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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The 'Game Of Thrones' Dragons

02/06/2015 08:38 am ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015
HBO

"All that we do is try to make them as awesome as possible."


Image: Giphy

If you want to know something about the "Game of Thrones" dragons, look no further than visual effects supervisor Jabbar Raisani. He's one of the people who brings the dragons to life, but that's not all the visual effects pro is known for.

In addition to his work on "GoT," Raisani's credits include "Iron Man," "Fantastic Four," "Machete" and he's making his directorial debut with his latest movie, "Alien Outpost." The film follows two documentary cameramen embedded in an army unit as they try to fight off the last remaining aliens from a thwarted invasion. Raisani told HuffPost Entertainment that the project is the type of movie made for multiple viewings, allowing you to discover clues and hidden details missed the first time around. Check out the trailer:

Raisani spoke with HuffPost about the new movie, his "Game of Thrones" experience and pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the dragons:

Did you always want to direct?
I was pretty happy moving up the visual effects chain. And then I worked on "Iron Man," and when we first brought out the Iron Man suit on set, just watching [director] Jon Favreau and the way he worked, the way he figured out how he was going to shoot it ... from that point on, I set my sights on figuring out how to get there.

How did your past work influence "Alien Outpost"?
I was fortunate to do something like “Game of Thrones” before my film because I got to see just how effective good planning can be. So one of the things I pushed for on "Outpost" was to give me as much prep on the location as I can possibly get. And through that amount of prep time, you can really plan how you are going to execute. We would actually rewrite the script based on the locations that we ended up getting.

So what is it like working on "Game of Thrones"?
I think the whole atmosphere is top down, where Dan Weiss and David Benioff are awesome. They really care about the show. They care about the crew. They care about the people. There’s an executive producer named Bernadette Caulfield. She’s like the woman that does everything. And then we’re doing all kinds of huge, big sequences. There’s nothing else I can think of that’s ever been on TV like it, so it’s awesome to work on.

Did you read the books?
I read them like eight years before I worked on the show, and once I heard they were going to make the show, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get on it.

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Image: Giphy

How did you get the job?
I was negotiating a deal on something totally different after [working on "Fright Night"] and got in touch with the visual effects supervisor, Joe Bauer. He said, “Hey, instead of doing this other thing you’re talking about, why don’t you come and join me on my show.” And I was like, “What’s your show?” And he said, “Game of Thrones,” And I said, “Okay! When do I start?" That’s one of those things that it’s so awesome the way it worked, especially in Hollywood. It happens when you’re not trying to make it happen.

How hard is it not talking about the things you're working on?
It’s tough, especially when you’re a fan of the books, and you’re like, “Holy shit! We just did that scene today that’s in the books!" But you can’t tell anybody. You can’t reveal it. It’s awesome that everyone on the show is sort of the same. Everyone knows that you just don’t talk about it.

What's something fans don't know about working on the show?
There’s these really hard working talented guys called data wranglers who work really closely with the visual effects supervisor. And they’re the unsung heroes of the visual effects department. They’re carrying the direwolves. These things, we call it a "stuffie" -- so it’s like a full-size direwolf that has little trash bags on its feet to keep it from getting muddy in the rain, and these guys just carry it and truck it through all these horrible terrains, difficult terrains to navigate. It’s little stuff like that, that never shows up on camera.


Image: Giphy

How do you bring the dragons to life?
We have our stuffie, which is our visual representation of what the dragon would look like. I mean, they’re so big now it’s not to scale anymore. It’s just a representation that shows us what the lighting is going to be like, what the texture is going to be like. So we start with that. And we typically, depending on what the dragon’s action is, we'll have a long green pole with a green tennis ball on the end of it, which you’ve probably seen being flown around the set, so everybody’s looking at the same place. Nothing hurts more than when two or three different actors all have different eye lines for the same creature.

How are these dragons different from the ones in the book?
Oh man, I don’t know. I’d have to really read through the book again to remember the descriptions. I don’t know how they differ. I can’t say. We definitely strive to meet the expectations of the readers. All that we do is try to make them as awesome as possible, and, if not only match the readers' expectations, hopefully we’re exceeding them.

What does George R. R. Martin say about the effects?
You know, the only thing I’ve heard from George is he said, “Are you one of the guys who makes the dragons?” And I said, "Yes." He said, “Awesome,” and he gave me this pendant for my backpack, and I still have it on my bag. It’s like a dragon pendant, so he’s a big fan of the dragons, and that’s enough for me.


Image: Giphy

What makes these dragons unique?
One thing that’s really cool is the detail that Joe Bauer put in there, which is when they’re blowing fire there’s a ripple you can see throughout their neck ... Little details like that have been added, and I think they’re really cool and are just unique to these dragons.

Where do the "Game of Thrones" dragons rank among other ones out there?
I’d definitely say they’re in that top tier. With Smaug [from "The Hobbit"], it’s a little bit different in that Smaug is like a talking dragon. It sort of has a whole different character than what these dragons have. I’m thinking like "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Those are dragons that I think are awesome. I think it’s in that world, and the fact that it’s done on a television schedule is incredible. They’re as awesome to make as they are to watch.

Drogon from "Game of Thrones" vs. Hungarian Horntail from "Harry Potter"? Who's winning?
Good fight! I'm going to go with Drogon Season 5 because of his size.

What's been your favorite scene from the books to bring to life on screen?
I can’t say what scene it is because it’s in Season 5. It’ll be epic, and there will be dragons.


Image: Giphy

Raisani's new movie "Alien Outpost" is in select theaters throughout the country, including Los Angeles and New York. It's also available on iTunes, Xbox, Google Play, Amazon and through cable providers On Demand.

Also on HuffPost:

"Game of Thrones" Season 5
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