Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The whole story

Really?  No takers?

OK then.  I expect the broad shot will make it more apparent:

Yep.  It's a model.  Of Hogwarts Castle.  (A damn impressive model.)  Courtesy the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.  I've actually been to the Warner Studio tour in California, and it's really one of your better studio tours, so I had some high expectations for this here one.  And I wasn't disappointed.  It's exclusively a Harry Potter tour, which covers three areas -- two soundstages and a backlot -- but they pack a lot of stuff in the limited space.

I mean, the whole thing starts with a short introductory film, where the 3 no-longer-child stars introduce you to things.  You might notice, during the film, that they're standing in front of the doors to the Great Hall.  The film ends; the screen ascends; and your tour guide is standing in front of those same doors.  She invites the group up, opens the doors, and bam, there it is:

(Forgive the mood lighting -- I didn't realize I'd had the flash off on my camera until partway through.)  There's a short intro in the Great Hall, at which point they pretty much let you loose.  You're in a fairly massive soundstage, in which they've set up a whole mess of the sets (Hagrid's Hut, the Gryffindor dorm, the Weasley's cottage, offices at the Ministry of Magic ...) as well as displays of props, costumes, and all sorts of other Harry Potter goodies.  You're really only escorted through the Grand Hall -- other than that, you've got one of them audio guide thingies, so you just type in the number corresponding to the exhibit you're looking at, and you get all necessary info.  I learned pretty early on that it was best to go out of order -- that way, you're more likely to see stuff when other people aren't crowding around it.  Still, it was a bit of a challenge to get photos without random other people in them.  Here's one, though.

I always like cute little details people might miss.  Here's one from the hair, wig and makeup peeps:

I thought that the statue from the Ministry of Magic was really impressive.  My audio guide thingie told me that this was actually sculpted out of foam.  Which I absolutely didn't believe when I looked as it, as it was painted and lit absolutely realistically.  But when I took some pictures -- by now, I'd put my camera flash back on -- it totally looks fake.  So, there's a lesson in here about lighting, I reckon.

I did take one picture with random other tourists in it.  This was, in part, because there was no way to get this shot without someone else being in it.  But the shot actually needs people in it, so I didn't really mind.  Consider these here tourists to be "extras" in my scene:

Yep.  Turn a corner and you're in Diagon freakin' Alley.  Not bad, eh?  They really did exceptional work dressing this set for the tour -- it looks real enough to shop in.  (I would have much rather shopped there than in the mandatory Gift Shop At The End of the Tour, in which every item was so insanely overpriced, I would have choked at these prices if they were in dollars instead of pounds.  I did end up buying a small gift for a friend.  Ten sheets of paper with the Hogwarts logo cost 8 pounds.  EIGHT POUNDS!  That's like $12.50.  A buck and a quarter for a sheet of paper.  How any parent could afford to send their kid to a school like that is beyond me.)

Where was I?  Oh, right, the photos from the tour.  They also had a few Harry Potter vehicles you could sit in or stand near or whatever -- photo ops, is what I'm saying.  So, my friends helped me out with one of them:

That's the Knight Bus (the sign reads:  "All Destinations.  None Underwater")

And I'm the total geek.

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