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Visual Effects n n n n It sounds complicated. It gets further complicated because we de- livered a lot of these shots as full-stereo shots. So, we developed a pipeline along the way to share stereo rigs and cameras between facilities. The hero performance would set the stereo for the camera and pass it to the background facil- ity, which would render left and right versions. Everyone worked on mono versions, so we had three things running at the same time for over 200 of the shots. It was a massive logisti- cal job as well as a great technical exercise. Did the addition of stereo 3D to this film affect the design? It did, actually. David's take was that [stereo 3D] should be immersive and not take you out of the picture. He shot it in 2D, and it has a lot of drama and action. He was keen that [stereo 3D] didn't distract from the drama, so we kept it subtle and all about the actors. The volume is in the actors, not in the space, and I think that works very well. We tried to exploit the depth without making people feel uncom- fortable; we'd get creative with the stereo and then back off for the dramatic scenes. In the big linking shots where we establish parts of the school, the audience feels like they're flying around watching the action be- low. These flying shots are incredibly spatial. And, we have a roller-coaster cart ride in the vault; we exploited that. Also, we deliberately had the dragon break the screen plane, and had some real fun with that. Who worked on the dragon? DNeg. They did a great job with the dragon in the Gringotts' cave. We developed a whole back-story of the life of the dragon. He's a semi- albino dragon that has been abused and kept locked up in the bank. The [Gringott] goblins torture him so they can access the vaults. We referenced badly treated dogs. The poor ani- mals. Their faces and bodies displayed the level of emotion we wanted. And then we designed a badly maltreated creature whose posture and body poses convey that he's been tortured. He's never seen the light of day. We see him early on in the film. When he's set free from his shackles, he sniffs the air, follows the scent of fresh air, and scales the walls with the kids on his back. He gets revenge on the goblins, and then he discov- ers how to fly. We have an animated sequence that shows what a dragon looks like when it can't fly properly. The sequence is all-CG; there are no miniatures. He's our biggest animated character, and he's completely unique. But, of course, we had lots of other things–Dementors, Death Eaters, all the usual CG doubles. . . . Animators at Double Negative freed an albino dragon, created at the studio, from its imprisonment and taught the tortured animal how to fly. Which studios worked on the other char- acters in the film? Rising Sun, which had done the Dementors in Part 1, did all the Dementors in the action sequence around the school. Baseblack did the ghost, the gray lady, and they also handled Scottish environments for the sequences we shot on the back lot. Cinesite came on board to remove Volde- mort's nose and do a revamp on the marble staircase. Stuart Craig wanted a more intri- cate series of zigzagging staircases that were wider to allow for the big fight sequences. Their work involved massive set extensions in both directions for one of our big interior sets at Pinewood. Cinesite did all the work on that, plus the physical dynamic destruc- tion, wand effects, and crowd replication to populate it. Framestore did the Basilisk [the giant snake] and the Chamber of Secrets, which was a set in the second film. They modeled, textured, and created the environment by referencing film clips from that film. They created a nice water simulation—a wave of water which attacks the kids that we shot on greenscreen. Framestore also did the Kings Cross Sequence, which we call the white mist. This is the heaven sequence where Harry meets Dumbledore. It's a white, ethe- real version of King's Cross station. And then they did another version of King's Cross for the very end of the movie. The original shoot took place in the real King's Cross, but they did a re-shoot in Levesdon. How many studios worked on the film? We had 11 vendors, including several small vendors that helped us out with shots, and Vine, our own little in-house facility where two or three people working on 2D systems ended up doing a couple hundred shots on both the final films. Lola, which is famous for youthenizing actors, helped make Alan Rick- man 30 years younger for flashback sequences, and they also had a call late in the day to do aging work on the 19-year-old actors at the end of the film. They treated all those shots digitally to make the kids older. And then Tippett Studios came in late to help us finish off a big technical animation ex- ercise involving a fun sequence where the kids break into a vault and try to find the horcrux. There's a spell that causes the treasure to mul- tiply, so they created a dynamic simulation of the multiplying treasure. As the treasure mul- tiplies, it fills up the room and elevates Harry on a growing mound to the point where he can reach the cup. At the same time, everyone else is drowning in treasure. It's a great little sequence. Gradient Effects in Berlin and Marina del Rey [California] did fluid work on sequences for some flashback memories. They're very good, very technical. Union VFX in Soho, which recently did the work on Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, did 50-odd shots at the end. And then, of course, we had extra vendors to do the stereo conversions. We were flat out for the last two months, but it all got done. What will you do next? I think it will be a big effects film based in the UK but using global facilities. One thing we really got working on Part 2 was treating the whole of Soho as one big facility. We shared work among four and five vendors, painlessly moving between. It's like having a huge re- source at your disposal. They all worked to- gether creatively rather than competitively. [The next project] is a bit of a secret, but if it happens, it will be exciting. n August/September 2011 19

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