How to train your ‘Drogon’: Image Engine’s rendezvous with Game of Thrones season seven

IN THE PRESS | AnimationXpress | February 22, 2018 | Original Article

The seventh season of the cult fantasy drama Game of Thrones is the one set in stone. For it wasn’t just the highest rated from the franchise, but also the most viewed, garnering a preposterous viewership of over 30 million over the course of the season. The culminating episode, The Dragon and the Wolf, alone accounted for 16.1 million views at the time of its broadcast as reported by Nielson data, making it the most watched episode of the series.

Of the many factors behind these absurd numbers, one certainly was the The Loot Train sequence featuring Daenerys’ monstrous dragon that wreaked havoc at the scene of the conflict, setting things aflame left, right and centre. Drogon, as it’s addressed in the show, perhaps became the biggest talking point of the season and also testifies the record-breaking viewership figures the show witnessed.

So whilst it was exhilarating to watch, a lot has gone into making. Vancouver-based VFX studios Image Engine burnt the candle at both ends to pull it all together, and VFX supervisor Thomas Schelesny takes us behind the scenes to unravel the theoretical and technical nitty-grittys in shooting the same. Including the flames-emitting, deleterious Drogon!

How did you get associated with Game of Thrones?

Image Engine is well known as a creature shop for projects like District 9, Fantastic Beasts and Logan. But, what the studio has also built up over time is a solid track record for sterling compositing and seamless invisible visual effects work, which is what initially drew interest from Game of Thrones. Creating creatures for season seven posited this production directly into our wheelhouse as a studio.

As for myself, I spent 14 years animating and VFX supervising at Tippett Studio, so creature and character work is my genre. After moving to Vancouver in 2012, I supervised the first full-CG White Walkers on episode 10 of season four, The Children, for which I received an Emmy Award. I’d always wanted to be involved with the Dragons and when I heard that Image Engine was going to tackle these characters it turned out to be a perfect fit.

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