Archive for the ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ Category

In light of finals coming up, something that Muggles and wizards DO have in common is the fact that they both take exams, both in school and standardized. In the wizarding world they’re called OWLS. In the British Muggle society, they’re called GCSEs, also taken around sophomore year/5th year and take two years to study for. In American Muggle society, they’re called SAT or ACT, obviously taken between junior and senior year.

Another difference is that if you do well in an OWL subject, you get the OWL, depending on the letter grade:

O- Outstanding

E- Exceeds Expectations

A-Acceptable

P-Poor

D-Dreadful

T-Troll

GCSEs have a similar structure, also scored by letter grade (from highest to lowest): A, B, C, D, E, F, G. For those of you who don’t know, GCSE stand for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”. They are tested over a variety of subjects, including English, math, several foreign languages, sciences, arts, and even over techonology and humanities. However, for us Americans, SATs are graded by the number score, with 2400 being the highest; they’re divided into three sections of reading, math, and writing, so therefore, 800 is the highest you can get in each section.  In the ACT, 36 is the highest you can get, and like the OWLs and GCSEs, they are tested over a variety of school subjects.

Like American muggles, the wizarding world will have to take several standardized tests before they graduate, including the NEWTs and the WOMBATs. NEWTs can be called the harder version of the OWL, but the WOMBAT is actually comprised of several tests. Based on what you’ve read on Harry Potter, how well would you do on this sample part from a WOMBAT from Harry Potter Wiki?:

Part Two – International WizardryEdit Part Two - International Wizardry section

7. Mark the following statements True or False

7-1. There are witches and wizards living in every country in the world.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-2. Some countries have wizard royal families.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-3. The trade in flying carpets has been banned everywhere except the Far East.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-4.The world’s largest Centre for Alchemical Studies in situated in Egypt.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-5. The age at which magic may be performed legally varies from country to country.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-6. Inter-country Apparition has been outlawed due to extreme Splinching.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-7. There is a wizarding school in every country where wizards and witches are found.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-8. Portkeys may be arranged between countries only with the consent of both nations’ Ministries of Magic.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-9. It is illegal to send mail-bearing owls across international borders unless the owl has been granted authorisation.

a. TRUE
b. FALSE
7-10. The most persistent offender against the International Wizarding Statute of Secrecy is Scotland.
a. TRUE
b. FALSE
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So as I promised, this post is about the Quidditch scenes.

For so many years, it was a closely guarded secret, and it wasn’t until after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I that the secret was finally released. You might think, “Oh I already know the answer- it’s green screen!” That’s partially correct, but not quite. It’s more than “riding” a broom in a green screen room- it’s a combination of green screen, building, technology, and machinery.

As Harry Potter movies takes about twice as long as your average move to film, quidditch training can take as long as half a year.

So to help you understand, I’ll take you on a little journey with Ben Shephard, who has been going behind the scenes and interviewing cast since the production of Harry Potter and Goblet and the Fire, through these two vids:

According to many cast members, they said that their experiences  with the brooms  were rather uncomfortable, as the broom handle is very thin. According to Daniel Radcliffe, “blood is drawn from unlikely places”.  According to Ben Shephard, as you saw in the second link, he agrees with the actors that the experience is painstaking yet very fun. And once the broom scenes come to life on the screen, the hard work and painful experiences behind the brooms are certainly worth it and very enjoyable to watch.

 

So I’ve already exlpained the basics of green screen acting.

All of the green screen acting takes place in Leavesden Studios, also known as Warner Bros. Studios, which is located  in Hertforshire, England. It’s not really a big nor tiny place, but inside its rather somewhat- shabby-looking appearance, the inside is packed with action.

aerial views:

Aerial view of Leavesden Studios showing Privet Drive set at the bottom. (from Windows Live Local)Privet Drive set (from Windows Live Local)

left: Leavesden studios with Privet Dr set at the bottom; right: a closer look at the Privet drive set.

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but the place with the filming for the Quidditch matches (how did they do those anyway? Find out in the next post), all the Triwizard Tournament Tasks, and the basilisk fighting-scene, were all filmed right here- all thanks to green screen acting. FYI, for you Inception fans out there, that movie was filmed at Leavesden Studios too. Because Inception was filming around the same time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was, and unfortunately, Leavesden Studios is not large enough to host the filming of more than one movie, part of the filming took place in another location known as Pinewood Studios (more to come about this second location later on).

As you have probably guessed, a large majority of the walls are lined with green or blue screen. Although most of the scenery is created with technology from green screen, not everything is nonexistent. Sets including  Malfoy Manor, Mr. Lovegood’s house and the Ministry of Magic (in Deathly Hallows only; the Ministry of Magic seen in the 5th film took place at Westminster Tube Station in London), all painstakingly built, are all there. Sets like Hagrid Hut and Privet Drive were actually built outside Leavesden Studios. The dragon area for the First Task was built on the back lot. No surprise, all of them are lined with green screen as well.

This 500,000 square feet area that was once an aircraft manufacturing facility has housed all the filming of all the Harry Potter movies and thus plays an important role. But now that the filming’s done, what movie is currently filming there? We may not know until it is released a year or so later.

Like most popular series, it all started with an author with brilliant ideas. According to JK Rowling, she said that, on a crowded train in London, the idea of Harry “suddenly fell into her head.”

Yes, it’s obvious about what this site is about. Not just the books, though. Particularly the movies.

Although it annoys me sometimes that some parts in the book are altered, left out, or overdramatized in the films, have you wondered how all those special effects were created? You know some of those things couldn’t happen in real life, even though the movie makers did a great job of making it look realistic. For example, did you know the underwater sequence in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire took half a year to produce what you saw on the screen?

And in the upcoming posts, you’ll not only learn how producing the movie works, but you’ll see links to videos of short film montages, cast interviews, and maybe even a few bloopers.

What is the basic concept behind all the movies? It’s through a process called green screen acting.

Like the name says, actors literally act in front of a green screen while beeing taped. Once that film clip is loaded to a computer.  The green  allows the movie producers to technologically mess around with the background or add in objects that don’t really exist, such as dragons. There is also a similar process the same as green screen acting, only it is called blue screen acting, and again as the name says, actors literally act in front of a blue screen. All Harry Potter movies have used a combination of both filming techniques. Though technically they are the same the process, green screen apparently appears to be a more popular choice.

Green screen isn’t only used for Harry Potter films. It has also been used for all of the Narnia films to date as well as the recent The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.