It’s been six years since Daenerys walked into the flames in the final moments of Game of Thrones‘ season 1 finale and emerged with three newborn dragons perched on her shoulders. We’ve watched them slowly mature over the intervening years and now, with season 7 set to premiere on July 16th, we’re going to see them play a significant role in this penultimate outing.
Much of the marketing for the new season has focused on the opposing forces of fire and ice (to the point of asking fans and reporters to watch a slowly melting block of ice that revealed the season premiere date), so we should certainly expect to see Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon unleash their full dragon-y power upon Westeros very soon. From the sounds of it, previous episodes “The Dance of Dragons” and “Battle of the Bastards,” amazing as they were, were merely a taster of what season 7 will bring.
Of course, three fully CGI dragons are expensive and complicated to make believable on television, leaving the show with some pretty tall expectations to live up to. But then again, Game of Thrones has never been known for its lack of ambition – from the beautiful vistas that fill the series to the armies of undead White Walkers and climactic battles.
Screen Rant recently spoke with VFX studio Rhythm & Hues in advance of the season 7 premiere, and they laid out the particular technical challenges of showing these dragons growing up:
“I can’t really give you any information about season 7. HBO is, of course, very sensitive to these things, but you can look at the progression from the previous seasons and things get bigger and more visually complex. And as each season moves along I would expect to see some of the things grow. So, the spectacle always gets bigger and bigger and bigger… if you look at what’s happened from season 5 to season 6 the dragon grew larger.
The challenges we saw from season 5 to season 6 was that you have to sell a scale and as things get larger so does their movement and you have to scale with that. So what might have been a smaller dragon in season 5 might have a particular flap cycle and particular cadence. The way it carries itself in flight would be different than what we did in season 6 – which was a larger dragon with a different cadence, a different flight angle, and different roll rate. So all of these things have to be accounted for in scale.
Even how we fit Dany on its back changed from season 5 to season 6 because the placement was different, how we attached her was different. So in the context of what we did then, that’s kind of how you have to deal with those challenges.”
This attention to detail is characteristic of the show, which has rarely cut corners in its efforts to bring George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy world to the small screen – and season 7 is looking as if it might be the most spectacular yet, cementing Game of Thrones‘ status as one of the greatest television series of all-time.