MyLeaky Login

Join the largest Harry Potter Social Network on the Web! | FAQ

In the News

Sparking Fire in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

HBP Film
Posted by: Edward
July 25, 2009, 12:03 AM

The July issue of Post Magazine, a trade resource for editors of video and film, features a cover story regarding the creation of a number of elements used in the cave scene in the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film.  One element, fire, was a particular difficult special effect to create, the article explains. Noting that the sequence encompasses "complex compositions of live actors, greenscreen, CG characters, environment, simulated natural phenomena and simulated fantasy phenomena," this article goes in to much detail about the work Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) put into the creation of the fiery climax of the film, relating the many steps in the process.  Tim Alexander, a VFX supervisor on the film for ILM, relates the fact that the sequence "chewed up a great deal of our time and energy. Fire's pretty difficult and we didn't have a solid solution for it."  He goes on to say, "You have to have such a high density of particles to create the detail that you need in fire that it very quickly becomes unwieldy and slow... We still did a particle sim, but it's a very low particle-count, like fuel flying around in the air, just to tell us where it's going to burn." This process, a creation of ILM dubbed the Verte engine, the article goes on to describe it as:

Horvath's engine calculated how the particles would burn "but he does it in two-dimensional slices so he can do very high-resolution simulations very quickly," Alexander says. The fire effect's 3D volume is "sliced" like a loaf of bread, focusing on the X and Y dimensions, but not the Z axis. "You can get really nice detail around the edges of the fire and you can get speed out of it because you're not worrying about depth."
Since the fire itself is moving, the particles move from slice to slice in 3D. "If you look at a fire, it's actually pretty difficult to tell how deep it is. By piling up a bunch of slices together, you still get dimensionality to it but you're giving your time and energy to the screen space, where you need it, like the edges of the flame where you want to see those little licks.
The story continues, relating the many people and processes involved in creating such a intensive special effect.  Additionally, the article speaks to the creation of the Inferi, which were created to "not look like grotesque zombies — rather, they appear very skinny and sickly and make Gollum seem like a he was on steroids."  A decision by director David Yates, the article goes on to speak of the process of creating these creatures, and the live-action and CGI production of the underwater scene. 

The full cover story article in Post Magazine, covering the many parts of the creation of special effects in Half-Blood Prince, can be read right here.

Many thanks to Wayne for owling!

Previous Article | Next Article Browse all Recent HBP Film News

62 Comments

Avpm_15_by_cuttlefishbella_thumb
4630 Points

The fire looked so real , I loved it!!

But, I can’t understand the whole CGI scientific talk, so I’ll stay away :]

Posted by Live Laugh Love Potter ♥ROAR♥ on July 25, 2009, 10:36 AM report to moderator
Tumblr_lof6suzoya1qzaf17o4_250_thumb
1642 Points

Everything with the fire looked amazing! – Burrow and the cave- just simply amazing!

Posted by Matea on July 25, 2009, 10:37 AM report to moderator
Normal_hp_actors_thumb
439 Points

One of the best scences in the movie.

Posted by CandyCane2304 on July 25, 2009, 11:24 AM report to moderator
Hbp_promo_officialposter_01_thumb
420 Points

i loved that scene, i thought it was quite emotional (even tho i already knew that dumbledore was going to die). the fire and water together looked very real so well done to those guys at ILM!

Posted by StefanM94[WBM!] on July 25, 2009, 11:44 AM report to moderator
Piercing2_thumb
462 Points

those Inferi man…. freaking beautifully scary!
Great great job with everything fx too, each time it gets better and better… with producing (David Heyman! like him) and special fx, acting ans screenplay!!!!
xoxoxoxoxoxo.

Posted by harrypottergirlll on July 25, 2009, 01:12 PM report to moderator
Myleaky_thumb
34 Points

I found the cave scene amazing. The fire was very believable.

Posted by Clicheusername on July 25, 2009, 01:12 PM report to moderator
Kit_thumb
288 Points

That was a heartstopping scene and the fire was stunning! It looked so real. Kudos to the special effects team who made it so terrible and beautiful!

Posted by Fereverto on July 25, 2009, 02:21 PM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
53 Points

When one remembers the old era of superimposing objects on others with the special effects looking like it was just that and todays. WOW!!!!!!!!

Posted by jerseypopopx6 on July 25, 2009, 02:34 PM report to moderator
Normal_harry_potter_7_thumb
50 Points

ya the special effects were awesome

Posted by Gryffindor1997 on July 25, 2009, 03:53 PM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
66 Points

Such a great scene

Posted by MattOM93 on July 25, 2009, 05:37 PM report to moderator
Upclose_of_me_thumb
3271 Points

Wish they told us about all this stuff on the DVDs. I love all the special features on movies…. and I know that the Harry Potter films have a tone of this info.. so why not put more of it on the DVD?

Posted by Half-Blood Princess66[ROAR!] on July 25, 2009, 05:50 PM report to moderator
Creepy_blacksaphiredragon_thumb
221 Points

yea that fire was awesome ! i love CG effects <3

Posted by BlackSaphireDragon [ROAR!] on July 25, 2009, 07:01 PM report to moderator
Screen_shot_2010-06-07_at_7
2939 Points

Sounds really complicated! The effects were great and the hard work really paid off, though.

Posted by Awakened on July 25, 2009, 07:19 PM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
150 Points

That scene scared me – but i knew that a hand was coming out anyways (book) so i was the only one who didnt jump. Haha. But fire was amazing! Good work!

Posted by AndreaB09 on July 25, 2009, 08:49 PM report to moderator
Wicca_thumb
3560 Points

It was amazingly done. Good job, guys!!!

I jumped a foot when that Infiri grabbed his foot. I even knew it was coming.

Posted by Brosia, OoM 2 [WBM] on July 25, 2009, 09:35 PM report to moderator
You must be logged in to MyLeaky to comment. Please click here to log in.

Finding Hogwarts
PotterCast Interviews Jo Rowling! Click here to Listen! The Books Everything...Half-Blood Prince...and the rest of the HP Films Leaky Apps
Learn to knit your own 'Weasley Sweater'. Learn to brew your own 'Butterbeer'. Find out how at Leaky Crafts!

Scribbulus Essay Project

Issue 28 - Jul. 2014

Scribbulus is THE place for Leaky Cauldron readers to submit their essays and opinion pieces!
See more over at Scribbulus!

Guess That Book

"It's not any old broomstick," he said, "it's a Nimbus Two Thousand. What did you say you've got at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty?" Ron grinned at Harry. "Comets look flashy, but they're not in the same league as the Nimbus."