Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Wins Bronze at AEAF Awards

We are thrilled to announce that REALTIME won Bronze at the AEAF Awards in the games trailer category for our work on the Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands trailer!

A huge thanks to our clients & partners: BOND, Gearbox Entertainment, 2K and a special shoutout to Mathematic Studio for their support.

As well as winning Bronze, we also had two amazing projects named as finalists in the awards: A Discovery of Witches Season 3 (for TV Series) and Sea of Thieves: Forts of the Forgotten (for Games Trailer)

The Watch: Pre-vis & Post-vis explained

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on the VFX work behind BBC America’s latest Terry Pratchett adaptation – ‘The Watch’. In part 1, we covered the initial design process behind the two dragons at the heart of the story. There’s Goodboy, the hand-held dragon with the power of a flamethrower. Then there’s the Noble Dragon, the terrifying, smoky city-razer causing chaos.

In part 2, we’re going to talk about the pre- and post-visualisation work that went into creating the two unique dragons. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!


Previously, we talked about creating a unique look for the Noble Dragon; something audiences had never seen before in a dragon. We decided on a smoky, ethereal design that created an air of mystery and unknown terror about the creature.

Once we had a model, we went on to create tests to show how the FX would look and behave on a basic flying version of the model. The brief we received from director Craig Viveiros was that it should look like plane trailing contrails. He wanted the dragon to have a sinister visual impact and pose a serious threat to the characters. 

We used a basic model of a dragon for our test, with a very simple rig. We draped it in smoke to give an idea of what it would look like in the final series, and the test scene was a simple animation block-out with the dragon breathing fire. This previs ensured that the director and execs could all agree how the dragon would behave and look when it flew, ahead of starting work on shots.

Once we had a test everyone was happy with, we created a fully rigged model of the Noble Dragon model sculpt we had created, which we then put through various flight cycles to show how it moved in the sky. This was part of our team’s internal process for developing the animation for the Noble Dragon. 


Principle photography took place in South Africa, creating the live action plates we needed to incorporate our dragons. The art department created a full-size replica of Goodboy for actress Lara Rossi (Lady Sybil) to hold in shot. He was then replaced in post-production by the CG Goodboy. This was partially to help with her performance, but we also hoped that in wide shots we could use that rather than the CGI model, to reduce costs.

Post-vis was done of all the key CG sequences using a mixture of filmed plates and full CG environments. This allowed for a continuing creative dialogue with the showrunner, director, and producer, as well as Lola VFX who were in charge of creating the cityscapes. 

Alongside this, the look dev of the Noble Dragon was started. There were a number of issues with a huge creature who is made of smoke, fire, and lightning that had to be solved. Legibility being the most important. As she had to work in both day- and night-time situations, a flexible tool set of passes was created to suit all conditions. It allowed for independent control over her eyes, smoky body, internal lightning, fiery throat and belly, as well as a skeletal pass to add definition to her skull and chest for the closer shots.

By doing this, we accomplished what we needed to; we made this dragon distinctly different from anything that’s come before. It takes what people think when they hear the word dragon and turns it on its head.

The same can be said for Goodboy, who presented his own, if somewhat smaller, challenges. While the Noble dragon was all about the big picture, Goodboy is all about detail. From the scarring on his face to the texture of his wings, fine, nuanced animation allowed this character to transition from cute to deadly, beginner to proficient flyer.

In the end, both dragons came away looking different to anything we’ve seen before. And we think both dragons are a great addition to the series . This was a great project for us to flex our creative muscles and deliver something the client could be proud of.

REALTIME’s team of highly creative individuals can take your project to the next level with fantastic ideas and visuals. If you want to find out more, get in touch with me at [email protected].

From concept to completion: Dragons in The Watch

In early 2021, BBC America aired the fantastical new Terry Pratchett adaptation – ‘The Watch’. A fantastical world as rich as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld required some innovative VFX work to bring this adaptation to life, especially the dangerous Noble Dragon that threatens its world and the cute, but fiery, pocket-size dragon Goodboy. 

REALTIME was a key creative partner on the series, creating a range of 2D and 3D VFX, including for the two very different dragons. Uniquely anarchic and thrillingly entertaining, the character-driven drama follows several of Terry Pratchett’s best-loved creations on a riotous and emotional odyssey.

But how did we approach such a task? In part one, we’re going to run through the initial stages as we worked to meet this unique brief. Let’s run through our VFX journey…

A tale of two dragons

This project presented two specific challenges: creating the smaller Goodboy, a dragon who fits in the palm of your hand, and at the other extreme, the colossal Noble Dragon, a creature the size of a jumbo jet, with enough firepower to destroy a city.

From the brief, we had to create something never seen before. With two distinctly different creatures to create, we started with the concept art. It’s at this stage we began to sketch out the look of the dragons, building an idea of how to bring them to life in 3D. In an age of Game of Thrones and other high fantasy, dragons have become part of the zeitgeist. Our goal was to make something brand new that gave the series two unique dragons of its own.

The production team had originally wanted to use a real gecko to ‘act’ the part of Goodboy. The wings and fire breath would just be added in post-production. In practice, this was a very challenging task to accomplish on set, as we saw when we suggested production do a camera test early on. It proved too difficult to work with a real lizard. This meant Goodboy needed to be a full CGI creature, but also work with the budget limitations of the series.

We still wanted to have the feel of a real-life lizard, so drew inspiration from the armadillo lizard. As we would be getting much more up close and personal with this creature, we had to focus on bringing life to it, capturing his personality and character. We visualised a rescue puppy to help us understand the kind of emotional response we wanted Goodboy to elicit from viewers, adding details like his broken wings and scars.

Goodboy might well be the cutest character in the series – just watch him sing – but he also has a dangerous side as a hand-held flamethrower. There’s a lot of personality to Goodboy that had to be brought out through the VFX work. He needed a cheeky personality with an expressive face, but we had to be mindful of budgetary considerations when designing his body and rigging his face. 

In the grand finale of the series, Goodboy takes centre stage to stop the rampage of the Noble Dragon. Without spoiling it for you, it proved a great opportunity to bring some of Goodboy’s personality to the forefront and finish the series with a bit of Pratchett-esque tongue-in-cheek wit. He is quite a young and inexperienced dragon, and we played this up in his attempt to fly. He launches off with a running jump, but his flight is very bumpy as he has to learn as he goes. 

For the Noble Dragon, with its awe-inspiring size, we needed a different approach. To make it feel different to the dragons featured in other popular fantasy series and films, we wanted to give it an ethereal, smoky quality. This meant it would need to go through multiple stages and be highly FX-driven.

When we designed the Noble Dragon, even though its scales wouldn’t be seen by the audience, we still rendered a version with them because we need to know how it looks and operates. 

But we’ll talk about the Noble Dragon in more detail in part 2 when we dive into the pre- and post-vis processes. This is where the two dragons really came to life. Stay tuned for part 2!

REALTIME has a team of highly creative individuals who can elevate your project with fantastic ideas and visuals. If you would like to find out more, get in touch with me at [email protected].