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Have you seen Game of Thrones without the CGI effects?

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Amy Swales
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TV series Game of Thrones is loved for many things, but its impressive fantasy setting is obviously key to viewers being able to immerse themselves in the story as much as the books – where would we be without the sweeping battle landscapes and the fire-breathing dragons brought to life on our televisions?

Well, on set with a load of green screens, spray-can snow and blokes gluing stuff down, obviously.

Following fevered excitement over the series seven trailer, HBO has released a new behind-the-scenes clip providing a glimpse of the ridiculous amount of work that goes into creating such an epic programme – but be warned, seeing Daenerys without her dragons might unsettle you somewhat.

Watch the video below.

To be fair, Emilia Clarke still looks pretty fierce fire or no – she is earning her wage by hanging on to a massive bucking machine and pretending it’s a dragon.

The new clip prompted some websites to use pictures showing the incongruous sight of Clarke petting a long green stick on set. The images are actually stills from a 2013 video from visual effects company Pixomondo detailing how props were used in order to help Clarke get a physical sense of the invisible dragon she was supposed to be close to.

Said props included a decidedly lo-fi tennis ball on a stick, but it did the job so nobody’s complaining.

game of thrones cgi tennis ball dragon

The lesser-known tennis Wimbledon Dragon

These stand-ins were nicknamed ‘stuffies’, and in a 2012 interview, Clarke revealed some of the difficulties in filming with green screens.

She told huffingtonpost.com: “[The director said] ‘Can we cut – so, Emilia, remember that the dragons actually have weight, so you need to [remember] that’. And you’re like, ‘S***, okay, yeah, sorry, I know what I’m doing. How heavy is a dragon? How heavy is a dragon?!’

“I’m on set, looking at my shoulder intently and everyone around me is cracking up, and I’m like ‘No, no, no, no, I need to see it, I need to see him.’ And people are sort of looking at it like, ‘Oh, such an actor.’”



Clarke added: “They have these amazing life-scale models that we used for camera rehearsals for the sake of the CGI people, and I got very attached to them. They genuinely helped me and I kind of got very maternal towards these – fundamentally dolls, I suppose. But it was nice to have something physical that I could really picture in my mind.

“The dragons are what got me through season one and they’re such a huge part of Dany, so it wasn’t difficult, because I already have a relationship with them. But when you’re getting into the physicality of holding them and of moving them, that’s when it gets tricky, because you don’t want it to look not real. You don’t want, for one moment, for the audience to go, ‘Wait a second, where is she looking? That doesn’t make sense.’”



Various green screen secrets have been spilled before; in 2014, special effects company Mackvision released before and afters of various landscapes, revealing the computer wizardry that goes into making an everyday scene GoT-worthy.

Question is, do you really want to know how your favourite TV shows are made?

Game of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic July 17.

Images: HBO / Pixomodo

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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