The POA Clock Tower Approaches Completion

More staircase stuff to come, but for now, back to the main project! With my clock tower photogrammetry in place, I was able to finish up the clock tower’s entryway, again relying more on shots of the set than shots of the miniature, since that area is really only visible from above or from within the courtyard. Fortunately, the sets seem to match the miniature pretty well here. Even though the miniature as currently installed at Leavesden has the doors closed and portcullis down, I decided to keep mine nice and open. My Hogwarts is a welcoming, friendly place. Just look at all the people.

Awkward. Well, anyway, the details look cool, but it’s hard to see beyond the archway; it gets darker in the shadows. Let’s crank up the exposure a little and move beneath the arch to take in all this stuff that we’ll rarely see otherwise!

The actual interior is still dark and boring, but there’ll soon be big windows on the other side of the room.

Let’s talk about those doors, by the way. John Williams wrote a cue for the scene in which they’re locked to secure the school, and he called it “The Big Doors”. He wasn’t kidding. They’re HUGE – around 67 or 68 feet tall, by my estimation. I’m sure they only built the bottom portion for the set, but in the miniature, they just go up and up and up. Imagine the weight…imagine trying to open or close them by hand…

Anyway, the next step was to add windows on the other faces of the clock tower, as well as the details on the dormers along the roof. (Fortunately, these seem to be very similar or identical to the ones on the roof of the Defense Against the Dark Arts building, which I’ve already created, so this didn’t take long.)

With those finished, there are precisely three details left to add to the clock tower: the big window in the back, a small arch at one of the corners, and another door at another corner. Oh, and probably the clock pendulum, too. So four. But I can’t find good reference for the big window, and there’s no point in putting in the pendulum till I have the big window to silhouette it against…and the placement of the arch and door will depend on the placement of the courtyard, and I’m not going to build the courtyard till I’ve built the ruined fountain in the middle. (No sense in enclosing the courtyard and then having to constantly hide pieces to build the stuff inside.) So the fountain is up next!

Clock Tower Progress & Courtyard Photogrammetry

Let’s continue with the Prisoner of Azkaban clock tower! I created the columns and elaborate moulding below the clock. As you can see in this “work in progress” render, everything was still separate from the building at this point:

But as these areas became more complete, I began placing them correctly along the building. I also discovered some issues with how I’d built the facade last year, so I decided to simply redo some of it altogether. Below, you can see some of the old walls removed for replacement as I maneuvered the new elements into position:

I resisted the urge to simplify some of these details, and I’m glad I did. The results were worth it the effort! This has become one of the most detailed areas of the model so far, mostly because the original design has a lot of details, but also because the available reference material is so good. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have detail drawings for most of the castle…everything would take so much longer if I could get this precise with everything:

Fun fact, by the way: see that arch at the bottom of the last render? In the miniature, it’s just got open air behind it, but they created a full-sized set for a shot in Order of the Phoenix, and in that version, it’s actually a balcony. (Umbridge and Filch are standing up there.) They don’t appear to have changed the miniature; I’m going to leave the balcony out.

Moving downward, we arrive at this lovely Gothic pediment that frames the entryway. No technical drawings for this one, so I had to just rely on as many reference images as I could find. Shots of this spot on the miniature are virtually impossible to get in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, so most of my references are actually from the corresponding set, and some of the details can vary between the sets and the miniatures. Anyway, the modeling process looked much like building the arches above, so I won’t bore you with too many in-progress shots:

I also discovered how good Blender’s denoising has gotten, which means I can drastically speed up my renders. My poor machine only chugged for 15 minutes or so on these images, rather than an hour or more.

Anyway, as I got to the very bottom of the tower, where it meets the courtyard, I started feeling the need for more data. So I went on another photogrammetry spree, trying to create meshes from every possible shot of the courtyard/clock tower set in the film. (There are a lot of them!) Accuracy and precision are very important to me with this project – partly just so I know I’m getting something close to the “real thing”, and partly because I know from past experience that small errors have a way accumulating. You estimate the height of object B on object A, and then you estimate the height of object C on object B, etc., and before you know it, lots of small inaccuracies begin to add up…and sooner or later, those will clash noticeably with other estimations elsewhere on the model.

I’d like to avoid that, which is why I ended up with over a dozen photogrammetry meshes (with different lighting and even different seasons) thrown together to get a more complete picture of the courtyard!

Ugly, yes, but very helpful as I prepare to complete the clock tower and start on the courtyard.

P.S. Don’t let me forget to finish the hospital wing.

P.P.S. Happy belated Mother’s Day!