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The Anti-Targ

[Un]Offical Casting Thread: The North; Direwolves

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I think the direwolves will probably be CGId (or Claymationed like the Gar in another series that shall remain nameless). But it would be really cool if they used an actual breed of dog for these vital elements of the story.

So wat is your preferred breed for the Direwolves, if they were to use real animals for the parts?

I think there isn't a single breed that fits the bill.

The Irish wolfhound is clearly a leading contender as it is the tallest breed, with a the sort of long hair you need for a Direwolf. But it is a little lean. Therefore I would look to a specific crossbreed with another of the giant breeds with a bit more of a solid build. One of the shaggier varieties of Mastiff for instance.

So my starter for 10 is an [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Wolfhound"]Irish Wolfhound[/url] X [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_Shepherd_Dog"]Caucasian Shepherd Dog[/url].

This crossbred dog will be heavy enough and tall enough to carry off the role I think. The real life wolf can get up to the same size and weight of the Irish Wolfhound, but it would be easy enough to find diminutive examples of the wolf (and wolf-like breeds) to give the size contrast.

Personally I'd like to see a real animal being used for the more intimate moments between them and the Stark kids. But it is hardly pivotal stuff.

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Hmm, for the parts of the direwolves, I'd pick ...

Ghost - [url="http://www.absoluteanime.com/wolfs_rain/kiba2.jpg"]Kiba[/url]

Grey Wind - [url="http://dragonjade.free.fr/rakuen/tsume/tsume04.jpg"]Tsume[/url]

Lady - [url="http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/3429/jenna31xl7.jpg"]Jenna[/url]

Summer - [url="http://baltosource.timduru.org/img/users/4983/balto%2023.jpg"]Balto[/url]

Shaggydog - [url="http://greenhunter.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/gmork.jpg"]G'mork[/url]

Nymeria - One of the [url="http://img237.imageshack.us/img237/9769/inuzukaep121et3.jpg"]Haimaru Sankyodai[/url] (the one on the far right!)

Sure, a couple could dye their hair, while others could use contacts to get a different eye color, but I think they could pull it off. They'll have to be a little enhanced in size, too.

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Any way you go about it, you'll be dealing with dogs that are too small to pass for direwolves, and the largest breeds of dog look very little like a wolf. A combination of CGI, large wolf-hybrids (with Malamute, Great Pyreneese, Akitas, etc. who retain a wolfish look, at least from a distance.) and trained wolves made larger via compositing trickery. Once into the later books though, with the wolves being waist high on a man at the least, even the largest wolf hybrids are going to fail as 'stunt doubles'.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594491' date='Nov 20 2008, 11.12']Once into the later books though, with the wolves being waist high on a man at the least, even the largest wolf hybrids are going to fail as 'stunt doubles'.[/quote]

Top of the range Irish Wolfhounds are waist high on a 6ft tall person.

If you can make Tom Cruise look like a guy of average / above average height, you can do it with a real dog.

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But Irish Wolfhounds don't look anything like a Direwolf, and most animals don't take kindly to 3 hour makeup sessions.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594541' date='Nov 19 2008, 17.56']But Irish Wolfhounds don't look anything like a Direwolf, and most animals don't take kindly to 3 hour makeup sessions.[/quote]

this. the direwolves are Princess Mononoke size its gonna be tough, expensive cgi or awesome puppets or something.

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I'd love to see them make use of some puppets. Puppetry is highly under-rated in these CGI-dominated days, and it gets even better if you fuse the two.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594689' date='Nov 19 2008, 19.38']I'd love to see them make use of some puppets. Puppetry is highly under-rated in these CGI-dominated days, and [b]it gets even better if you fuse the two.[/b][/quote]

I like that idea. To be honest, the animal CGI in [i]The Golden Compass[/i] wasn't half bad.

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Puppets with CGI enhancements used for closeups, with CGI and Stand-ins/composite-magic wolves for distance shots seems the best option to me. AT some point we should see them in comparison with some Wolfhounds or mastiffs to show just how big they are.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594541' date='Nov 20 2008, 11.56']But Irish Wolfhounds don't look anything like a Direwolf, and most animals don't take kindly to 3 hour makeup sessions.

...

I'd love to see them make use of some puppets. Puppetry is highly under-rated in these CGI-dominated days, and it gets even better if you fuse the two.[/quote]

[quote name='feyrband' post='1594612' date='Nov 20 2008, 13.06']this. the direwolves are Princess Mononoke size its gonna be tough, expensive cgi or awesome puppets or something.[/quote]

Which is why I suggested cross-breeding to get a better look. Going for a purpose-bred cross also means you can use the animals right from the puppy stage. And the breeders can make mega-bucks from selling those crosses to fans of the series. I betcha more than a few of the people on this board would love to have their very own direwolf!

Besides I've never seen a Direwolf in real life, only in my imagination. And in my warped imagination they weren't particularly wolf-like in their features (broader muzzles, thicker of limb, and more of a sloping hind quarter). They weren't particularly Wolfhound like either of course, other than the shaggyness of their coat; again the whole purpose-bred cross thinking. Even a 3-breed cross might be needed to do the trick.

I dig the puppetry idea, it can be used to very good effect.

If you can get the right phenotypic look through breeding, you can use real life dogs for pretty much the entire first season, the only make-up necessary would be the coat colouring.

Any way you do it: real dogs, Puppets, CGI, etc etc, if you want to avoid the series looking seriously cheap and cheesey the direwolves shouldn't be an afterthought, nor should they be done on a low budget. After Bran and Arya I think the Direwolves are the most beloved Starks in the series.

