Side Project Complete: SS/COS Grand Staircase

Haha! It’s finished – the version of the grand staircase from the first two Potter films! Join me for a complete video tour!

To get us to this state of completion, I had to add the remaining doorways on the landings:

Then came the big window at the back. Much of the molding is taken directly from that Oxford design I created in the last post. The scene beyond the window is a bit of a cheat…I just did a nighttime render of part of the main castle model, blurred it, and dropped it in like a scenic backdrop in a real set or miniature. It’s not perfect but it gets the job done.

With these elements in place, the only thing remaining was the paintings…but I decided they’d be too much work, I’m omitting them, at least for the time being. They don’t have anything to do with my main purpose (understanding the geometry of the stairs) or my secondary purpose (examining the scale of the space).

Speaking of which, here’s the long-awaited scale comparison between the castle exterior and the grand staircase interior!

They kinda almost fit together at the intended in-universe scale! Of course, if you include all the digital extensions at the top or the extra miniature passes used to extend the bottom, that all goes out the (beautifully mullioned) window. But I think that’s kinda okay.

This concludes my work on this side project…it’s been a fun one! Now back to the main castle model.

12 thoughts on “Side Project Complete: SS/COS Grand Staircase

  1. Yesss it’s finally finished!! 😀 Not only that, we get a video tour? That is just thoroughly excellent, more please.

    I gotta admit, I kind of got chills when you recreated that move up from the entrance into the main stairwell; it just looks so much like the real thing, I love it! Also, I genuinely never realised that the big window is recessed so far back from the main shaft; looks like there were corridors intended to lead off on the left and right, if you crossed directly across the floor? That’s cool, and also makes a lot of sense.

    My favourite bit’s got to be the scale comparison shots, though – they’re awesome, and another never-before-seen gem from this blog! For my money, the scales match up way too closely to be accidental; I reckon Stuart definitely intended the interior and the exterior of the tower to align more or less realistically. Which is just really cool. I love it when part of the castle exterior model clearly inspires an interior set; makes you feel like you can’t quite tell where one ends and the other begins.

    Anyway, incredible job as always – seeing the stairs animate from one state to the other was super cool. (I totally had to stop and Google your SpaceMouse, too – damn, that’s tempting!)

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    1. I definitely intend to do more videos of the main project in the future! I don’t want to do too much in the way of actual grand circle tours before the model is anywhere near complete, but I can still capture some of my process and show some things that are harder to do via still images.

      It’s kind of surprising how far back that window is, isn’t it? The miniature doesn’t seem to have continued very far beyond the sightlines from the main shaft, but it’s certainly reasonable to imagine those passageways leading to ground floor corridors around the quad, for instance. As you said, the scale is close enough that I’d imagine there was some real intentionality on the part of Stuart and his team, even though they had to break scale for some of the other sets.

      Up to you whether you want to invest in a SpaceMouse, but I’ve certainly enjoyed mine. The first time I used one was at the Google campus in about 2009 – they had a “holodeck” there in which you were surrounded by large screens displaying nearly 360 degrees of Google Earth, with a lone SpaceNavigator in the center. (Found an old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W7Z-UN3jXs) It was dizzying and enthralling all at once, and I promptly bought my own SpaceNavigator shortly thereafter – the same one I used for this video, 11 years later!

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    1. It’s honestly just a lot of very persistent Googling, with the occasional assist from fellow enthusiasts. One strategy that’s turned up some useful results is Googling the names of people involved in the model unit (from IMDb).

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  2. Hi Joe,

    I love seeing how much detail you’ve put into this. I’m making my own Hogwarts in another program and was wondering if you could tell me what angle the Great Hall and Entrance Courtyard is at from the Grand Staircase Tower and The Quad? It seems like it’s almost 45 degrees but not quite.

    Thanks!

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  3. This is extremely awesome! It’s so cool to see how much you care about this projects.
    But, does the staircase change in PoA? From what I’ve seen in the movie, it looks pretty much the same, I believe the only thing that changed was the corridor leading to it from the Entrance Hall.

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    1. Thank you! For POA, there definitely were changes to the staircase, but I haven’t studied them in depth. I do know that the design of the big window changed, and it was actually added to the full-size set.

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