Game of Thrones SFX artist remembers bringing the baby dragons to life


Ten years ago, Daenerys Targaryen stood up in the ashes of the pyre for her husband Khal Drogo. When she walked in no one expected her to come out alive, but not only was she unharmed; she rose with three baby dragons, kicking off a story that would take seven more seasons to play out.

To this day, it’s one of the most iconic moments on Game of Thrones, and it was put together by a then-new London-based special effects company called BlueBolt Ltd., which was founded by Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor. “I think we all knew once we got going that this was something special as a TV show – there was such a build-up in the scripts, which were gripping to read, to be honest,” Ainsworth-Taylor recently told Pop Culture. “The Dragons were highly anticipated so even for us creating them, seeing them come alive in post was very exciting. However, no one could have realised that the show was going to be such a global phenomenon.”

BlueBolt was responsible for doing the special effects on the first season of the show, although it didn’t return for subsequent seasons, mainly because it was still small at the time and not suited to scale up the effects as the show needed. Even getting the work done for the comparatively simple first season was a big challenge. “I am glad I went in as naïve as I did because there is no other way to describe the prep period other than being brutal!” Ainsworth-Taylor said. “We shot out of order so started on Episodes 3 and 4 then came back to Episodes 1 and 2 – I think getting your head around the locations, characters and more importantly the pace we galloped out of the gate was mind-blowing. The crew on Season 1 were exceptional. We had a brilliant collaboration working closely with Gemma Jackson and her art department which was one of the highlights.”

Clearly, their work paid off, with their renderings of Dany’s dragons going on to define how they would look for the rest of the series, and beyond into the spin-off House of the Dragon.

George R.R. Martin was “very involved” in conceiving the dragons on Game of Thrones

Of course, they had solid concept art to work with from the creators of the show themselves. “[George R.R. Martin] was very involved in the initial concept drawings as were [showrunner David Benioff and Dan Weiss] but not directly with us,” Ainsworth-Taylor said. “We only had to make a minor tweak so that when it turned its little head if had full movement and not ridges on that part of the neck to stop it from doing that.”

In the end, BlueBolt went on to work on shows like The Last Kingdom and Peaky Blinders, and is still going strong today. “It is a very busy time now with so many streamers making content,” Ainsworth-Taylor said. But there’ll always be something magical about that first job. “You knew it was big just by being on set and seeing the approach HBO took from the go. It was bigger than most Hollywood film sets I’d been on, the crew, the equipment, the whole approach was just huge and Season 1 was tiny compared to what it became.  The cutting rooms were up and running and stepping in to see what was coming through already showed how incredible this show was going to be.”

Next. The 50 most iconic looks from Game of Thrones. dark

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