Magical Outing: the Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio

Wizards’ lovers, rejoice! The 31st of March will see the opening of The Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros London studios, where the biggest film series in history was made over ten years. For the first time, fans will get the chance to set foot on the actual sets from the movies, as well as discover all the original props and costumes. This unique attraction, which takes about three hours to complete, gives its visitors a “behind the scenes” look at the creative process of production. There’s even an opportunity to get one’s photo taken riding a broomstick, which promises to be particularly popular amongst the little ones- although very fun too for the grown-ups. Chic-Londres visited the studio ahead of its official opening, and reveals below some of the film’s “secrets” discovered during the tour.

The Great Hall The ceiling in the Great Hall -one of the most impressive of all sets on display-was inspired by the arched timber ceiling of Westminster Hall and created using visual effects. During production of the first film, the heat from the flames burnt through the wires and the floating candles fell onto the tables- the floating candles were created digitally afterwards.

The Dormitory Originally constructed for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the beds were much too small for the boys by the latter films, and the actors eventually had to curl up to keep their legs and feet from hanging over the ends during shooting.

Dumbledore’s office The hundreds of books that cover the shelves of Dumbledore’s study actually are British phonebooks covered in leather.

Hagrid’s hut Filmmakers relied on some clever tricks to make Hagrid seem larger than the other characters, including creating two different versions of the set: a larger scale was used to make characters of “regular” size seem smaller in comparison to the surroundings, and a smaller set was used to make Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid, seem larger.

The Ministry of Magic The office towers were based on a 19th century Victorian building in London and covered in thousands of green and red tiles made of wood painted to look like ceramic. As one of the largest sets constructed for the film, scenes shot there required hundreds of extras, many of whom were actually crewmembers in cloaks, beards and hats. The gaudy pink furniture featured in professor Umbridge’s office were found at a Middle Eastern furniture shop in North London.

Diagon Alley The original design of the street combined the details from the books with inspiration from the streets described in the works of Charles Dickens. Many of the alley set pieces were re-dressed for use in the village of Hogsmeade in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Designed to look like an 18th century shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes took more than three months to build, much of that time spent constructing the giant mannequin above the entrance.

Knight Bus The 22-foot tall bus was created from pieces of three vintage London double-deckers. Two versions were built: one that was motorised and able to be driven and a “stunt” version that spun around on a turntable.

The Hogwarts Castle model The jewel in the crown of the Art department, this intricately detailed model was built by a team of 86 artists and crewmembers, who hand-sculpted everything to scale. It took inspiration from Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral, where scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were shot

Props By the time production ended in 2011, the Harry Potter prop department had made or purchased thousands of items, including 5,000 pieces of furniture, 12,000 handmade books, more than 3,000 wands and 40,000 Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products and packages.

Make-up and prosthetics The make-up effects used to create Voldemort included temporary tattoos for veins, enhanced cheekbones, contact lenses and false eyebrows, fingernails and teeth. Coloured dots on Ralph Fiennes’ face were used to track the movement of his face and digitally replace his nose with the Dark Lord’s snake-like nostrils.

The tour officially opens to visitors on 31st March 2012 at the Warner Bros London studios in Leavesden, 20 miles north-west of London. All tickets must be pre-booked through and cost £28 for adults and £21 for children.

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