Studio Daily had the chance to interview Harry Potter VFX Supervisor Tim Burke and he discussed working on the films for the past 10 years. More specifically he goes into using a digital set for Hogwarts instead of minatures as well as changing Voldemort’s Death scene after a few screenings.

Which shots in the film are your favorites?

Funnily enough, I think the sequence of the shield forming and the destruction of the shield. Even though they weren’t perhaps the most complicated, they were some of the most beautiful. As Voldemort arrived with his army on the hillside, the teachers went into the areas of the courtyard and created a magical shield that enveloped and protected the school. We art-directed the shots at Double Negative and they are elegant.

It took a long time to create the magical shield. Then Voldemort bombarded the school and destroyed the shield. We wanted to give that an epic scale. We referenced the Hindenburg airship disaster, when it went up in flames, to get the scale of the flames and burning materials. That was the reference for pieces of cloth-like fire that dropped down onto the school. It was magical – not in a Harry Potter sense. It was beautiful and shocking at the same time. Those shots were completely CG and had a big design aspect, which is rewarding.

Of course, all the fighting action sequences were great fun. Getting the giants to work by using live-action actors and changing their faces with CG helped us not to have to create full CG characters. We used scaling and oversized people. MPC changed their faces so they didn’t look human.

And I’m not forgetting the dragon that D-Neg created. We had to emphasize and feel sorry for this 60-foot dragon through pure performance. We found reference from badly treated real animals and translated that body language into our character. He was trapped. Unable to fly. Partially blind. And he had been down there his whole life. It was important to emphasize that so you wanted him to escape and when he did, he flew with majesty and pride. That was a lovely story to roll into the character of the dragon.

Filed Under: Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter Films