Today, June 25th, was our first day back from our four-day vacation. The group was anxious to reconvene and to participate in our activity for the day. A couple of us were very excited. Why? We were going participate in the Warner Bros Studio Tour which displays the making of the Harry Potter movies. A lot of the students in our group are big fans of the story and were excited by the fact that actual props from the movies were going to be on display. Personally, I was more excited about the part of the tour that showed us behind the scenes of how the films were made. From animatronics to set design to CGI, how these films were put together is very interesting and there was a lot to be learned from this experience. Going through the tour, one of the first things I noticed was just how intricate yet large some of these set pieces were. This massive clock immediately stood out to me because it blew my mind that a team of artists probably spent weeks creating this working clock for just a part of the films. Later in the tour, we got to see how these pieces were planned and just how much thought went into each one. This is a paper and cardboard model that was used to design the set of Hogwarts Castle. Before this, there were drawings and endless changes. They had models like this for almost every piece of the set. It just goes to show how much work is put into designing a set. Another part of the process that I thought was really quite cool was how they used Animatronics to create practical effects instead of CGI when they could. For example, this book monster was not just graphics. It was an actual moving, motor controlled, prop. In addition, this animal along with many others was created in real life with moving parts to use in the film. I remember reading that the designer spent quite a while just talking to feather experts to make sure that the feathers were placed well and looked realistic. The last element that I found really interesting was how they used a mix of a large scale model and CGI to film Hogwarts Castle. They actually used this massive model to film a lot of the exterior shots of the castle. They then took those shots and added computer graphics to make it look realistic and larger than life. I thought this was really cool and an interesting balance between using pure CGI and physical locations. Overall this experience allowed me to learn quite a lot about different filmmaking techniques used in fantasy films. What I found most interesting was just how much of the set and parts of the movie were real and not computer generated.