0 Crew Members
Overall VFX Supervisor
Rodeo FX Crew
Mélanie La Rue
Our work on the Harry Potter prequel includes many featured creatures and their environments, the magical reconstruction of a destroyed room, and MACUSA – the elaborate headquarters of the wizarding world.
Reconstruction of Jacob’s apartment
After escaping from Newt’s suitcase, the beasts destroy Jacob’s apartment, which Newt rebuilds using magic. Our team was challenged to simulate the reconstruction with more digital wizardry of our own.
Starting with an environment full of debris, dust, and flying rubble, our artists reverted the action by pulling the pieces back together. Rather than reversing the simulated destruction, we recreated each broken asset individually, defining its trajectory and velocity as the room is reassembled so that it looks like magic at work.
MACUSA’s Magically Concealed Atrium
Filmed in three sections, we re-projected the plates onto CG geometry and completely rebuilt the exterior and most of the interior, retaining only the main characters. We took inspiration for the pop-up transformation from magical architectural transformations in the Harry Potter films.
As the building splits apart, new features sprout out. We sampled the plate going into the transition, and built all the vertical floors of the Woolworth and MACUSA buildings from the production two-story soundstage set, expanding Stuart Craig’s environment to vertiginous proportions.
Assembling a Creature Pipeline
We designed every creature within their unique environment and gave them realistic features. Our team faced the challenge of mixing diverse anatomical features and traits to invent combinations unknown in real animals.
For the creature’s escape from the suitcase, our team replicated the suitcase in CG to assist creature interactions, and animated the Murtlap, a small rodent creature, wrecking the apartment. The Murtlap design left a lot to interpretation. It resembled a hairless guinea pig with a sea anemone on its back. We used elements of real animals to design the Murtlap’s anatomy and motion, and that set the style for how we approached all our creatures.
Our team generated a herd of Mooncalves, which resemble a small goat with an elongated neck that compresses like a turtle. We gave them huge eyeballs with massive irises so it felt like they were constantly staring. We had about 30 Mooncalves in our busiest shot, which we created with variations in textures and which were each animated individually by hand.
We also generated a flock of eight-limbed flying creatures, Doxies, that flitter around floating lamps. Our team animated 100 lamps, each lamp made up of an old light bulb that contains glow-worms. This moody scene was a challenge to not blow out the exposure and required a balance between light emissions and structural lighting on the characters. We calculated all the shading for the lamps, then multiplied through their refractions and reflections.
Our team also animated an encounter with a Nundu, a large feral cat with a startling defense mechanism. The Nundu is a giant furless tiger with a mane made of loose flesh covered in spikes. When it roars, the neck puffs up like the Japanese fugu – a pufferfish. It was complex geometry-wise and took nine months to build for four seconds of screen time.
Our other creatures include a family of Diricawl, a dodo hen and chicks, with tendencies to spontaneously appear and disappear, and a gathering of Grindylows – vicious water sprites, seen in the fourth Harry Potter film. We adapted the Harry Potter Grindylow, added definition and rebuilt the model. The Grindylow environment was a cube of water trapped in a net. We filled the water cage with Grindylows and added a transition, from one environment to another, where a hero Grindylow escapes inside a zero-g water bubble.