This is the second part of the Berk’s Grapevine coverage of Race to the Edge! Keep checking back this week for more information about the show and School of Dragons! The previous part was about Story, Characters, and Dragons.
Dragon’s Edge Huts
Houses on Berk were designed to be destroyed every few weeks. True to real Viking design, Berk houses are shaped a bit like boats. However, now that dragons are no longer a threat, house design on Berk and on the Dragon’s Edge is more varied because the Vikings can build whatever they want.
Each of the riders’ houses on the Dragon’s Edge is somehow related to their personality the dragon they ride. Hiccup’s hut has a Toothless-inspired design with a built in forge and plenty of crazy contraptions and a windmill. Astrid, as you might expect, builds more of a fortress than a hut. Fishlegs, interested in learning and the history of dragons, builds a tranquil meditation house and a garden that, unsurprisingly given that the island is full of dragons, burns down before the end of the season.
The twins have very different personalities: Ruffnut is more orderly, while Tuffnut enjoys the crazy and impractical. Together, they build something so convoluted that it requires giant balloons to keep it standing upright. Snotlout is now the shortest of the dragon riders, but is never one to be bested. So, he installs a crank to raise and lower his hut so that his is always the tallest hut on the island. He also keeps a water tank next to his hut, just in case his flammable dragon sets the entire thing on fire.
Building the Dragon’s Edge
In the first two seasons, there is a lot of talking done in the Great Hall. The Dragon’s Edge clubhouse was designed to be a kind of Great Hall for the Dragon’s Edge. One of the problems David Jones, visual effects supervisor for the show, realized was the lack of variety in Great Hall shots. The clubhouse was designed to prevent this. It is infinitely configurable, with different doors and windows to open that show a view of the islands around the Dragon’s Edge.
Unlike Berk, the Dragon’s Edge is designed vertically. Because everyone has dragons, there’s no need to construct buildings on the same height or to build bridges or paths. However, this does mean that they need to build huge stables for their dragons. Like the clubhouse, these stables also offer a spectacular view of the island, making them ideal places to set conversation scenes.
Every single Dragon’s Edge building was designed with an amazing level of detail and attention to lighting. There is a beautiful three-story stable with holes to let light through, creating a unique atmosphere unlike any other building on Berk. There is also a giant dragon training arena with a closing dome to contain wild dragons. Trying to fly into the arena before the dome closes becomes a favorite game for the riders.
Dragons, Dragons, Dragons!
We first meet the Death Song in the third episode, where it uses its amber-like goo to trap and eat other dragons. The Death Song is one of the prettiest dragons in the series, and a lot of fun for the designers to work with. It will likely be making appearances in the future.
Alone, these dragons are not very threatening. But together, they form a flock in the shape of another dragon in order to protect themselves. Night Terror posed a technical challenge because DreamWorks’ software crashed for scenes with more than 11 rigged characters. A flock of dragons, however, would require several thousand.
In order to create a flock of Night Terrors, the individual dragons were pre-animated and rendered. Then, these pre-animated dragon spites were used in a particle system consisting of over 7,000 dragons.
The Razorwhip has reflective scales that look unlike any dragon ever seen before. However, this requires special care for each scene to make sure that the world around the dragon looks good from all angles, and not just from the perspective of the camera.
The Catastrophic Quacken is a small dragon that is a member of the Gronckle family. It looks quite a lot like a boulder, and indeed can curl up into a boulder and roll around.
The Snow Wraith is a distance relative to the Night Fury (it was originally called the Snow Fury). Because of this, it shares many of its design elements with the Night Furies and uses its ability to sense heat to stalk its prey.
Every TV show seems to have its Easter eggs. Race to the Edge has the humble potato. Race to the Edge director Elaine Bogan became obsessed with the potato asset and began sticking potatoes wherever possible. Some of these potatoes will be nearly impossible to find. But whenever you see a small, spherical object, you can be pretty sure that it’s another potato.
Help us find all the potatoes at potatoesofberk.tumblr.com!