MPC brings a touch of VFX magic to the latest attraction from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
In June 2019, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter welcomed a new addition to its roster of rides with the launch of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Visitors are able to join the loveable Hagrid and fly beyond the grounds of Hogwarts castle on an awe-inspiring roller coaster that plunges into the paths of some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.
Directed by John Sunter, MPC handled the end-to-end production for the promotional spot.
“The director had a very clear vision and gave us really moody and magical style frames that really inspired us all the way through production” explained MPC’s VFX Supervisor Jessie Amadio.
“Fluffy made his film debut in 2001, so he needed quite the update, leading us to re-create him from scratch. Our talented modelling artist made lots of anatomy sketches to work out how the three heads would merge together believably and prevent him from toppling over from the weight of them”.
Giving further insight into some of the VFX work involved, Jessie added: “We really ran with the idea of Hagrid’s super-charged motorbike flames. It’s a cool visual device that adds lots of drama and contrast to the image. Our FX team worked up this effect in Houdini, with varying setups for different types of camera movement, namely speed, which at the rate our camera was traveling required creative solutions to get the look of an evolved fire sim on every frame.
The roller coaster shot required a lot of previs to lay out exactly how a massive track would fit through the forest we shot. There was talk of a motion control shoot for the people, but ultimately we decided that the full CG approach would be the most flexible, considering that the ride itself had to be CG anyway. Houdini’s latest hair grooming tools made it pretty easy to knock out 10 hairstyles for the actors we had 3D scanned and rigged as riders”.
On being given the opportunity to bring everyone’s favourite creatures back to life, MPC’s Animation Lead, David Bryan, commented: “It was a special treat as an animator to be given a handful of creatures and characters from the Harry Potter series, showcasing each one individually as we rapidly pass through the Forbidden Forest”.
David touched on some of the creative challenges: “The most challenging aspect was animating the heavy dragon perched on top of Gringotts bank with sufficient weight and a fire breathing flourish into the roller coaster style camera transition.
Also with the limited screen time we had for each character, selective posing with strong silhouettes was key for building quality compositions at high speed”.