The Making of Dragon Slayer (Fantastic Article)

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  06 June 2013
The Making of Dragon Slayer (Fantastic Article)

Before 1981, no motion picture had brought to the screen a character identifiable as an iconic Dragon villain. Spanning from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad to The Brothers Lionheart, cinematic Dragons did not have considerably expanded antagonistic roles in the motion pictures they were featured in — Film audiences had yet to see an imposing, fire breathing villain. That was the objective the creative minds behind Dragonslayer had set for themselves: they wanted to create a memorable, formidable Dragon creature using the most advanced among the available technologies. Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins wrote the script for Dragonslayer (with Robbins being the director), and since its inception they were concerned about the complexity of bringing the monstrous beast to the screen.

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  06 June 2013
Still one of the best ever, even in the CG age, but especially phenomenal for the time. The movie is a little uneven, but the atmosphere and some of the shots were incredible.

Makes me think of other dragon efforts..

Dragonheart was technically good, but the cartoonish character design made it more like Pete's Dragon than anything else.

It's too bad Reign of Fire was in all other ways a terrible movie, because they actually did some mighty fine dragons in that film, and you could tell they were heavily influenced by Dragonslayer.

The dragon in Harry Potter (whichever) was really damn nice, not enough of it on screen for long though.

A good effort in Sucker Punch even though I hated that movie SO MUCH.

Daenerys's dragons aren't big enough to be mighty yet, though they're achieving a very high level of badassness already, especially for TV.

Fingers crossed for Smaug

Last edited by hypercube : 06 June 2013 at 11:25 PM.
  06 June 2013
Thanks for posting this. I recall the film's release in particular because it broke some VFX ground with that dragon. Pretty sure I have a CINEFEX discussing it, but this looks like a great read. Much appreciated.
  06 June 2013
What's funny about the discussion about the jaw bone was that we went through nearly the exact same testing phase for REVERSION: Duck Jaw... then Snake Jaw (with expanding rear area height).

Another note:

Originally Posted by Barwood & Robbins: We had a pretty fair idea of how this would be done, just from our knowledge of how these films in general are made. We knew what could be done, in general, and which things could never be done, so we wrote within those limits — which must be recognized, even with today’s high-technology special effects.

I think now that the FX are super-capable it is important to note the power of certain "limited uses".. for example, that shot in Dragonslayer of just the foot and a slow zoom in was done primarily because there was no full body dragon. But not being able to see the whole monster was part of the appeal in the build-up.

More directors need to remember that.

Also, for non-pros like us.. it's easy to get lost in the whole thing and go "fully body all the time". Which, given our limited resources is a huge mistake. At that level it is important to remember how the old films are made to stay within ones feasibility.
"Your most creative work is pre-production, once the film is in production, demands on time force you to produce rather than create."
My ArtStation
  06 June 2013
Roberto you beauty. Nice find!

Love this film to bits and remember very well to this day the first time I saw it as a 10 year old. Although Jurassic Park was a breakthrough, DragonSlayer isnt that far behind in incredible VFX. If they were allowed to go back in and solve some of the issues with compositing that were fixed in the SW special, it would still stand tall alongside JP. They couldn't have done better for the time DS was made, but it does leave one wishing it would get the loving special edition it so rightly deserves.

They should make a making of book for this one.
Silo, 3D Coat, Blender
C, Java
  06 June 2013
Mortal Kombat Annihilation had a terrible cgi dragon.

That's interesting about the hand puppet--I figured all the puppet shots were a large scale head.

In Dragonslayer when the dragon first blasts Galen in the cave and he hides behind his shield
there is a wide shot of the dragon shooting fire across to Galen behind his shield--on closer inspection the whole set is a miniature and the figure of Galen appears to be a standard metal toy soldier with a thick rectangular base visible.
  06 June 2013
It should be illegal to mention Mortal Kombat Annihilation in the same breath as any of the films mentioned in this thread.

I also remember being blown away by Dragonslayer as a kid. It was primarily because of the dragon, as I remember the movie being a bit slow otherwise. Watching later, as an adult, I could appreciate all the other great things about it besides the dragon. I would hate to see it get a special edition, particularly if they decided to go CG on the dragon.
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  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: I would hate to see it get a special edition, particularly if they decided to go CG on the dragon.

Well, I was only referring to the matte work. For example, thick matte lines and transparency issues where one can see the background through the actors. That would be it.
Silo, 3D Coat, Blender
C, Java
  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by hypercube:
It's too bad Reign of Fire was in all other ways a terrible movie, because they actually did some mighty fine dragons in that film, and you could tell they were heavily influenced by Dragonslayer.

A guilty pleasure on mine. I hate stupid films as much as anyone-but for some reason Reign of Fire's faults don't bother me. I saw it in the theatre and have it on DVD too.
Dragonslayer impressed me much when I saw it in the 80's. It doesn't look like its gotten to Blue Ray yet...but I might score it if it does.
  07 July 2013
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