Live Design Excellence Awards – Architainment

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter offers visitors a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the most successful film series of all time. The 150,000 sq. foot attraction, located at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, gives fans an unprecedented opportunity to tour several of the original Harry Potter film sets, as well as see many of the iconic costumes, creatures and props from the films. Thinkwell, a full-service design and production firm based in Burbank, Calif., collaborated with Warner Bros. and the filmmakers to conceive, design and produce the tribute, which is the only permanent attraction of its kind in the world.

Warner Bros. wanted to find the best use for the unique artifacts and assets (sets, costumes, props, creatures and effects) created for the Harry Potter films, because such care, skill and attention to detail went into crafting them. The goals were to create a permanent home for the beloved iconography from the eight blockbuster films, to display the amazing craftsmanship of thousands of crew members who spent a decade at Leavesden Studios creating the amazing films and to showcase the art of filmmaking.

The attraction uses a combination of theatrical, museum display, and architectural equipment and methods to display and describe both the film artifacts as well as the “story” of how they were created and used. This includes centralized AV playback operating under the control of a “show control” system. The challenge was to create an audio environment that was appropriate for the attraction yet authentic to the films. The team, led by Thinkwell sound, video and control designer Vikram Kirby,was also tasked with isolating the audio for the various sets and displays, which have no physical separation between them. To accomplish this, Thinkwell designed a cross-point matrix to shape how different adjacent sounds blended together in the speakers that were dividing the zones.

The attraction also has a distributed lighting system, designed by Thinkwell lighting designer and facility project manager, Michael Finney, using energy efficient display-grade architectural and “theatrical” LED lighting. Lighting control is via two ETC Eos Remote Processor Units, while a Medialon show controller calls up macros on the Eos. operating under a central control system. Many of the sets on the tour feature lighting cues that change based on the time of day, including Diagon Alley, which gives fans both an afternoon and an evening look; as well as the Hogwarts Castle model, which sees the sun moving across the model in an abbreviated (5 ½ minutes) 24-hour cycle.

Finally, distributed “point of use” interactive computer stations allow the guests to select and use content at the display locations. For example, in the finale of the tour, guests can explore the 55-foot by 55-foot miniature used for exterior shots of the Hogwarts Castle, with interactive screens positioned around the ramp, allowing them to zoom into details of the model through a series of unprecedented 9000 x 9000 pixel images.

Equipment List:

    Microsoft Office Suited (Word, Excel, Project)
    Keynote
    AutoCAD
    Revit
    Sketchup
    Lightwright
    Photoshop
    3D Studio Max
    Maya
    Medialon
    ETC EOS
    Logic Pro
    Snapper
    Reaper
    Final Cut Pro
    London Architect
    Figure53 QLab
    After Effects 5.5
    Avid Media Composer
    Compressor
    GET

Credits:

    Thinkwell Group: Exhibit Design and Production, Exhibit Media Design and Production
    Mousetrappe: Exhibit Media – Mapped Projection
    Warner Bros. Burbank and Leavesden Studios: Potter Consultants, Exhibit Construction, Props and Set Dressing, Costumes, Creatures
    Lee Warren Fabrication and Design Ltd: Exhibit Ramps and Railings
    Electrosonic UK: Exhibit Audio/Visual
    Hall Stage, Ltd UK: Exhibit Flying Cinema Screen
    White Light, Ltd UK: Exhibit Lighting Installation
    Cinesite, UK and Magic Model, Inc UK: Exhibit Model Installation
    Stylo Graphics: Exhibit Graphics Printer
    KMG Architects: Architect
    dna Architects: Architect
    Hoare Lea Engineers: Engineering Consultants

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