Creating the Teenage Dragons of 'Game of Thrones'

One of the biggest draws of HBO's hit show Game of Thrones is its ability to transport its viewers into another world. One way that the show's creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, manage to do that is by enlisting talented VFX artists to transform Northern Ireland (as well as its other filming locations) into Westeros and Essos, as well as cleverly animating imaginary creatures, like Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons. Focusing on conceptualizing their idea, this short video from fxguide and WIRED reveals how VFX company Pixomondo brought the dragons on Game of Thrones to life.

As the video explains, it's quite a task to create something with visual effects and make it photorealistic, especially if the thing you're creating doesn't even exist in the natural world.

One of the difficulties with creating the dragons in season 3 of Game of Thrones was not only making their movements physically plausible, but also taking into account the fact that the dragons weren't full-grown, but adolescents. How do teenage dragons move around? How do they fly?

The team had to determine this by calculating and testing things like lift to wing ratios with digital wind tunnel simulations and water simulations, and referencing certain real world creatures like eagles and bats.

Check out the video below for more on the thought process and motivation behind creating these winged creatures.

All of this and more went into bringing the adolescent dragons to life in a realistic, though age appropriately awkward and slightly unskilled way.

What do you think of Pixomondo thought process/efforts? Do you think producing VFX this complicated is practical for no-budget indie filmmakers?

[via vfxguide & Filmmaker IQ]

Your Comment


I have been completely captivated with the work on that show. The dragons being a big part of it. How they can be so menacing, then cute to their mother is amazing.

September 11, 2013 at 12:37PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Allan Crocket

"Do you think producing VFX this complicated is practical for no-budget indie filmmakers?"

I'm going to go out on a limb and say no.

September 11, 2013 at 5:12PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Not unless your VFX guy is working for free.

September 11, 2013 at 8:01PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


did we just watch the same video?

September 11, 2013 at 9:16PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Not unless your *50* VFX guys are working for free ;D

September 12, 2013 at 1:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Alex Rednaxela

Thought there is always room for the realists and the naysayers, I'd say that there is a great deal that one person can accomplish.

The movie "Monsters" by Gareth Edwards being the case in point example of a one man vfx team. He's now moving on to directing Godzilla. Kudos to the optimists and the yeasayers.

September 12, 2013 at 8:09AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Robert Thorpe

Hear, hear!

September 13, 2013 at 3:00AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

V Renée
Content Manager at Coverfly

Bravo! "I'll make it happen" beats "I can't" any day of the week.

September 13, 2013 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


My understanding is that rendering is the enemy of the one man band, with CPU being in dominance compared to GPU options. Can anyone offer an insight ?

September 12, 2013 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


As much as I like GOT, the dragons always looked fake to me. It may be good CGI but it's not realistic. CGI monkeys in recent Holywood movies look fake too.

September 12, 2013 at 12:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM