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New Game of Thrones VFX reel shows how to pet a dragon

By Elizabeth Rayne
Drogon from Game of Thrones

With Season 8 of Game of Thrones creeping up on us like, well, winter, fan theories have been swarming the internet like ice zombie hordes—but seeing how some of Season 7’s monstrous creatures were brought to life reminds us of just why everyone is so excited.

This might blow your mind with a blast of dragon fire. Pixomondo are the VFX geniuses behind Dany’s flying lizards who once used a Trader Joe’s chicken to figure out dragon anatomy. Now they have just released another killer VFX reel from Season 7, which reveals how the wizards breathed life into things as gasp-worthy as the fortress of Dragonstone, the relentless undead, and, of course, those dragons.

Dragonstone only looks like a place you can visit in the flesh. Dany is actually sailing…from one green screen to the other. That’s right, Pixomondo digitally created the sea and all the surrounding boats, along with that astounding fortress and the jagged rocks it rises from—which may make you gasp as much as you did when you first beheld the majesty of the Targaryen stronghold. Even those dragon heads grinning at you from the gate are carved entirely from digital stone.

Since hatching Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion in the blaze that ended Season 2, Pixomondo has been figuring out ways to evolve these creatures as they grew. Imagine one of these huge beasts flying right at you and landing within kill distance.

When Jon Snow (Kit Harington) faces Drogon outside of Dragonstone, you could swear that is a living, breathing beast about to rip his head off. Pause the video at 1:54 to really appreciate the insane detail that went into this creature. You almost want to reach through the screen and touch it.

It may appear that the King in the North actually did pet Dany’s fiercest offspring, but that isn’t scaly skin. It’s a blue object vaguely shaped like a dragon’s snout, so that Harington actually had something to touch his fingers to and make the whole thing convincing when animated. Can you deny this was a moment that had you sucking in your breath as you waited to see whether Jon would get to keep his hand after that?

Now that you know the secrets of Dragonstone, how did that zombie that clambered out of the crate fall apart at Cersei’s feet? The actor is in a suit like a wearable green screen, which can have parts digitally added or taken away. That explains all that crumbling flesh. When he’s reduced to half a zombie, the legs were erased to create an eerily lifelike zombie shambling on just his arms.

If that was Season 7, then consider us more than ready for Season 8, which will finally reveal itself on HBO this April. What was your favorite effect last season? Let us know in the comments!

(via io9)