Virtual Tour Video & Barbican/Gatehouse

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If so, you’ve probably already seen that I posted a new work-in-progress virtual tour of my Prisoner of Azkaban Hogwarts model last week. If you haven’t subscribed yet…get on that! I’m not currently posting a lot of videos, but subscribing will make sure you know when I do.

But that’s not our main focus for today. Today we’re going to be continuing with progress after that video, building the structure from the first two films that corresponds to the gatehouse and barbican at Alnwick Castle.

As I’ve mentioned before, the filming miniature and the real location don’t always match up perfectly. I’m aiming more for the miniature, but it’s a lot easier to find reference for the real thing, so I’m having to rely on that to fill in the gaps. Here, I’ve got the basic structure of just the gatehouse built:

(This is where Neville zooms upward again on his broom before nearly impaling himself on a statue’s spear.)

Next come details on the façade facing the training grounds – windows, arrowslits, lanterns, and of course the classic Hogwarts-style torches that were added as temporary set dressing for the film shoot. The one on the right is the one that Neville’s robes catch on, slowing his fall a bit:

Note that this is a view you couldn’t have seen in any of the movies – it simultaneously shows the gatehouse (from the first two films) and the clock tower (from all but the first two films). If you looked at this angle during SS or COS, there’d be no castle visible in the background, and if you looked at this angle from POA onward…well, you’d be underground.

I should also mention that I have zero good shots of this side of the structure in the miniature, so here I’m going purely off of the real thing. Same goes for that small tower toward the left, which I haven’t detailed yet in the above render. Let’s rectify that, and add the similar tower on the other side of the gatehouse:

The flying and Quidditch lessons in Sorcerer’s Stone were both shot on location here, and these towers are seen pretty clearly, so I have no reservations about mimicking the real thing without knowing what they looked like in the miniature.

If this doesn’t look…right, it may be because Alnwick Castle is lighter, yellower, and more contrasty than the miniature. But I’m just using my main castle texture, which is based off of the most neutrally-lit photos of the miniature I’ve found. Also, this area is in direct sunlight in the film, not the shade. Plus, you know, the ground is still missing.

Anyway, on the outside of the gatehouse, let’s start adding the barbican. At the real Alnwick Castle, this was added to the gatehouse around the 14th or 15th century, greatly enhancing the castle’s defenses. I’ve had trouble finding reference for a few spots along the battlements, but this old 3D digital survey I found was helpful.

These areas in my model have really become a hybrid between the miniature and the real location:

Not too shabby! I wouldn’t want someone throwing boiling water on me from those battlements.

The part of this structure that was tweaked the most for the miniature was the entrance of the barbican. In the real world, the area outside the archway appears to be a paved semicircle, a small car park, and then the street. In centuries past, this would have been the only entrance to the grounds – basically just a really beefed-up, defensible drawbridge. But at Hogwarts, this isn’t an entrance at all. The terrain drops off pretty steeply, and so the area outside the archway is just a small terrace with no apparent purpose beyond being a lookout point. (They also swapped out the Percy lion heraldry over the archway for the Hogwarts crest, but that’s barely visible.)

If none of that is sounding familiar, it’s because it’s only seen indistinctly from great distances, and only on rare occasions, and only in the first two films, and only from the side. But blueprints and behind-the-scenes photos provide just enough insight to allow us to simulate cool new views like this:

It might look slightly more familiar from the side:

Any better? You could be forgiven for still not recognizing it. This is about the best view of the barbican exterior we ever get in the movies:

And you can’t even see the gatehouse there! So…yeah, not Hogwarts’s most distinctive feature. Still, it’s good to have it complete! Well…complete with the exception of the statues that stand on top of the ramparts. But those are full-on human figures, and I haven’t yet decided whether to sculpt them from scratch, adapt them from free models posted online, or omit them altogether.

Maybe I’ll have an answer in the next post. In the meantime, have a great weekend! Or week, or whatever, since clearly I don’t control when you’re going to be reading this.

