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The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour

The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour

I don’t actually know what happens at the end of the Harry Potter movies.

I assume He Who Shall Not Be Named gets thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon, some minor characters die, and Ron and Hermione get together. I just couldn’t stomach the money-grabbing double feature move, and it was all a bit heavy and long, so I didn’t bother with the last movie.

What I did love about the franchise was the whimsy, the discovery, the childlike glee and FUN you had watching the first one/s. A fantastic blend of escape from reality, child detective mystery, and literal movie magic. When I learned of this Making of Harry Potter tour, I had to weigh it up, and I decided they couldn’t really put too much brooding apocalyptic shit from the later movies in there, so it’d be pretty cool. I love film sets, I love the temporary nature of them, and the ‘make do’ kinda dodgy shit that goes on just behind that coating of plaster. And with films like Harry Potter where it’s a whole new world they’re creating, they bring the best creatives and craftspeople from so many industries together to work on a larger whole – really it’s pretty cool.

So I jumped on the train and took a look!

Definitely fork out the extra £5 for the digital tour thing. Totally worth it, you can play the accompanying videos whenever you feel like it and there’s so much more on offer through it, those suckers without them were just that.

It’s just an ipod touch. Yet another cool diversification of my type of work I should get into!

Below are just a selection of some of the cool stuff in there. Really half the coolness was the interviews on the ipod, little stories about the details of the movie making business on such a scale. For instance, education – they had a cast of like 100 kids 10-12 years old, and by law they had to deliver so many hours of schooling each day. The logistics involved in getting that done around the regular logistics of running such a huge film crew – the realities are just pretty mind blowing. I would have killed a project manager to see those project plans and timetables – I bet they were works of art in their own right!

Flame retarded. 

You couldn’t really tell the Great Hall apart from other old buildings around here, aside from the lack of roof. The arches are ornate, the pillars are of the community, the glass is stained. What set it apart was the lack of religious symbols – they had gargoyles of the houses of Hogwarts, rather than those of Christianity.

The great hall. 
Forced perspective – manual movie magic! The box is about 1.5metres long.
Gryffindor common room. The oil paintings were done brand new, the subjects are mostly cast members. The tapestries are custom and aged like the upholstery, it’s all just an incredible level of detail when you have the time to study it. 
This was cool, armor for a orge or something. Haha I wrote orgy, that’d be a big night
Green screen samples. They were doing green screen broomstick riding, but I can never be bothered queuing for things.
Need more of these buses in London. Though they had to be very careful about getting it around the city due to its height!

So that stuff is stuff that’s in the movies. It’s pretty interesting to have a look, and there’re some great videos and narratives about everything, but the stuff that was the most interesting to me was the stuff you don’t see, or didn’t really notice, when watching the films.

This is how they did some of the werewolf work with Lupin. I heard they did similar with JaJa Binx in star wars, but his head was just a mask so the actors could visually glare in the right direction. Here, they’ve actually got an anamatronic head on top of a guy. So cool! They did the same with the half giant Hagrid, got some massive rugby player to wear an animatronic head of Robbie Coltrane.

Fuck you! I’m an … um.

They had a few of the blank models they scan for the CGI and making moulds and things, pretty neat to see the blanks up close. I also thought the concept art they displayed was pretty badass, and the techincal drawings were just aces.

Near the end of the tour you get to walk along Diagon Alley, which is interesting – again, such detail into the buildings and things, BIG MONEY.

This is a card model of diagon alley. I thought these were pretty choice.
Perpetual vomit, kids’d just lose their nut over this stuff

With the above, that’s kinda what I mean about the other creative industries. All these graphic designers had to do every piece of packaging on everything, get it all printed up and aged, and you don’t even really notice it during the film. Quite a few cute wee jokes and puns in the packaging when you’ve got the time to look at it.

And finally you see the giant model of Hogwarts used for flying shots and the like. Pretty crazy, guess there won’t be the likes of this so much any more. That was one of the running themes in the narratives – what they did in 2001 in the first film was just garbage compared with the effects and techniques they’d developed by the 8th film – fire effects, better green screening, I guess crowd CGI, all that kind of good stuff came into being while these were being produced.

9 and 3 quarters out of 10.

Larry's a 30-something chap interested in travel, being a dork and changing the world via less boring training.

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