MPC completed over 180 shots for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, including bringing Nagini the snake to life, creating digi-doubles for the ‘polyjuice transformation’ sequence and carrying out extensive environment work.
Harry Potter’s latest outing, directed by David Yates, is the first part of the seventh installment ‘The Deathly Hallows’ produced by Warner Bros.
MPC animated Voldemort’s giant snake Nagini, redesigning the old snake to achieve a more naturalistic look. Referencing a python, the 3D team re-rigged and textured Nagini and animated it following the dynamics of vipers, cobras and pythons.
Nagini attacks Harry in Bathilda Bagshot’s house, biting him and wrapping itself around Harry. For this sequence MPC had carry out body replacements to enhance the interaction between Harry and the CG snake.
One of the biggest challenges for MPC was the transformation sequence, where six members of the order of Phoenix take a polyjuice potion to assume Harry’s form and confuse Voldemort. MPC was responsible for the digital transformations, creating fully CG versions of the six characters and animating them for a full screen performance.
MPC’s concept artists explored different combinations for the transformed characters, blending features, sizes and skin textures from Harry and the other characters to create six different hybrid designs. The seven actors were shot using motion control and a facial motion capture shoot was organised to obtain extra detail. MPC’s 3D team had to create digi-doubles for each of the actors, modeling and texturing photoreal heads and blending them with a CG model of Harry’s head. A custom rigging system was used to blend the data from the facial capture shoot, allowing animators to keep control of the fine details.
Once out of Privet Drive, the seven Harrys fly over London to escape the Death Eaters. MPC had to create CG thestrals – a cross between a horse and a dragon – and extend Privet Drive’s set. Green screen rider elements were combined with the CG creatures, digi-doubles and live action footage.
For the Death Eaters’ chase, MPC created over 100 CG characters, including full screen digi-doubles for Harry, Hagrid and the Death Eaters. The environment work included a CG aerial cloudscape, cityscapes and various set extensions.
The chase culminates with a wand duel between Harry and Voldemort, with fx work including explosions, wand effects, CG water and the bike crash. Other work for this sequence included fire, a crashing caravan and CG traffic.
MPC also worked on the apparating sequence; full res digi-doubles were created and rigged to be later twisted and stretched showing the real agony of this way of travelling.