46 thoughts on “Virtual Tour Video & Barbican/Gatehouse

  1. It’s crazy watching things really start to come together now, and it’s helped a lot with my map project. Lots of ideas like sticking the old film1/2 sunken terrace at the back of the quad over the ravine between the quad and the clock tower. The Barbican’s so good to see back on the model, especially in a post-film1/2 context!

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  2. I love this section of the castle/training grounds and you’ve done a really good job with it.
    I was wondering though; what sections of Hogwarts change between Deathly Hallows and Crimes of Grindlewald? In the video, you mentioned that you were going to make them separate versions but as far as I can tell there are none. I would really appreciate it if you could share them. Thanks

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    1. For the longest time I thought they were identical, but I believe a few windows and roofs changed slightly. Really subtle stuff; I might not even bother. I want to say the differences were in the viaduct entrance area but I don’t have it handy right now to check.

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    2. Seconded, actually; I’d love to find out what changes they made, having always just assumed it was pretty much the same model from DH Pt. II!

      On a different note, I have to say that the barbican has immediately jumped from being a part of the castle I honestly never even spotted to one of my favourite unsung sections after this post. I love the little lookout area (didn’t somebody nickname it the Prefect’s Sunbathing Terrace?) and the detailing in the roof; and it’s kind of even cooler when you think that almost nobody even knows it was there. Fantastic job with the replication as always.

      Oh, and the video was so much fun to watch – love these kinds of model tours, and I really hope you do some more of them as the model nears completion! It’s so much easier to grasp where all the different elements sit in relation to each other when you’re swooping around it in realtime, and the commentary was great – didn’t know that the DADA tower is so named because of a shot in Goblet! I’ll have to be on the lookout for that next time.

      And if you were serious about building the Universal Studios version of the castle at some point in the future, that is completely awesome and I can’t wait. It’s such a beautiful, clever, ingeniously unique piece of architecture, and I’d love to see your trademark deep dive into the nooks and crannies of how it was all put together.

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      1. Actually, it’s stranger and more subtle than I remembered – the changes are only there in some shots, but not others. It just has to do with window size and placement on the side of the viaduct entrance.

        And yes, I’m definitely serious about building the Universal version! In fact, it’s the version I’m currently most excited to start. (Probably has something to do with pandemic-induced theme park withdrawals…) But I’m probably not going to tackle it till I’ve done some of the later movie versions, since the Universal version is based most closely on HBP.

        I’d love to be able to tackle the queue interiors, too, but so far I haven’t found any blueprints of the queue and I don’t know if photogrammetry will cut it.

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  3. What a cute feature of the castle! I’m in love.

    I’m also so very grateful I get to read these posts of yours. I’d consider myself a fan. Thank you!

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  4. Amazing work. I was sad to see this part removed in POA. What reference do you have for the Hogwarts crest replacing a lion? Are there shots of that side of the early miniature?

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  5. Thanks for the amazing recent updates! It’s looking really good. I was looking through some 4K HP videos and was looking for certain shots. So, for the castle from HP2, the right side of the Entrance Hall has definitely a window, at least one. Here are some snapshots:
    https://ibb.co/qNFjgxf
    https://ibb.co/4K3PbBY
    https://ibb.co/YjKfT2W
    The shots are still not the best but it’s something.

    I came across this site which tried to make a detailed kist of all the unreleased deleted scenes, it’s pretty interesting to see what the movie could have been, and where some scenes could have been shot.
    https://www.harrypotterdatabase.com/blog/2020/8/18/harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone-deleted-and-unreleased-scenes
    https://www.harrypotterdatabase.com/blog/2020/11/26/harry-potter-and-the-chamber-of-secrets-deleted-and-unreleased-scenes
    https://www.harrypotterdatabase.com/blog/2021/01/10/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban-deleted-and-unreleased-scenes

    I also saw your youtube videos and it’s really cool to see it all coming around!
    I don’t know if it’s possible but would like to do some time a POV video through the outside walkways and the grounds? Thanks for all the posts!

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    1. Yeah, it’s hard to find any clearer shots of that wall. Maybe someday!

      And yeah, a POV video would be fun! I’ll probably wait till I’ve got the grounds more finished, though.

