Caerphilly Dragon unleashed to fire up Wales squad

Wednesday 06 July 2016

Cadw reveals CGI film bringing iconic dragon to life in support of Wales in Semi-Final

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The colossal dragon that broke the banks of Caerphilly Castle in March this year has been brought to life through high-quality CGI animation, in support of the Wales football team ahead of their epic battle against Portugal in today (6 July)’s Euro Semi-Final.  

The film, released by the Welsh Government’s historic environment service (Cadw), also announces the dragon’s seven-week tour across Wales — helping to continue patriotic celebrations well into the summer.

Reminiscent of epic scenes from Game of Thrones and The Hobbit, the 30-second animation was created in partnership with 11 students from the University of South Wales’s’ Computer Animation Course. The stunning film shows the dragon on the move across Wales – complete with its gleaming black and red scales, gigantic wings and the sound of its thunderous roar.

This month, the iconic dragon will make a flying visit to Flint Castle, followed by its final stint in Caerphilly Castle, before landing in Chepstow Castle. Towns in north and west Wales will also be invaded by the mythical beast during August and September, as it turns up at soon-to-be revealed Cadw sites during the second leg of the dragon’s summer tour.

The whopping one tonne dragon, which has been scaring visitors to Caerphilly Castle since it first appeared on St David’s Day, was sculpted and moulded before being built out of fibreglass, by prop design specialists, Wild Creations.

As the sculpture features only the dragon’s head, wings and outreached claw, the students have used 3D programming technology to design and complete the dragon’s entire body (even its skeleton!) before setting it against the backdrop of four iconic Welsh castles.

Dominic Pugh, a postgraduate student from Stafford who co-managed the animation project, said: “The video was created by modelling a 3D dragon from 2D concept art before animating its movements and adding them onto the pre-recorded castle back-drops.

“It was a complicated process that took a team of 11 students three months to create, but we’re delighted with the results.

“To get the opportunity to work on a live brief, creating a film that will be used across TV advertising, is absolutely invaluable career experience.”

The video is the latest addition to Cadw’s catalogue of ambitious video projects – ranging from Lego time-lapse footage to CGI site reconstructions – and forms part of its Historic Adventures summer campaign, which brings visitors never-seen-before experiences at Cadw sites during Visit Wales’s Year of Adventure.

Families can also enjoy various dragon-related activities at more than 30 of Wales’s historic sites this summer, from dragon quest trails to dragon-themed storytelling sessions. Plus, visitors meeting the dragon can access bonus content by opening the Cadw app in-front of the beast’s enormous snout, thanks to the latest iBeacon technology.

Other summer highlights include the return of Cadw’s hugely popular ‘Create with Cadw’ Lego and Minecraft workshops, offering visitors the chance to create 3D Lego dragons at Caerphilly Castle and Caernarfon Castle during July and August. Tickets available here.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, said: “We are always looking at exciting and creative ways of bringing Wales’s historic monuments to life to appeal to a wide range of visitors, and this latest CGI film does just that.

“The reception that the dragon received at Caerphilly Castle was overwhelming – not only having a positive impact on the site, but on the town’s wider economy too. We’re keen to build on this success at numerous towns across Wales this summer.

“Working with these talented students has delivered us a dynamic film that will hopefully capture people’s imaginations and inspire them to visit Cadw sites this summer, while also helping to nurture and support Wales’s creative talent of the future.”    

Visitors will be able to see the dragon by normal site-admission at Flint Castle from 9–10 July, Caerphilly Castle from 19–31 July, Chepstow Castle from 2–14 August, with further locations in north and west Wales to be revealed over the summer.

Visitors to Cadw sites are being encouraged to share their adventurous experiences on social media by using the hashtag #HistoricAdventures.

To find out more about Cadw’s Historic Adventures and to discover where the dragon will next appear, visit http://cadw.gov.wales/fun/historicadventures and to access a full list of summer events, click here.