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Research Project: The SET DESIGN OF THE HARRY POTTER FILMS A
Transcript of Research Project: The SET DESIGN OF THE HARRY POTTER FILMS A
Hogwarts in HARRY POTTER AND THE Deathly Hallows Part 2
As technology progressed, so did Hogwarts and a digital model was built.
This was a great advantage as due to new introductions of settings in the books that were coming out, they could digitally incorporate them onto the model.
Set Design in Harry Potter
All the Harry Potter films had Production Designer Stuart Craig working on them, who is known also for his work on
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
The English Patient (1996)
The Elephant Man (1980)
and was awarded Academy Awards for each.
An Investigation into the set design of Harry Potter films and how this has progressed through the development of technology
"For the first six Harry Potter movies big exterior shots of Hogwarts Castle sitting in its landscape were actually shots of a miniature made by craftsmen; a huge miniature that occupied a big sound stage. For the seventh and eighth films, it was decided that we would be better off embracing the latest technology.
So the set was scanned, and the scan was used to construct a new digital model. When the model was rendered with different textures, it was extraordinary.
The detail was astounding, and made it possible to move much, closer to the digital model than to the physical one. To my great surprise, I must say, as I’d have thought it would be the other way round." - Stuart Craig
"we were obliged to use existing locations quite a lot because we didn’t have the time or the money to build the entire world. When we then would cut to a big exterior of Hogwarts those real places
Gloucester Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Christ Church College at Oxford
all had to sort of be incorporated into the complex which was Hogwarts School"
ART INSIGHT MAGAZINE
INTERVIEW WITH STUART CRAIG, ARE JUST TWO EXAMPLES OF ALL THE THE ARCHITECTURE AND ART AND DESIGN MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS THERE WERE IN RESEARCHING FOR THIS BECAUSE OF THE DEPTHS OF DESIGN IN SETS SUCH AS HOGWARTS
Stuart Craig had started by drawing sketches that incorporated elements from all of these and then would pass them on to concept art designers such as
Andrew Williamson and Dermot Power.
Stuart Craig and the directors would look at the paper card model of Hogwarts to determine the camera angles they would need - they inserted a tiny camera called a lipstick camera into the model to get a perfect point of view.
Model makers installed more than 300 fiber optic lights, which simulate lanterns and torches - creating the illusion of hallways.
"We used a third-scale viaduct for the sequence with the giants. We scaled the architecture they were running on to make the actors look taller. But we didn’t use miniatures to recreate Hogwarts."
- Tim Burke
battle of hogwarts scene where this is shown - from
Source: Behind the Magic, How the digital model was made @9:10
In summary, Hogwarts based on the model, was made digitally in a year. There were 4/5 week shoots filming the shots before, but now that it was digital they could travel through it with the camera. They scanned the model, photographed the textures, looked at real architectural details of real castles, and spent the year applying them on the computer so that the resolution would remain intact on screen and blend seamlessly with the set scenes.
Tim Burke (visual effects supervisor) constructed interiors so that you could see through the windows, and combine real sets with digital shots.
I had to search through a combination of sources to find this out from different perspectives as they all offered them - an art view, a technical view and an audiences view that i started with myself.
As filming for Order of the Phoenix had ended, JK Rowling had published Half Blood Prince, which presented Hogwarts with the addition of the Astronomy Tower, the key setting from which Dumbledore dies. Stuart Craig made the above comment in the filmmaking book, but I found interviews and articles that described the progress in adding this set to the castle that hadn't been there before.
SCENE FROM FILM: The Astronomy Tower, Dumbledore Dies
This is one of the examples I was searching for in how the films as adaptations had to take into account additions of sets from the books.
"During production it took the crew more than three months to build the set, while the graphic designers and prop team spent six months creating more than 20,000 different items and packages which appear on the shops’ shelves. " - Source: http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/en/news-updates/google-maps
Once again the book,
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
, created another set addition - this time for diagon alley of the set for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes - a Wizard Joke Shop. When visiting it, I discovered that it was made to look like shops in the 18th century, and that the shop front took 3 months to build - most of that time was spent constructing the 20 foot mannequin above the main entrance.
source: DVD Special features
This I think really shows the detail undertaken in the set design of these films and was a valuable guide to how props were made and how long it took to make them - as well as the technical mention at the end - that they are digitally manipulated into what we see in the scene with special effects.