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  6. What reference did you use for the roofs of the gatehouse and the smaller towers? I don’t recall ever clearly seeing those in the movies. Or is that more based on Alnwick?

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      1. Off-topic, but where did you get your references for the proportions of the quad to do with the slope and width of the roofing?

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      2. I am BEGGING you to do the inner quad courtyard soon. it looks rlly painful. how on earth are you gonna do it?

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      3. Painful is a good word for the quad, haha! There’s just so little reference material for the early versions, and the bit that I’ve got is inconsistent. So…honestly I couldn’t tell ya how I’m going to approach that area yet. I keep hoping to find some photos that make it all make sense!

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      4. Well, to add to the whole quad thing (because it won’t let me reply to the specific comment), surely there must be some individuals you can get in contact with who are regularly up and close with the model. You know, those who work at warner bros, who perhaps clean the thing. They must be dusting it frequently enough considering how many take the tour. And, didn’t they say they literally use kitchen sieves and vacumes to apply and remove the ‘snow’ each year? SURELY there is someone you can beg to take a quick picture of the quad area during said operations. Have you asked any former members of staff even (probably teenagers lol) if they know anyone who partook in the cleaning process who could possibly snap you a pic?

        But I’m a dreamer lol.

        Anyways, do you know what’s underneath this thing? I always imagined through one of the courtyards there would be a trap door for easy access lol.

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      5. The trouble with the quad is that the version in the miniature is the one from Goblet of Fire onward. I have a much better understanding of that version. So while it would be insanely cool to get some shots from inside it, I wouldn’t want anyone to risk their jobs on my behalf, especially when I already have a good sense of what *that* quad looks like.

        The first three films are a lot trickier, quad-wise. To make a long story short, it’s bad enough that the reference images are extremely hard to find…but to make matters worse, the images don’t seem to agree with each other. Particularly puzzling is the overhead shot in COS, in which the quad level is significantly lower than anything else I’ve seen. (I never would have noticed this except that I’ve pulled photogrammetry from that shot.)

        As for underneath the miniature…here’s what Cinefex magazine (issue 93, for Chamber of Secrets) has to say:

        “Jose Granell reworked the 1/24-scale model for the sequel to make it more modular, affording greater flexibility in shot setups. ‘We cut the model into sections,’ said Granell, ‘and put a dedicated lighting system into each building. We also gave each building or major piece of a building its own dedicated landscape. Then we put the pieces on wheels with adjustable legs so we could level them as we connected them.’ Another refinement was an open steel framework that replaced the grates of blocks and styrofoam that had supported the model originally. ‘Throughout the shoot, technicians were climbing in and out to move lighting and reset fiber optic systems, so they needed more room to maneuver and to escape in case of fire.'”

        I don’t have any quotes about the current state of things, so I don’t know how much has changed under there, but you can see some of it coming together in this old Studio Tour promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etk3pl6uyII

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      6. Well that’s upsetting. I expect you’ve already sent a strongly worded letter or two to Stuart Craig lol.
        It’s so strange in my mind how little is known about the design of these models. Perhaps a ‘call to action’ in one of your posts begging those who have any insider information to come forward will have some sort of effect. Maybe you will get your mysterious quad photograph. Maybe, in fact, it might do you some good to stray away from the earlier models and focus on a build of the castle better documented – for your mental health lol.

        Keep up the good work!

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      7. Haha, I haven’t reached out to Mr. Craig. I’ve emailed a few other folks who were involved in the early model builds but I’m afraid I haven’t received many responses.

        I’ll definitely be tackling the later versions at some point, but I’m trying to stick mainly to the first three films right now, POA in particular. I think it’ll be easier in the long run if I don’t jump into the later models prematurely. I also have quite a soft spot for the early versions. I can see why Stuart Craig prefers his later iterations from a design perspective, but there’s something I really dig about the funkier, more organic look in the earlier films.

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      8. What reference do you have for the earlier quad interior that conflicts with the shot in COS? Seeing as though that’s one of the only pieces of reference material I know of for that section of the castle.

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      9. I suppose it’s not so much that the references are contradictory…they just don’t make sense. Like, why on Earth would the quad level be that low? There’d be no point to that walkway through the arch if it doesn’t connect with the quad as it does in the later designs. (It’s also worth noting that the quad is never low like that in the video games, although there are definitely some other inaccuracies.)

        One hypothesis of mine was that the quad was another model composited into that overhead shot, but the parallax was off, which makes it appear deeper than it’s supposed to be. But if that were the case and the quad were actually at the higher level you’d expect, the cloisters would be visible in that sunset (sunrise? can’t remember) establishing shot from COS, and they’re not.

        I guess the surest way forward is just to build that quad deep, since that’s how it appears onscreen. I just really dislike having the arch pathway end in a sudden drop-off with no balustrade or steps down or anything.

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      10. I agree that the quad doesn’t make any sense elevation wise. I doubt this will be of much help, but this is how I interpreted the quad when constructing my COS Hogwarts. I put a balustrade at the end of the big arch and put the quad courtyard at the same elevation as the lowered walkway. I thought that made at least some sense, but I keep wishing for the day that an images surfaces that solves all our problems.

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      11. Perhaps they wanted an overhead shot of a decorated couryard without obstructing the view from outside the quad looking in (through the arch). Lowering it would kill two birds with one stone in this regard. Perhaps they did it also as a quick fix that solved the issue of merging a traditional cloister with a comically large opening that (to my knowledge) doesn’t really exist anywhere in real life.
        On that note, did this feature exist in the PS and POA? Would you also so kindly provide reference as to how low the courtyard goes with regards to an exterior shot featuring windows lol?

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      12. That’s certainly a possibility.

        The only change to that area that I know definitely happened in the first three films was the addition of the hospital wing tower. Then in the fourth film, the current design was settled on. They added the new second archway coming from the new path behind the boathouse, the cloisters were removed, and if the quad level was lower before, it was set to its current position by this point.

        According to my photogrammetry, the quad ground level in that overhead COS shot is right about the same level as the balcony on the west outer facade, the one that disappeared in POA to make room for the clock tower. I never really made that connection before, but it makes me feel better about the quad actually being that low originally.

        And come to think of it, the low Gloucester-style windows on the outer south facade disappeared in OOTP…those are around that same level. Maybe they realized it made less sense to have windows that low once the quad level was raised? Hmmm…

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  7. I feel like everyone comes to you as some sort of wise buddha-man/google figure when it comes to questions about the design features of Hogwarts…. and I’m sorry for that…. but at the same time would you kindly enlighten me as to why in this blueprint of the school the west body of the quad seems to be so much wider than it should be/is in the real model?

    Also, where in the hell does that conversation between the grey lady and harry potter take place in the last movie??

    Thank you very much!

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    1. Haha it’s all good, I don’t mind. I wouldn’t be spending all this time on this project if I didn’t find all this stuff fascinating!

      That drawing of the quad is mystifying, isn’t it? Sadly, I don’t know the answer. Maybe it’s not be the final revision of the drawing? Also, there’s at least one SS/PS-era floor plan with a similar inaccuracy; maybe that was accidentally replicated somehow? Not sure.

      The Grey Lady question is easier to answer: that spot simply doesn’t exist in the overall castle model. As far as I can tell, they designed it specifically for that scene, and they did so without trying to fit it into the existing castle design. So it continues the tradition of architectural impossibilities that goes back all the way to the first film, haha!

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      1. Ok, so I can’t reply to your other comment so I’m doing it here.

        I’m sorry I couldn’t explain better in my other comment, I was on mobile. My problem is that I believe that according to logic, the western corridor needs to be as wide as is in the blueprints in order to work in PS/CoS.

        In CoS, we see this shot establishing that the suspension bridge entrance is connected to this tower:
        (Idk how to link an image so I’ve got a link to a video of establishing shots)
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBAeOTHtZVg – go to 0:16 for the shot; if you look at the top left you should see the tower I’m talking about.

        There’s also this shot from a previous post of yours: https://hogwarts4dhome.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/1-ss-model-28.jpg – the tower I mean should be behind Griffindor Tower.
        These show that the suspension bridge entrance is in the flat topped tower behind Gryffindor tower.

