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HARRY POTTER AND
THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

About The Special Effects
The challenge of creating many of the fantastical creatures who inhabit the world of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets fell to visual effects supervisors Jim Mitchell (Jurassic Park III, Sleepy Hollow, Mighty Joe Young) and Nick Davis (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Pluto Nash, Entrapment) and the talented artisans at ILM.

"With Jim and Nick, we found a team that really understands what I call the reality of visual effects," Chris Columbus remarks. "They understand our desire to transport people to a place they've never been before, but at the same time, make certain that they absolutely believe what they are seeing."

Mitchell, Davis and their team are responsible for rendering approximately 950 shots in the film, bringing to life such characters as Dobby the House Elf, the Basilisk, the Cornish Pixies and the Spiders (with the exception of Aragog). "From the very beginning, Chris was quite keen not to use a puppet and to create Dobby through CGI," Davis explains.

"Dobby is a major character in this story, and Chris wanted to be able to direct him just like any other actor in a scene, which is more thoroughly achieved through CGI," adds Mitchell.

"I wanted Dobby to be a character that felt very real and one that the audience would fall in love with," Columbus says. "Jim and Nick created an adorable character who feels like he genuinely inhabits this special world."

Also working alongside the visual effects team in the creation of this magical world is creature effects supervisor Nick Dudman, who devised all-too-tangible incarnations of the Petrified people, Fawkes the Phoenix, the Basilisk, the Mandrakes and…arachnophobes beware…Aragog, an ancient spider the size of a small elephant!

"Aragog represented a significant challenge to the Creature department," Dudman explains, "as we were asked to create a walking, talking nine-foot spider with an 18 foot leg span. Each leg had to be manipulated by a different team member, and the whole contraption operated on a complex combination of aquatronics [pneumatic air rams] and a series of computers with video monitors. The entire creature weighed three quarters of a ton!"

"Nick Dudman's creature shop did a stunning job with Aragog," says Columbus, who attests that creating the giant arachnid was one of the most challenging aspects of bringing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to the screen. "I'm delighted that the scenes involving the spiders are incredibly frightening and some of the scariest of the film."

Apparently, Aragog was just as fearsome in the flesh. "I remember the first shot we did in the Spiders Hollow," Daniel Radcliffe remembers. "Rupert and I went over this ledge and suddenly there's a gigantic spider waiting for us! It was so realistic, we were both genuinely terrified!"

As Columbus emphasizes, he didn't rely on the visual and special effects departments to merely create new characters for Chamber of Secrets – he also wanted to perfect elements established in the first film, particularly the frenetically-paced game of Quidditch. "I felt that the backgrounds could be more integrated with the foregrounds," Columbus muses, "so this time we made certain that the lighting of the game was an identical match with the atmosphere outside the Quidditch stadium. We made the whole stadium feel a little more weathered, a little earthier. And we've also managed to perfect the speed and the movement of the players, making it a much tougher and more exciting game."

Three-time Academy Award winning prod

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