I am a very big fan of Harry Potter series and you definitely cannot underestamate the contribution of the series to the whole film industry. That is why I was so exited to actuall finally get there and see the actuall sets and props.
The very good examples for what we actually are diong on this course were those amazingly detailed white card models. After doing last year’s Transforming the Location project and making the colour model which I relaly liked doing I thought that it is a pity that we won’t be doing that anymore but those white card models chaned my mind completely. I really liked how architectual those models were and how perfect the level of details was.
The actual usage of the models on the film is incredible. Taking to the account that the first movie was relised in 2001 and how much of the technology was avaliable that time the models were the cheepest and the best way to create the magical athmosphere. The really interesting ones are the ones where you’d have to play with the perspective. The ceiling for the Great Hall for example as it was a scaled model that was placed in the specific places to get the right perspective. The other absolutely amazing model is actual Hogwarts. The whole castle which was filmed for the establising shots. That set is absolutely amazing and I really felt like I was in heaven when I saw that one, not even kidding. The thing is that it can also change from day to night with the LEDs inside the tiny windows and the castle can literally transform.
We also had a couple of questions to answer about the set and how you could cheat to make the whole thing more realistic and beliavable. One of those questions was about the windows and how the problem with transparency was solved, what’s behind and how you would create perspective view from the window. The thing is that most of the windows (especially in the castle itself) are not transparent as the glass is frosted so there would be no need for the painted backgrounds andstuff like that.
In other cases when the view from the window is not so easily covered, like in Wisley’s house there is an actual painted backdrop there stating the field around the house.
The actual real-life sets are really good as expected but the lighting wasn’t very good overall. I know that it’s not there to film anymore but I would expect more realism in it. That was the problem and the reason why most of my photos turn out to be blury in the end.
I can’t vene say which sets I like the most at the exhibition. The Dambledore office set which is, by the way, Stuwart Crage’s favourite set within all the Harry Potter production was really detailed and I noticed some detailes like the portraits I’ve never noticed in rthe films. The thing is that some of the portraits do actually exhist in reality and they all quite famous. The one I noticed first was the portrait of Tsar Ivan The Terrible who I know quite well as I am russian. And then I’ve started looking closer and here they were – so many of them I know on the walls. Good to the the references in someone’s really famous work.
The other interesting reference that I saw for the first time at the exhibition was the idea behind The Ministry of Magic sets – the tiles and how it all comes from the old London undeground stations decorations. I defifnitely see it now but it looked so organic in the films when I watched them so I’ve never even questioned that.
Even if we are not the special effects people and we don’t have to think about animatronics and make up that part of the exhibition was absolutely awesome to see at least in terms of realism. The best thing that can be done in the film as I think of it is the perfect combination and balance between the CGI and real things when it comes to pretty much everything. This is what I believe creates the most realistic athmosphere.
The graphic design is definitely worth mentioning here. The Graphic department definitely did a very good job with graphics being very big part of the movie with all the News Papers explaining what’s happening and the specific sweets and 9 3/4 platform train tickets and magic books… to much to make a list to be honest. I don’t know that much about graphic design though and it seems to me almost invisible in all the other movies but this gigantic production series. Good job, people, good job!
Just some example of the forced prspective of the set that I, to my great shame, don’t even remember in the movie.
And some more excuisite set dressings and designs from the movie series.