WIZARDING BANK THROUGH THE YEARS
deathly hallows part 2
westminster abbey roof ^
source of image from studio: http://www.businessinsider.com/28-things-you-never-knew-about-how-harry-potter-movies-were-made-2013-5?op=1&IR=T
scene of comparision:
Christ Church great hall¬
Making the floating lights:
In the early films the floating lights were hung from a wire that was digitally removed, but the heat from the flames made a lot of the candles melt the wire and drop - so in the later films these candles are digitally created.
How are sets in Harry Potter adaptions designed?
Did the books that came out during production influence the sets or change them in any way?
Since the Harry Potter films were made within 10 years (2001-2011), how did the progression of technology change the way in which sets were designed?
I will explore these questions in my presentation in relation to these three films from the franchise:
"Rather than invent something that was whimsical or bizarre, the design is always an exaggeration of something identifiable. The magic, when it does appear, is all the stronger because it is born out of something that is recognizable" -
Production Designer, Stuart Craig.
This is the thinking behind most of the Harry Potter sets - Craig worked with the intention that aspects of the magical world were to be seen as something of a parody of our own with a magical touch.
I found this to be the case in the book,
Harry Potter Page to Screen the Complete Filmmaking Journey
by Bob McGabe, where Craig is continuously turned to for commentry on the films' way of communicating macro elements through the micro elements of mise en scene in the film - from Concept Art to Location Hunting and influences as well as the incredible amount of detail behind the props. And then I visited the real thing at Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour to see all the planning that went into these incredible sets.
Concept art for hogwarts as it is seen in the first films
In an interview stuart craig revealed that j k rowling provided a map of hogwarts that he followed, and was used for the model.
both taken from the filmmaking journey book,
HOGWARTS IN HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE
"THE WAY TO GO WOULD HAVE BEEN TO BE ABLE TO READ ALL SEVEN FROM THE START" SC
Because of the pivotal scene that takes place there, Craig said the set "needed to be impressive"
"The structure is three overlapping cylindrical spaces. Its appropriate for an Astronomy Tower to have everything based on circles".
The set was filled with mirrors, spheres and scientific instruments as well as a giant telescope.
After coming across this information in the book, I researched further looking into architecture magazine interviews with him that would show the planning hes used for this set .
These are the drawings I found by Stuart Craig, which would lead on to the concept art by Andrew Williams and then go to the craftsmen, who turn them into physical sets and props.
I also had to look into special effects magazines to find out more detail on how sets were constructed.
DIAGON ALLEY IN HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE
the set itself took three months to make
the sources show the process of prop finding - form flea markets and antique shops in London that were duplicated and the other props were invented by the designers.
I think the sources - especially the map - show the amount of detail involved to give it its magical Dickensian stylistic features. This was a good grounding to see how it evolved when technology became involved.
DIAGON ALLEY IN HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE
There were over 1500 special effects in this film.
Reading up on the set, I discovered that due to the change in mood in Half Blood Prince (the death eaters have escaped and recruiting for the murder of Dumbledore), Diagon Alley didn't just have to feature ruined buildings, but was stripped of most of the bright colours it had before to contrast with how the set was seen in earlier films.
The other shops have a "harmony of light and shape" as Stuart Craig says, but the Weasleys shop appears "brash and bright orange"
I found out that it was inspired by japanese toys from the 70s and the orange colour is a connotation of it being a family business as the weasleys all have red hair.
DIAGON ALLEY IN HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Technology became a way of giving greater depth to the existing sets and i think the contrast between the first film's gringotts and the last where its destroyed and so is diagon alley as they leave, shows not only a technological advancement, but an advanced experience of film - is somehow feels more real when its all digitally constructed, and this is because of the detail in which it is constructed.
THE GREAT HALL IN THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
THE MOVING STAIRCASE IN DEATHLY HALLOWS
PART 2 AND THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE
after exploring these sets
and the technological advancement within them, I think reflecting back on Stuart Craigs comment that they were "stronger because they were born out of something familiar and recognizable" - takes on a deeper meaning because you can see the depth of detail that lies behind every scene in these films.
