Season five of Game Of Thrones continued to up the ante in terms of spectacle and polish. The wight attacks in “Hardhome” captured a scale that is usually obscured by darkness or other sleight-of-hand tricks. One of the biggest effects sequences happened in the following episode, “The Dance Of Dragons.” Cornered by the Sons Of The Harpy, Daenerys is rescued by her dragon, Drogon, no less. Even if the scene wasn’t quite up to big-screen standards, it was more than adequate even for premium cable, and effectively kicked ass: the Sons were engulfed in jets of flame, and the Mother Of Dragons soared triumphantly to freedom.
Wired’s DesignFX column has carefully deconstructed the scene. Notable elements include the compositing of the stadium, and the amount of detail that went into Drogon. In addition to the physics of a winged creature spiraling into Spain’s Plaza del Toros, the artist had to render layer upon layer to get the requisite detail. Underneath all that is a carefully constructed skeleton and muscle system, which sells Drogon’s believable performance.