Harry Potter is popular, do doubt about it. But the enchantment of the movies was deliberately developed in incredible detail, with stunning animations, and through unbelievable imagination.
So much was built, embellished, rebuilt, altered, and done again. The drawings that were done (and redone) to start it off were incredible on their own. The tiny models were stunning and detailed. The real life models, characters, figures, masks, and more that came out of it all were unbelievable.
Hogwarts, even at model size, is incredible and detailed. The mountain, the trees, the towers, buildings as well as the water lapping at its feet, all were part of the model. It’s amazing to think that so many of the shots of the castle were really this 30ish foot tall model. The technical use of green and blue screens behind so many scenes allowed a small model to transform into quidditch matches, magical battles, and majestic castles.
The Great Hall was made as a permanent prop since it was a focal point for so many scenes. Candles did float (thanks to fishing line) but the ceiling was totally digitally created after scenes were shot, whether it was clouds, snow falling, fireworks, or battles. The walls had included a couple of murals, wizardly type things, but unfortunately, with the lights of filming, none showed in the movies.
I never really realized the actual placement and configuration of Dumbledore’s office. The triple towers jutting off the side of the main tower lent itself to the triple rise rooms for his office. Walking through the set was fabulous, checking out paintings (all the wizards were sleeping, eyes closed, though I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen one move), the incredible wizardly tools and the books. The tools were a conglomerate of normal things, glued or welded together, painted gold. The imagination was incredible.
I loved the fact that the crewhat did all the hard work, the details, the ingenuity were included in various ways in the films. The names of the workers are on the wands in Olivander’s wand shop. The portraits hanging on the walls were actual oils done of the various workers and quite a few of them were part of the moving scenes.
They even used the workers in the Ministry of Magic to make the halls seem full with wizards coming in for work. Anyone not actually filming donned a hat and costume and walked right through.
Then, of course there’s Diagon Alley, a construct with full size and miniature models with fronts of the store as well as the internal construct as a set. The Knight bus that Harry rode was actually multiple buses – one that actually drove, and one that all the inside scenes were shot from – the skinny bus was, of course, all digital.
The animatronics were phenomenal – Buckbeak regally bowed to us, watching for our bow (of course). The work that went into each and every animal and creature, down to perfect feathers that fit together fluidly. The incredible machinery required for Aragog and the other spiders, the masks created and even the work to create Hagrid! The man was over 6’ tall, wore thick-soled boots and the face was a mask, a mask that he could control all of the movements.
Now to reread books and watch the videos…again!