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Toothless is actually the first character to be seen in the movie. His silhouette is seen flying through the star-filled background during the DreamWorks intro.
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In the book, Toothless is a little iguana sized dragon much like the Terrible Terror. The directors changed this as they wanted a dragon Hiccup would be able to climb on to and that would have a design helping it emote better.
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The sounds Toothless produces along with his behavior and personality were inspired by cats, dogs, and horses.
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Toothless’s design resembles Stitch’s from the Lilo and Stitch movie. This can be attributed to the fact that both directors for HTTYD also directed Lilo and Stitch.
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At one time, one of Toothless’s animator stuck a ball of duct-tape on his own cat’s tail for reference which ended up perfect for this shot. (actual footage of his cat he used)
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Animators had to attend “flight school” during production. It is a legitimate program in which they would study flight physics and movements of different creatures for realism. After graduation, they each even received a diploma.
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Throughout the film, Hiccup vehemently declares he can’t kill dragons while the other Vikings boast about all the dragons they’ve killed. Ironically, Hiccup is the only Viking we actually see kill a dragon in the whole movie.
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HTTYD features lots for beards and fur. Not only are beards tough to rig but designing them is also tricky. Stoick’s beard alone took months to make.
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The sounds the Terrible Terrors make are actually based upon a Chihuahua named Paco from Cottage Grove, Oregon. A sound designer at Skywalker Sound, contacted his owners after seeing a video of Paco on the internet. Paco was paid 100$ for his voice work.
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John Powell’s amazing score for the movie was nominated for an Academy Award. The song “Romantic Flight” was actually played during this year’s Oscars, introducing Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel on the stage to present the Best Original Score category. Links to the OST can be found at this post’s 20th image.
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In their efforts at giving HTTYD a more epic and cinematic feel, the filmmakers turned to eight-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins (Skyfall, Prisoners, The Shawshank Redemption) to help with the movie’s visuals.
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One of the focus groups used to preview the film was so moved by the ending scene, they insisted the directors keep their decision to make Hiccup an amputee as they connected with it and though it was daring. A kid among the group said “It was sad because Hiccup lost something but then he gained so much more”.
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Astrid’s character isn’t in the original book. She was created especially for the movie.
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Dragons had their own language in the original books. Early on, the team decided they should only communicate physically so they’d feel more animal-like.
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The eye opening as Toothless’s wing passes by was an accident in the animation process. The filmmakers kept it because it looked creepy and very fitting.
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When Hiccup reads the Dragon Manual, the writings in it are actually in plain English cryptographed into runes.
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Every time a dragon is about to spit fire, you can see it gather gas in its maw. The only exception is the Zippleback which uses one head to release gas and the other one to spark it aflame.
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Before Toothless brings Hiccup and Astrid to the dragon’s nest, we get several shots of other dragons. Pay attention to one shot of a Monstrous Nightmare; it can be seen holding Gloria, the hippo from Madagascar. (Confirmed on the DVD’s commentary)
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When it came out in theaters, HTTYD was praised for its use of 3D during the flying sequences which some people claim was on par with or better than Avatar’s which came out around the same time.
20 / 20 You made it! Here’s a gif I made for you.