        This tower sticks off the sector of the quad’s north face that extends further than the rest of the corridor (again no images so I’ve been forced to be creative)

        Western Corridor
        __ (sticks out further) __
        / \________________/ \ /__________ Griffyndor Tower
        \___ | |__ / \
        | |__
        | ______ _ \ /_________ SB entrance Tower
        | | | | \ __ / \
        | | | |
        | |______| |

        As you can hopefully see, the SB entrance should stick off the eastern face of the western corridor; the other side of the corridor than Griffindor Tower. There should be a gap between both towers which means that the western corridor should be wider than the rest of the corridors in order for SB entrance to not overlap Gryffindor Tower. The only thing is, as you’ve mentioned, it shouldn’t be this wide, right? I mean, in most of the official blueprints, the corridor widths are all uniform. I get the feeling that the wide corridor wasn’t a mistake as far as PS/CoS are concerned. As for DH though, I have no clue as it should be uniform from POA onwards…

        Sorry that this is so long, it’s just really difficult to explain without images.

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      2. I’m really sorry but I tried to draw a diagram but it obviously didn’t work… I’m out of ideas on how to show what I’m trying to explain

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    2. I know this wasn’t aimed at me but I thought I’d add my two cents.

      The wider corridor in the western part of the quad is a bit troubling for me because I have tried to design a floor plan for PS Hogwarts without the wider corridor but it doesn’t give enough room for the tower that acts as the suspension bridge entrance to hang off the corner of the quad (next to gryffindor tower). It’s supposed to hang off the corner of the corridor that sticks out further than the rest of the quad (idk how to attach an image to explain what I’m trying to describe while I’m on my phone, sorry).

      The point is that both towers don’t fit on the quad in an accurate way unless that part of the quad is as wide as it shows in the blueprints.

      I do think that the quad’s width should be uniform for POA onwards though.

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      1. Hmm, I’m not totally sure I’m following…but to make sure we’re on the same page, the only thing in question is how far the west corridor extends eastward into the quad. The overall footprint of the building doesn’t change in the blueprints, so the width of the courtyard within shouldn’t affect the suspension bridge area.

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  8. I Get it. Prawnut Butter is Trying to replicate the first version of the castle, in that one the suspension bridge is farther West than the later version, right in front of the gryffindor girls tower. In this case He can only advance his work based on this floor plan.

    https://scontent.ffnc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/117710992_10223879107784734_8745878272814723004_o.jpg?_nc_cat=100&ccb=3&_nc_sid=825194&_nc_ohc=u0oIK8Jic1AAX_I8vvc&_nc_ht=scontent.ffnc1-1.fna&oh=2b39537691aebe180eab1bfa5fde7c42&oe=6065412E

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    1. Yeah man, thank you! I had no idea how to put it into words, plus I have no idea how to insert pictures

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    2. I’m feeling rather dense…I still don’t understand why the wider interior courtyard would be a problem for the girls’ tower and suspension bridge, which are on the outside of the quad structure and unrelated to whatever’s going on with the courtyard inside…right? (And Prawnut Butter, there’s no way for me to allow images to be hosted in reader comments, so if you want to post something, you’d have to upload it to another site of your choice and then include the link in your comment.)

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      1. Thanks about the pictures…
        With the western corridor being widened in this floor plan, the griffyndor tower and the girls tower can’t fit on that section of the quad, with the corridor sticking out

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  9. Oh, that’s not what happened when I tried that out on my minecraft project…maybe I’ve made the corridors too thin
    I’m sorry, this must’ve been so frustrating for you…

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    1. No, I like chatting about this stuff, and I’m certainly not omniscient with regards to Hogwarts…I appreciate all the help I can get in making this model accurate!

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      1. What I understood was that he wanted to connect the courtyard of the Quad with the suspension bridge in a direct way, and by making the western wall with the same thickness, he would get the tunnel intercepted with a corner of the Courtyard in a very strange way. It was only my interpretation, I had this idea years ago.

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