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Well they're pretty young through the first book since they're still growing even in the third. Dogs by definition have more puppy-like features since that is the most obvious secondary result of selective breeding for docility. Get a large wolf hybrid for example and it should be just about right for the majority of the first season.

Crossbreeding isn't an exact science though, so it is very hard to breed a few litters of puppies specifically for this series as you suggest. You may need a dozen litters before you get enough suitable pups that are able to be trained to the extent that they will need to be. It just seems like a lot of hassle for not much gain.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594788' date='Nov 19 2008, 22.49']Well they're pretty young through the first book since they're still growing even in the third. Dogs by definition have more puppy-like features since that is the most obvious secondary result of selective breeding for docility. Get a large wolf hybrid for example and it should be just about right for the majority of the first season.

Crossbreeding isn't an exact science though, so it is very hard to breed a few litters of puppies specifically for this series as you suggest. You may need a dozen litters before you get enough suitable pups that are able to be trained to the extent that they will need to be. It just seems like a lot of hassle for not much gain.[/quote]


i was looking at wolf sites but they really just arent that big. they are [i]dire[/i] wolves for a reason, regular wolves and especially half-breeds don't compare. you'd have a to cross an irish wolf-hound with a grizzly bear.

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The largest wolves are about 150lbs and come up to a man's thigh.

There are some dogs that can reach a man's waist and be 8 feet long.

A hybrid is going to favor the latter more than likely, but may not look much like a wolf anymore.

This is why I'm saying CGI, compositing effects and puppetry should all be used in combination for more convincing results.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1594879' date='Nov 20 2008, 00.59']The largest wolves are about 150lbs and come up to a man's thigh.

There are some dogs that can reach a man's waist and be 8 feet long.

A hybrid is going to favor the latter more than likely, but may not look much like a wolf anymore.

This is why I'm saying CGI, compositing effects and puppetry should all be used in combination for more convincing results.[/quote]

yup, cgi for far away, puppet for mid-close range and cgi to perfect facial features.

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They'll probably do a combination of low-tech special effects/camera tricks (ala the Hobbit) and occasional CGI for the wider shots.

When you watch Lord of the Rings, it's really surprising who few establishing shots there are, in terms of showing height differences. As long as they work up an occasional shot with the wolf being next to a man, it'll "remind" the audience of their size. Most shots can be or the direwolves prowling around off to the side, or close ups of Rob with his hand on his wolf's head (who can be standing on an unseen platform).

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[quote name='Myrddin' post='1595167' date='Nov 20 2008, 10.15']Most shots can be or the direwolves prowling around off to the side, or close ups of Rob with his hand on his wolf's head (who can be standing on an unseen platform).[/quote]

The issue with this is that the Direwolves are big all over - it would take some considerable manipulation to make a normal wolf look that big if someone is touching them within view of the camera, the porpotions would be off.


Cross breeding to get a specific look is a crap-shoot - and you're never guaranteed that the results you want will be stable enough to persist. Imagine if one of the star animals is injured or killed? the chances of you getting a duplicate in coloring, size, attitude are extremely slim.
You're also depending on a semi-wild animal to not flip out during filming - wolf hybrids need special care and handling to make them safer.
Though I agree that [url="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/62406902/"]these[/url] [url="http://www.flickr.com/photos/maartenb/56382140/"]faces[/url] makes it hard to argue against real fluffy critters.


CGI and Puppetry, though likely higher in production costs, would ensure consistency in performance and look.
Possibly use real wolves/hybrids for long running shots, but once you get in close enough for interaction/scaling - switch to the CGI or puppet.


At any rate - the Direwolves are a critical part of the series, if they're not done right - it could be a major blow to viewership.

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It just dawned on me that the beast from Brotherhood of the Wolf is the right size to a full grown direwolf.

That was a mix of CGI and puppet.

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[quote name='The Anti-Targ' post='1594425' date='Nov 19 2008, 14.11']The Irish wolfhound is clearly a leading contender as it is the tallest breed, with a the sort of long hair you need for a Direwolf. But it is a little lean. Therefore I would look to a specific crossbreed with another of the giant breeds with a bit more of a solid build. One of the shaggier varieties of Mastiff for instance.

So my starter for 10 is an [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Wolfhound"]Irish Wolfhound[/url] X [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_Shepherd_Dog"]Caucasian Shepherd Dog[/url].

This crossbred dog will be heavy enough and tall enough to carry off the role I think. The real life wolf can get up to the same size and weight of the Irish Wolfhound, but it would be easy enough to find diminutive examples of the wolf (and wolf-like breeds) to give the size contrast.

Personally I'd like to see a real animal being used for the more intimate moments between them and the Stark kids. But it is hardly pivotal stuff.[/quote]

I really like this idea. And I think a lot of peoples' arguments against it can be solved by professionals handling the breeding and training. My ideal mix would be 2 parts Irish wolfhound to 1 part Malamute to 1 part Great Dane. The Great Dane would add a lot of height, plus it's good-tempered which will make it better for working with child-actors. The Malamute I think is essential to give it more of a wolfish look. Actually, I might even lean towards 2 parts Malamute and 1 part wolfhound depending on how big the dogs end up being. Just make sure to start with dogs that are above-average in height and I don't think there will be a smallness problem. I read somewhere that the tallest dog ever recorded was an Irish Wolfhound that was 5 feet tall!

The biggest downside to this is there probaby just isn't enough time, unless they started the breeding yesterday. However, I'd have no concerns about the wildness or trainability of the animals. I do think it would be better for children, who are notorious for bad acting, to interact with real animals as opposed to imaginary CGI ones. I think too that based on the Chronicles of Narnia wolves, we've seen how bad CGI wolves can come out.

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How did they do the daemons in the Golden Compass? Whatever it was, that's what should be used for the direwolves.

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