The first season of Game of Thrones takes place in a world where dragons had died out years ago, only revived by the end of Season 1 by Daenerys Targaryen. But HBO’s House of the Dragon, the prequel series set 172 years before Daenerys’ birth, kicks things off almost immediately with a sequence in which young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) soars through the sky astride her personal dragon Syrax.
What was it like filming that sequence, along with other dragon-flying scenes? “It’s incredibly mundane,” Alcock tells Consequence with a laugh.
During a recent press day for the series, the subject of dragon-riding, and what went into filming these sequences, was a part of the conversation with the members of the cast who were able to have that experience, which series star Matt Smith summed up as such: “It’s cool — you’re in the air, they move you around on remote control, they fire a load of wind and rain on you, and after about 10 hours, you want to get off.”
Technologically, the process for riding a dragon has evolved dramatically for House of the Dragon: Per The Hollywood Reporter, the dragon-flying scenes for the show were shot against a LED video wall (similar to the Volume used by Disney’s Star Wars shows) which created real-time backgrounds for the flying scenes:
The video wall made one of the Thrones‘ most grueling acting tasks far more enjoyable: riding the mechanical dragon rig. What used to be sitting on a mechanical bull-like device in front of a green screen for mind-numbing hours now allows actors to see what their characters are seeing as they “fly” through the skies.