I first read Harry Potter when I was in high school not long after it was first published and I was hooked. I read them all as they came out, but until recently I hadn’t actually seen all of the films! My daughter is really into Harry Potter – we have owls and wands all over the place! – and it’s been so lovely to read all of the books again, with her, and to watch the films too.
Over the Summer we visited the Harry Potter Studio – what an amazing place – and I took lots of photos in the graphics section to show you because I was a bit excited 🙂
The graphics department was led by Miraphora Mina for all eight films, with Ruth Winick on the first two films and Eduardo Lima from film three – Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima subsequently formed a design studio called MinaLima. Can you imagine them talking about what they’d been up to at work? How much fun?!
They said “The stories, set in present day, gave us a great deal of freedom to establish a visual aesthetic that would describe a ‘magic’ world… some of this came from the direction given by the architecture of the set designs, but much of it came from the demands of the fiction, prompting us to reference particular historical periods and styles.” (Link to article)
“Their work has such a strong impact because it is thoroughly researched. The subject matter may be fantastic, but you see all kids of influences from art and culture – whether ancient runes or Victorian typefaces – that give a sense of history to their work. This clever pastiche produces mysterious echoes of things that are strangely familiar or that you might dimly understand – quite like magic.” Stuart Craig, Production Designer, Harry Potter.
There’s an exhibition for the graphic arts of Harry Potter at MinaLima – something I’ve just added to my list because I didn’t know it was there!
What you might not have realised about Harry Potter is the amount of detail that goes into everything. I can’t say that I fully appreciated this until we visited, some things were hand drawn or written, the Quibbler and Daily Prophet were filled with stories, advertisements and references to the cast and crew – not just a cover with blank pages. The tickets and programmes for the Quidditch World Cup were designed to include team information, formation and an advert for Pumpkin Juice, the book covers, exam papers, cereal boxes, crests, posters, the Black family tree hand painted onto a tapestry, sweet boxes, the marauders map.. it’s endless, impressive, detailed, delightful and so much fun. The Time Turner was also designed by the Graphics Department – did you know it has mottos about time engraved on it? I bought my daughter a chocolate frog and the box was so beautiful I’ve made her keep it!
There’s also the logos for Hogwarts, the house logos, the logos for the shops and papers and the Ministry of Magic, but each of these have further branding to help strengthen them further – think of all the house items, not just the logo, but the scarves and hats and quidditch robes and the robes themselves with the coloured linings (we have two Gryffindor robes in our home), the ties and the notepaper – just like in our Muggle world, everything has to be designed, branding strengthened with colours and fonts and other elements, and that’s really exciting!
How do you make something as normal as a newspaper into something completely magical? Mirapahora describes designing for the Harry Potter films as being anchored in reality, but “taking a reality and shifting it just a few degrees into this fictional space.. it’s a bit weird when you look deeper.’ (See link)
What these photos don’t show (because that’s not what this post is about) is all of the other elements that go into the production of the films. The model making, the costumes, the set design and build, the creature making, and on and on… it’s quite something – I was WAY more excited about it all than I expected to be – if you are even a little bit of a Harry Potter fan then I encourage you to GO!