House Of The Dragon Borrowed A Star Wars Trick To Make Its Dragon Riding More Realistic

Most would consider it an unenviable task for any show to follow up on the pop culture phenomenon known as "Game of Thrones." After successfully getting audiences to become invested in a colorful and wide-ranging cast of characters, could HBO possibly get lightning to strike twice with "House of the Dragon"? Early returns would seem to answer that question in the affirmative, even if it was a years-long uphill battle to get there. But perhaps it wasn't so bad to debut years after the original series first paved the way — at least as far as the cast and crew are concerned.

As anyone with older siblings can tell you, there are certain advantages to being the new kid on the block. For one thing, "House of the Dragon" has benefited from a much more generous budget right from the outset than "Game of Thrones" ever did. That doesn't just mean more convincing visual effects work, more spectacular locations, and fully lived-in sets, however. It's also resulted in an even more immersive filming experience for the actors. In the marketing preceding the release of "House of the Dragon," fans were given an early indication of just how different things would be ... particularly when it comes to the many dragons involved.

And, yes, the production crew ended up utilizing the same tech popularized by recent "Star Wars" projects.

'It's radically different'

The premiere of "House of the Dragon" wastes little time showing off just how different it is from the early seasons of "Game of Thrones," opening with a sweeping sequence of Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) soaring through the skies on her dragon. Thankfully for all involved, the process of actually filming such scenes was much easier this time around than it ever was in the original show. 

An extensive profile published by The Hollywood Reporter revealed how the production took a page out of the "Star Wars" playbook, using the LED screens prevalent in Stagecraft technology (also known as The Volume). Although the cast was still stuck riding the same "mundane" mechanical rigs, the addition of video walls giving the performers a sense of the actual background of each shot helped make the process that much more enjoyable. According to Emma D'Arcy, who will play an older Rhaenyra Targaryen in later episodes of the series:

"From everything I've heard, it's radically different from what people on 'Thrones' had to put up with. I loved it. It's like going to an Ikea and trying all the kitchen taps."

Actors involved in productions like "The Mandalorian" and Matt Reeves' "The Batman" have all spoken in similarly glowing terms about the new technology, allowing practical effects and visual effects to work in tandem to create even more convincing results. It's fascinating to receive even more insights into how much of a difference it makes from the behind-the-scenes perspective.

New episode of "House of the Dragon" air on HBO every Sunday.