I think the research itself that I've been looking to - particularly where its from - for instance the arts and design magazines to the technology focused websites and critics books - shows that there are many different layers to the sets of these films and different skills were applied and are appreciated of them. Since visiting the sets, and learning about the hundreds of people that worked on them - its clear how everything they made was carefully planned and detailed by experts and you can't help but be in awe if it all. There is also an acknowledged progression that took place within these sets through technology that I think stands as a unique reflection for the progression in this field for the British film industry itself.
From small scale models to completely digital sets, the transformation between the first film and even just the fifth, portrays a clear progression in film technology - which is not only shown in how they're filmed (Director Yates' comment on being able to 'fly the camera' through Hogwarts), but how these sets are actually used (such as the staircase - originally just a miniature, now used to hold an entire battle) - heightening the experience of the films and really bringing a sense of wonder to Craigs use of familiarity. Everything appears to be a magical parody of our world, and its the progression in technology that achieves this.
86 artists and crewmembers built the first Hogwarts.
After visiting the set I learned that Diagon Alley constantly changed throughout the series. Since its construction, walls were moved, shops were switched and whole buildings were tweaked to be leaning slightly - to create the street seen in the films.
Scaffolding was clearly visible.
The celings wooden beams and swirling clouds and floating candles were computer generated.
The Great Hall is one of the best examples of how Stuart Craig's concept of familiarity in the magical world was achieved, considering its likeness to such well known British architecture.
From visiting the set itself, I discovered that Craig asked for the a real stone floor which proved necessary as the set was used in nearly all the films (except
part 1) - and remains as part of the studio tour. I also learned that the murals were hand painted and left to age from the studio lighting.
This is just one example of the sets adopting a more sophisticated structure as a result of the more sophisticated technology available.
The floating lights are a key part of the great hall set as they are what distinguishes it from its non-magical influences, like Westminster Abbey.
They are also a key feature in the books that the films as adaptations have portrayed the significance of as they are one of the first aspects of Hogwarts to fascinate Harry - which I think may be why they are always featured in the frame for shots of the set, and why the first scene they're ever featured in in Philosophers Stone is a gradual tilt from a high angle to highlight them to the audience.
This is an example of how more sophisticated technology allowed for filming flexibility. The way in which the tiny model of the staircase is used to create the illusion of it moving in the film, is similar to the filming process of Hogwarts castle when it was just a model - and it too had a CG counterpart.
What is most interesting about this is how the CG aspect allowed for the edits to be constantly changing with what was in reality a static piece of set.
Technology is seen here to transform the way Harry Potter was filmed - from lipstick cameras in models to an entire CG platform.
WARNER BROTHERS STUDIO TOUR
In 2000, Leavesden Studios became home to the
series film production for over a decade, and maintains today the globally recognized sets that featured in the films over the years - including the planning and visual guide of the processes undertaken in making the incredibly detailed and equally successful
Visiting the Warner Brothers studio tour, thought me all about the technology involved and the enormous amount of planning involved in the craftsmanship of these films.
The sets themselves remain set up as they appear to be in the films, and alongside every set on display is the scene that set is featured in - and this was very interesting to watch as the set transformed on screen with the added special effects. Each set had incredible detail - the opening of the tour involves walking through the gold doors into the great hall as the characters do in the film, which is one of the sets I explore in my presentation, and I got to see up close details of the set I didn't even know about as they are just part of it, and not drawn attention to in the films - and that is the depth of design in these sets that makes them so fascinating.
The great hall has for instance, four torch holders that are each a carving of the animals representing the four school houses, and the house point counter which is rarely shown in the series contains thousands of glass beads.
The green screen section was equally impressive, and compared to some of the early sets from the first films it portrayed a progression in technology that I will explore further in my presentation.
One of the best parts of my visit was the walk to the massive Hogwarts model that is through Stuart Craigs set up - his desk and all his drawings of set design were on display with models and concept art following, and then the digital process added to them to make the sets come to life - this was amazing to see for my research as it was a guide of where these sets came from, and following every step taken in film production that makes them appear as they do in the films.