The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Places of Harry Potter - year 1
Reducio! Potter Posters, plain and simple.
↳ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone
“To find the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry, Hermione and Ron are faced with several challenges that they must overcome. For the film-making team on the first movie, each of these tasks represented a technical challenge that required them to assess what the proper balance of practical and visual effects would be.
Hagrid’s guard dog Fluffy had not only three heads, but also three distinct personalities. “One was alert, one was smart, and one was sleepy,” says visual effects supervisor Robert Legato. “The animators named each of them, to keep things clear.” Although Fluffy was primarily a CG animation, huge paws were created for the actors to work with in close-ups. Unfortunately, Fluffy’s drool was also a practical effect.
Using CSI for the Devil’s Snare proved too costly. The filmmakers had to come up with a practical way for the Snare to envelop Harry, Ron and Hermione. So, on set, giant tentacles were wrapped around the actors and manipulated and pulled off by the unseen puppeteers. Then the film was played backwards - making it appear as if the vines were grappling the characters rather than being removed from them.
When asked what the Philosopher’s Stone should look like, Jo Rowling described it as “an uncut ruby.” Prop stones were created from plastic, but they looked more like big pieces of sweets than precious stones. To create a shiny, lustrous appearance for the final cast, filmmakers placed small flame on top of the camera used to film it, giving the stone an extra hint of translucence.
The design for the winged keys could not be too beautiful, or they would appear benign. “They had to be scary and wild,” says Legato, “but not too scary or too wild.” The keys were created digitally, and their movements modeled on the dips and turns of a flock of birds shifting in concert.
The final challenge was a game of life-sized wizard chess. Director Chris Columbus wanted as many practical effects as possible for this section, so John Richardson and his special effects team went to work. They sculpted full-sized clay models - some of them twelve feet high - of the thirty-two chess pieces designed by Stuart Craig and the art department, made moulds, and then cast these figures in various materials according to their use. The radio-controlled pieces could be commanded to move across the board, battle, and even explode. “We could drive the horse forward and stop,” says Richardson, “and then move it sideways and stop very cleanly.” Using pyrotechnics to blow up the pieces raised some concerns, especially with such young actors involved, so “we put compressed-air devices inside the pieces instead to blow them up in a very controlled manner,” says Richardson. The only digital effects in the scene are the dust and debris that were added to enhance the visual impact of the explosions.”
- Harry Potter: Page To Screen by Bob McCabe