Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke Talks “Potter”

Feb 24, 2011

Posted by: John Admin

Crew Interviews

Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke has given a new interview to StudioDaily in which he talks about his work on the Harry Potter films.

Burke spoke about the challenges he’s faced in both “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” and the films as a whole, naming hippogriffs as “an incredible challenge to pull off”. The VFX supervisor further voiced his disappointment about what Grawp looked like in the sixth film.

On the move towards a combination of partial sets and digital sets:

For Part 2, we’ve done away with Hogwarts. It was such a major job to stage the battle of Hogwarts, and we had to do it in different stages of production. We had shots with complex linking camera moves from wide overviews, to flying into windows and interior spaces. So we took the plunge at the end of 2008 and started rebuilding the school digitally with Double Negative. It’s taken two years ’ getting renders out, texturing every facet of the building, constructing interiors to see through windows, building a destruction version of the school. We can design shots with the knowledge that we have this brilliant digital miniature that we can do anything with.

How changes in technology have affected Burke’s role as visual effects supervisor:

It’s dawning on me that supervisor is the wrong name. Given the level of what we do now, we’re directing the effects and to direct the effects, you have to understand what the director wants. It’s like composing music. David [Yates] uses words to describe things that are not visual. Ridley Scott draws sketches that I can almost hold up at the end of the day and say we did what he wanted. David is more enigmatic. He would say, “The horcrux needs to be malevolent.” So you have to take a big leap. You have to get inside his head to know how to interpret that. Sometimes, you have to know how to interpret silence. Maybe silence isn’t a good thing. And I had three producers to interpret, too.

On the end of the Potter films:

We were on our own in a building that was being knocked down because Warners is turning it into a film complex. We left just before Christmas. I took a tour before the end. The sets were overgrown with weeds. I watched the diggers come in. The reality of leaving the studio where we made the films and seeing it knocked down was so sad. Now, I can’t think about it. I’m sure I will come summer, though, when I’m looking for real work. Hopefully, someone will say they’re starting up in the fall and I can take the summer off.

On “Deathly Hallows: Part 2”:

I think it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride. There’s an incredible pace to it. The audience won’t be able to take a breath. I hope it will be spectacular, as exciting as everyone expects.

Find the full interview at this link.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.