So in my Harry Potter surfing, I came upon this article titled: 28 Incredible Things You Never Knew About How the ‘Harry Potter’ Movies Were Made. It’s obviously click-bait, but I was a little triggered. Because things I don’t know about the movies? We’ll see about that!
Though the introduction is quite interesting. Basically, a few journalists went to the Warner Brothers studios. They visited the Animal, Creatures, Visual and Special Effects departments and “learned all the secrets”. You know, they got an introduction into Harry Potter behind the scenes. And then they wrote an article about what they learned.
- Originally, the floating candles in the great hall were real, but the heat and dropping candle wax caused so many problems they were removed and inserted digitally. KNEW THAT
- During the dinner feast in the fourth film, some of the desserts on the table were actual food and the cast ate them. KNEW THAT also that it used to be real food quite often. But because the cast (and especially Rupert) kept eating too much, they replaced it with fake food.
- The Gryffindor dorm room changed quite a bit over the years, except for the actual beds. And since they were made to the size of 12-year-olds, they were too small by the last movie. So they would need to curl up so their legs wouldn’t hang off while filming. DIDN’T KNOW THAT, one point for you, journalist!
- The office of Dumbledore was stocked with phone books bound in leather and 48 portraits of the previous headmasters. The memory cabinet was also decorated with real tiny vials. KNEW THAT
- Snape’s classroom kept getting bigger in every movie and all the bottles that lined the walls were filled by all kinds of random things like leftovers from local butchers. KNEW THAT (well, except for the butchers’ thing specifically)
- To make Hagrid look big enough, they had two sets of his house made: a big one for Harry and consorts to look small in and a small one to make Hagrid look huge. KNEW THAT
- The teams also made a mask for Hagrid’s character to be worn by the 6’10 double actor that they hired. KNEW THAT
- Harry’s owl was played by 4 trained animals and Ron’s Scabbers by at least a dozen rats. Then there’s 4 cats that played Crookshanks and nine dogs that played Fang. KNEW THAT (even the 4 owls specifically, for the rest I knew there were several animals but not exactly how many)
- All the walls in the Weasley’s house were crooked to make it look disheveled. KNEW THAT
- Quidditch was completely effects and green screens. Obviously. KNEW THAT
- Five warehouses were needed to store all the props used during the films. Included 5.000 pieces of furniture, 12.000 handmade books, 25.000 pages of the Quibbler, 40.000 products from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. KNEW THAT (though no specific numbers)
- The actual goblet of fire is over 5 feet tall and was hand-carved from an English Elm tree. KNEW THAT it was very tall, but not that it was hand-carved, such a nice detail
- 18 different cars were used for the Chamber of Secrets’ getaway and 3 old double-decker buses were used to build the 22-foot high Knight Bus. DIDN’T KNOW THAT, well except that they must have used multiple versions of everything, that kind of makes sense
- The moving staircases consisted of one real moving staircase and then a lot of tiny model staircases added in post-production. KNEW THAT
- The moving portraits were a mix of real paintings and green screens with people moving around. All portraits were of producers who worked on the movies. KNEW THAT about the mix though DIDN’T KNOW THAT they were the producers
- The Ministry of Magic set was so big it needed hundreds of extras. The walls were lined with green and red wood tiles and the fireplaces were more than 9 metres tall. KNEW THAT
- For the prophecy hall, 15.000 orbs were made and lit by the designers. But in the end, the whole scene was digitalized and they didn’t use any of them. KNEW THAT it was digital, but DIDN’T KNOW THAT they had actually made them first in real life
- The “Magic is Might” statue was made of foam and hand painted. DIDN’T KNOW THAT and honestly don’t find it that interesting either
- For the cat plates in Umbridge’s office, they took pictures of actual cats and digitally added the pictures later in post-production. DIDN’T KNOW THAT and again, not that interesting
- As Umbridge gained more power, her wardrobe got progressively more pink. DIDN’T KNOW THAT and I will have to go back to watch the movies and find the actual proof
- They had an extensive Animal and Creatures department to create all of them for the movies. For the Gringotts’ goblins, they spent hours making all the masks. KNEW THAT
- They also created models of Dobby and Mandrake plants to be scanned for the computer-generated versions. KNEW THAT because they obviously weren’t designed from scratch in the computer
- All of the creatures began as sketches in the design department. KNEW THAT
- The Creatures department also made monster models with motors to simulate movement. KNEW THAT, again, quite logical no? These movies saw real teamwork in real-life effects and computer effects
- Voldemort’s face was half real and half digital effects. KNEW THAT
- Diagon Alley changed throughout filming and they were modeled after Charles Dickens’ books and the descriptions from the books. KNEW THAT
- The Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes set took 3 months to build and filled with 120 specially designed products. Ollivanders wand shop had over 17.000 individual wand boxes. KNEW THAT (well not the specific numbers)
- All the sweeping views of the castle were actually of a 1:24 scale models and it could be lit from the inside. It took over 80 artists to construct over several months. KNEW THAT
So I knew most of that, actually. And some of these “Incredible Things” are not even that incredible. I mean, they made a mask for Hagrid? All creatures and animals were a combination of real-life and computer animations? Well, obviously, it’s how you get the best and most lifelike results. That it was not one animal that played the part in every film? That they used several cars and versions of props? That sets changed over the course of the seven movies? I mean, these facts are so obvious.
I did learn a few new things though. And I still can’t wait to get to the Warner Brothers studio myself. It’s on the list for this or next year! Let me know what you loved and what I definitely can’t miss!