Elizabeth Entenman
September 07, 2015 2:41 pm

Spoiler alert: The dragons in Game of Thrones aren’t real. (I know.) They’re created by a team of very talented motion capture experts. To get the dragons just so, they studied one example in particular. Was it Norbert from Harry Potter? Or Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon? Not quite: The experts turned to supermarket chickens.

When motion capturing, light is bounced off of reflective surfaces on an object. This process works great for humans, but apparently doesn’t work quite as well when it comes to animals. If not done correctly, movements can come off stiff. And if they’re too unrealistic, it can distract the viewer and take them out of the world they’re watching.

“The problem is that we’ve come really far in our ability to create meals and skin textures that can fool the audience, but when it comes to motion we’re still very much in the dark ages,” said PhD student Karl Abson. “When you try to animate something, the slightest motion, people notice it.”

What’s an example of “doing it right” then? He cites the dragons in Game of Thrones.

“Dragons don’t exist, but they exist in a ‘real’ CGI environment,” Abson continued. “These guys went to a supermarket and dissected a chicken to see how it was put together. They were looking for something that was as close to a dragon as possible and that’s what they came up with.”

Well, that’s pretty amazing! The next time you see Khaleesi hanging with her dragons — or serve a rotisserie chicken — you’ll have a random bit of trivia to throw into the conversation.

(Image via HBO.)