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.