Dungeons, Dragons and Animations

September 22, 2010

Dragons have both terrified and captured the hearts and minds of kids and adults alike. These mythical creatures are also Hollywood’s trial by fire for any animation studios because of the sheer size of the work that encompasses the creation of dragons. If anything, dragons in the silver screen have evolved from simple stop motion animation to complex pixels, polygons and other shapes and textures.

Recent movies such as “Reign of Fire” and “How to Train Your Dragon” have showed us that dragons in movies come in various ranges and sizes.

For the movie Reign of Fire that stars Matthew McConaughey opposite Christian Bale showed a society on the brink of destruction thanks to ferocious dragons. Rob Bowman, director for the movie wanted to have dragons that were as vicious and as organic as possible, which was given to The Secret Lab. Secret Lab’s co-visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw stepped up to the plate to unleash the beast. DeLeeuw has previously worked with Hollywood blockbusters such as Mighty Joe Young and Armageddon and has a vast amount of experience in dealing with animation and CGI. But he admits that the challenge was worthwhile. He relates about building the dragon for Reign of Fire in three parts. Sketching the design on paper, sculpted it in clay and later building the dragon in the computer, stating that the scales alone were “mind-boggling”.

This process has been done in various animation companies regardless if they are building dragons or 3D walkthroughs or floor plans. All animation firms that wants high quality outputs for their clients subscribes fully to these methods. Take companies like Animation-1 and 3Dwalkthroughs.com. Both companies require utmost precision in crafting the best animated walkthroughs and 2 dimensional or 3d floor plans for their clients.

While “Reign of Fire” showed the brutality and ferocity of these mythical creatures, Dreamworks’ “How To Train Your Dragon” followed a more wholesome and comedic path. The movie follows Cressida Cowell’s famous book about the friendship between Viking Boy Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. Animation wise, no images were animated without researching about the place and the various animation effects for fire.