Filming Game of Thrones

A look inside the Indian studio responsible for creating the dragons

Game of Thrones really upped its visual effects game this past year. The Massacre at Hardhome alone probably had as many effects as the entire first season of the show, and Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons were bigger, badder, and more visually complicated than they’d ever been before. (Incidentally, the producers have promised that the dragons are going to double in size year season, so start getting scared now.)


Prana Studios had the honor of bringing the dragons to life, and most of that work was handed off to the 800 plus special effects professionals at the company’s Mumbai-based subsidiary. According to Quartz, HBO’s edict to them was simple: “Create not just creatures, but characters.”

“The producers wanted creatures that had a level of sophistication very high for any television series, and very realistic and engaging as the characters of creatures,” said Arish Fyzee, the CEO and creative director behind Prana Studios. I’d say they succeeded. Never before had I been more afraid that the dragons would bite off someone’s head, especially during the scene in Daznak’s Pit toward the end of “The Dance of Dragons.”

Unsurprisingly, the Pit scene was the most involved scene Prana Studios worked on in Season 5. In addition to animating the flaming ball of molten violence that was Drogon, the effects workers also created the set and crowd extensions for the season, something it accomplished in conjunction with American visual animation studio Rhythm and Hues, which is one of the better names I’ve heard for a special effects studio.

In addition to working on Game of Thrones, Prana Studios also works on Bollywood films like Detective Byomkesh Bakshi and Bombay Velvet. Having such ha strong base in India, Prana is obviously well-placed to work on these kinds of movies. Still, the studio does expect to return for next year. “We expect to be doing more with Game of Thrones,” Fyzee told Quartz. “There are more new creatures coming.”

New creatures. Merlings? Unicorns? Spiders as big as hounds? We’ll have to wait until Season 6 to be sure.


  • This is all very well and good, but the direwolves are equally important to the narrative as dragons and I personally wish they’d put a bit more effort into them, Ghost should rarely be gone from Jon’s side, not looking after Sam or eating bones in the corner of the screen… That’s just, like, my opinion, man……

  • Prana Studios I salute you, Awesome mind blowing! I did think S5 Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, should have been larger, but looks like that’s the idea for S6. Great Visuals!!!!!

  • Rhaegal and Viserion aren’t as big as Drogon because they’ve been held in captivity. I love the phrase “flaming ball of molten violence”. That made me lol.

  • Since D & D decided to pack Rickon off to the Last Hearth instead of the Isle of Skagos, I don’t hold out much hope that we’ll get to see him leading a unicorn cavalry. Alas.

    As for the giant ice spiders, been there, done that already in Mirkwood and the Forbidden Forest. I don’t really feel the need to see more – though I suppose they would be thrilling to the legions of arachnophobes.

    A kraken, on the other hand, would be cool…

    • “Unicorn Calvary must be from books… interesting,” G.R.R.M. A Song of Ice and Fire from the comments I’ve read, seems more medieval fantasy, sometimes whimsical than the showl!!