5 split. I keep hoping they will do revised books that combine them properly.

  • Anonymous,

    NO! They need to start filming beyond the Wall stuff in forests. Iceland is so dull and wrong for beyond the Wall scenes. And they need to start shooting some beyond the Wall stuff at night. In Iceland they only shoot during the day.

  • coronaking: They also showed pictures how they would like the grown dragons to look like

    Are you sure about that? I just searched for these pictures on Google, but didn’t find anything. :(

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    I don’t know…read the thread this guy who is very astute at the politics if the Seven Kingdoms is basically saying such a move will be the lowest of the low for the series. This guy will be PISSED. He’s still adamantly telling other Unsullied off for even considering the option.

  • zod: Are you sure about that? I just searched for these pictures on Google, but didn’t find anything.:(

    They showed them at the reading last year. I don’t think I ever saw them online, too.

  • For a probable influence on the dragons’ frills, see this critter; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frill-necked_lizard

  • Joshua Taylor,
    Lol, you’re probably right (haven’t read his previous posts) but my least favourite moment in the entire series was smoke baby Baratheon (black of air).

    It had the air of Deus Ex Machina.