Special Effects Show

'Dragonheart' is a charming fantasy tale about a 'Knight of the old Code', the last surviving dragon and the 
friendship that develops between them.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Raffaella de Laurentiis (both on photo above) in Slovakia.
Phil Tippett designed the Dragon, an exceptionally computer graphic actor with the voice of Sean Connery.
Draco the Dragon speaks, he has feelings, soul and humor.
The innovative digital effects were handled by Industrial, Light & Magic.
Scott Squires was supervising the visual effects.
All the physical, pyrotechnic and atmospheric effects by Kit West.
'Dragonheart' - An incredibly complex effects show.

Dennis Quaid is Bowen the Dragonslayer - Dina Meyer is Kara.

Bowen and Draco.
Dennis Quaid: 'It was a big challenge to fight with dragons ...especially since they were not present at 
the shooting.' (Pressbook).
Sound recordings on the Bahamas. Sean Connery is the voice of Draco. 
On the right side, Director Rob Cohen with a full-size prop of Draco's head.
A full-size head prop of Draco placed in position to give the actors (and CGI crew) something to play with.
Used only for reference and later replaced by the CGI crew.
Tippett Studio Draco sculpture.
From a small sculpture to a full-size 'Jaw' set.
A mechanized Jaw and Tongue prop was built by the ILM creature shop.
Both fully manoeuvrable via joystick controls by puppeteers.
What an ingenious toy!
Kit: 'My department and I were entirely responsible for the construction and rigging of the 'mouthpiece rig' 
of the dragon. The crane arm, on which the mouthpiece is suspended, was a rig I originally built as a 
'poor man's' camera crane and later to support 'creatures' in the desert on "Stargate". 
We did tie Dennis Quaid in the mouth with a harness, as he had to be tossed about quite vigorously. 
The mouth movements were controlled by hydraulics.'
The great waterfall sequence - Production Art.
A 9 meter high and 6 meter wide waterfall was built. 
A steel structure with foam coating, surrounded by fiberglass boulders.
The Stick with eyes (red dots) stands in for Draco, guiding the eyelines of the actors.
Movie Scene - Behind the waterfall is a 'foam' cave.
Uuuh, creepy, gnawed bones everywhere... 
Special Effects Supervisor Kit West is the guy standing on the far left in the cave preparing the film's on-set effects.
Such a magic scene needs perfectly coordinated physical effects (Kit West), 
innovative digital effects (ILM) and a credible set.
Kit: 'All the waterfall and the lake in front of the waterfall was constructed 
by my department and of course the art department (Bejamin Fernandez). 
We provided five huge water pumps with their own electrical generator 
which rotated the water from the lake to up an over the rockfall. 
Air and water cannons were used to project the objects out through the falling water, 
and a short full size section of Draco's tail was pulled through the falling water, on rails. 
We (Special effects dept) supplied the exit 'splash' by use of air cannons, 
and ILM inserted the dragon flying out through the water.
The waterfall Set.
Kit: 'I have to say this was a lovely sequence to work on, the weather was hot, 
and everybody enjoyed working in the cool water spray.
Director Rob Cohen explaining the scene to Dennis Quaid and Dina Meyer.
A full-size spring-loaded Draco claw prop built by the ILM shop.
Test shots with a miniature sculpture of Draco on location in Slovakia.
They used the model to get the right light, size, position and distance for the composition.
A scene with Dennis Quaid - Background plate for the flying Draco.
A simplified wire frame version of the flying Draco.
The wire frame Draco projected on the background plate.
The final composition / animation.
Draco is, at all levels, a highly complex state-of-the-art computer generated 'actor'.
A superlatively developed computer animation (1996) ....with the distinctive voice of Sean Connery.
The microlight aircraft, controlled by David Crook, was playing the flying Draco on the Set.
The actors always knew where they had to look.
The aircraft was removed from the background plate and replaced with the CG Draco. 
And they used the microlight aircraft to get shots from the perspective of Draco. 
It had a Vistavision camera mounted to its nose.
Wasn't Brian Johnson involed in the microlight show?
Kit: 'Yes, Brian Johnson was involved only in the microlights (small single engine air planes) to 
photograph aerial shots, to be used as background plates for flying shots of the dragon.'
Big rain-making cranes are positioned for a wet night shot at the 'Ruins of Avalon' (Spissky Castle, Slovakia).
Kit: '...the nights we shot this rain sequence it was near zero temperature, and a cold 'wet' night in 
Slovakia does not go to making a happy crew. There were three consecutive nights in these conditions. 
I was not number one on the crews list ...I TOLD THEM, "DON'T BLAME ME - I DIDN'T WRITE THE DAMN SCRIPT".'
The interactive effects and pyrotechnic gags Kit set off on the show will be presented in a second 
Dragonheart story.