The hardest thing to animate on Game of Thrones were Daenerys’ legs

zaib055April 13, 2022

Over the course of its eight seasons, Game Of Thrones became justly famous for its dragon scenes. What started off as three adorable little plushies grew into fearsome flying murder machines by the end of the series.

The character most associated with the dragons, of course, is Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who finally rode one — Drogon, her favorite — in the season 5 episode “The Dance of Dragons.” This was a huge moment for the show, and still exciting today:

That said, I remember thinking that Daenerys looked a little awkward after she mounted Drogon and he took off into the sky, particularly when they cut to a sideways shot. The CGI, which is usually very clean on Game Of Thronesstuck out.

Tea Game Of Thrones VFX team had to “replace [Emilia Clarke’s] legs” when she was riding Drogon

As it ends up, this was a sticking point for the special effects team, as VFX supervisor Derek Spears explained to Cracked. “So we had the dragon flying and the muscles moving — but Dany’s legs didn’t react to any of it,” he said. “So we had to replace her legacy. We ended up replacing her legs on so many of the shots just to get it to follow the trap muscles on the back of the dragon. It was a nightmare … Some of the shots, we replaced her legs completely; others we mapped them on to a new piece of geometry and moved them around. Literally we had to deform the lower half of her body to make it fit.”

That actually makes a ton of sense, and explains why Dany’s initial flight never looked quite right to me. Spears said that it was nuts that of all the complicated effects involved in bringing the dragons to life — the flying, the fire-breathing, etc — it was Emilia Clarke’s legs that gave them the most trouble.

That said, the effects improved as Daenerys rode her dragons more often, and by the end of the show they looked pretty much seamless. And that’s the point HBO will be starting from when the Game Of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon premieres in August.

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