Fourteen years ago a film was released that changed my childhood. Whilst the world had already been spellbound for 4 years, I was an oblivious 8 year old who didn’t choose to read unless I had to (for school). I can still remember the moment when my Godmother’s Mum (Shirley) suggested that I should read Harry Potter because everyone was talking about it. Why? Well, it’s a bit embarrassing really. I ignored Shirley’s recommendation because as soon as I heard Potter I automatically thought of Beatrix Potter and I didn’t want to read about animals. I obviously thought I was too cool for that – stupid me! So when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out in 2001, everyone was so excited and of course all of my friends wanted to see it at the cinema. I was persuaded to go. After the film I left the cinema feeling so stupid – I had seriously underestimated the power of magic. I was amazed by J.K. Rowling’s world so I bought all of the Harry Potter books that had been released up to that point (4 I think) and didn’t put them down. I was even one of those people who queued at midnight to get their hands on a copy of the book. All of a sudden I loved reading and joined my local library where I cleared out the Young Adult section and started requesting books from other libraries! And my love affair with words has blossomed ever since…
But back to Harry Potter – just incase you didn’t realise, I LOVE IT – The books, the films, the magic. So I really don’t know how it has taken me so long to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, but at the weekend I finally made it to Leavesden! I booked tickets for Jack, Lucy, Nadia, Ellie, Dan and myself in back November and we’ve been excited ever since.
SPOILER ALERT – If you’ve not been to the studio tour and want to keep it all as a mystery then close this post now!
Let’s get the cheesy posing out of the way shall we? Welcome to Hogwarts, muggles:
Naturally I enjoyed seeing all of the props, costumers and sets, but as always I had my Graphics radar on ready to find the design details that brought each of the magical stories to life on film. Back in 2009 I blogged about my love of the Harry Potter typography but I remember that I found it quite hard to find photos or screen grabs of graphics from the films back then – now it was time to see them up close:
From the typographic detailing of the Umbridge’s proclamations…
… to the Ministry of Magic logo and typography carved into ‘stone’. All of these details might be taken for granted by most viewers but really help to bring the wizarding world to life. And even the information around the set was considered, with a parchment and ink feel a bit like the Marauders Map:
The Quidditch memorabilia is colourful and a bit gaudy in a bubble writing style (worse than Comic Sans?!), especially the two posters on either ends but I quite like the middle one for the 422nd Quidditch world cup. (I screen printed something kind of similar when I was at college)
I love the traditional printed style of the wanted and caught posters – so striking and bold but simple in black and white. I found The Daily Prophet, which could only mean one thing – I was in Diagon Alley:
The sale of Unicorn blood is forbidden – DO NOT ASK. All of the shops had cool detailing in their windows and doors and don’t forget the hand painted (or maybe wand painted?) typography on the shopfronts and signage.
Now, when it came to the Weasley’s shop I was a little disappointed. Just because in the films they have some of the best packaging and as I peered through the shop window I couldn’t really see a lot. The best photo I could get was of the skiving snack boxes but I definitely would love to have seen more:
Which was kind of answered as I turned out of Diagon Alley and found ‘Graphics corner’:
Honesty I was a bit disappointed that it was literally a table and one small cabinets worth because the amount of work that the Graphics team would have produced must be a lot bigger than this table!? But still, it was good to see the items laid out in the light:
So it would appear that those wizards love a bit of gold foiling – very luxe!
To finish the tour you pass through a replica of Olivander’s wand shop, with a wand for every person that worked on the films. I thought this was a really lovely idea and it looked amazing. We managed to find Daniel Radcliffe’s wand, but I just enjoyed looking at all of the different styles of wand box:
I don’t think I had noticed it before, but apparently there is a printing press in the Lovegood’s house. I guess it does make sense as Luna’s Dad is the editor of the Quibbler newspaper though…
… so it was nice to see the real press and some woodblock letters too!
And that was the tour finished! Obviously I took a lot more photos than that but some didn’t come out too well due to lighting etc. However the graphics fun doesn’t end there because you come out into the gift shop which has loads of Harry Potter-esque packaging:
Let’s be honest, most of the packaging is actually pretty hideous in terms of modern design, but it’s really fun and probably would have slotted in nicely with the 90’s (when the films were set).
There is also a little graphics section of the shop where you can buy framed posters, postcards and books. I resisted buying anything (mainly because I couldn’t choose and haven’t really got anywhere to store things at the moment) but loved getting a closer look:
Geeking out about the posters… as you do! And one day I’d love to get my hands on ‘A guide to the Graphic Arts department’ or even better, meet the guys (Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima) behind the design – if anyone wants to make this happen, thanks….
As I’m sure you can tell – we had a great day. As it’s something we’re probably only going to do once, we made the most of it and didn’t rush so it took us about 4 hours to see everything. I don’t really care if loving Harry Potter makes me ‘uncool’ because if I hadn’t picked up the books I wouldn’t have discovered my love for reading and anything that helps children read is cool in my books 😉
Have you been to the Warner Bros studio? What did you think? Did you share in my appreciation for the graphics?