An all CG Hogwarts is one of the many vfx highlights of the Harry Potter finale. All images © 2011 Warner Bros. Ent.
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"Environments, especially, have been a breakthrough, asserts Tim Burke, the overall supervisor that has been on Potter since the second film, The Chamber of Secrets." It's all HDRI, and that way of photographing textures has given us incredibly detailed shots and the ability to relight things. It's all based on the proprietary tools to stitch this stuff together and make it work."
But the biggest decision was making Hogwarts CG for the first time. Double Negative and MPC split up the school and surrounding environments, and spent 18 months just on the design. "Basically, we were able to design and execute shots right up to final delivery," Burke adds. "It gave us a lot of flexibility. We were able to render things quickly without fussing around. It seems to me that we can turn around iterations so much quicker than ever before."
Since the ongoing war takes place at Hogwarts throughout the second-half of Part 2, it was essential that the battleground display sufficient detail and dynamic compositions, especially in light of the 3-D.
"David wanted to create these fantastic, big shots that link different parts of the action in different areas, going from outside the school to inside the school," Burke adds. "And all of the development that we've done and the extra high-resolution that we've corrected for have allowed us to fly around courtyards and into windows during critical moments of the battle, and has made the whole experience very visceral and given the camera a way of being immersive."
|Harry and friends take a ride out of Gringotts on the back of a dragon.|
Double Neg (supervised by David Vickery) was the lead vendor and the equivalent of the miniature model facility, only in CG. They started building the school and surrounding environment at the end of 2008, led by Pietro Ponti, the environment supervisor. Their work includes the battle of Hogwarts and wooden bridge attack. They also did the first sequence, where Harry and his friends break into Gringotts bank, have the wild cart ride into the cavernous vault and then escape on the dragon. Burke particularly likes the forlorn look of this imprisoned creature, which distinguishes it from other dragons.