I mentioned in my Battle of Polytopia parody article that this concept has been done with so many other pop-culture universes (Super Mario, Pokémon, Skyrim, Legend of Zelda, Breaking Bad, Adventure Time, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings). There is one glaring exception, strangely larger than any of the others: Harry Potter. After Game of Celebs, I knew I had to rectify this.
The project was fun, but I have lost passion for parodying the Game of Thrones intro. So this is likely the last attempt at this theme, but I do think this was the best one.
As Harry Potter’s adventures are confined to Great Britain, I only modelled the island (sorry Ireland, but it’s not visible in the video anyway, I think). It has a striking resemblance to Westeros, which rumour has it is how JRR Martin drew the top half. It also works well with the locations, as I’ll discuss later.
So much of the magic and wonder in Harry Potter happens in moon light, so a heliocentric astrolabe wouldn’t match the atmosphere of the series. Thus I made it “Seleniocentric” (?)… whatever, the moon’s in the middle.
The rotating orbits are now made of parchment, not metal! All the textures are hand drawn by me, based on the Marauder’s map. I found it is quicker to draw something yourself than to spend time looking for something free that works well enough.
The three events depicted on the astrolabe are references to the book sequence:
- An owl dropping a letter (Philosopher’s Stone)
- Tom Riddle’s diary stabbed with a basilisk fang (Chamber of Secrets)
- Harry’s stag Patronus charm (Prisoner of Azkaban)
- The Goblet of Fire (Goblet of Fire… duh)
- The crystal balls in the Ministry of Magic (Order of the Phoenix)
- A cauldron referring to the potions classes (Half-Blood Prince)
- The sign of the Deathly Hallows (Deathly Hallows)
Ministry of Magic
As the capitol of the Wizarding World in Britain (located in London), it is the fitting counterpart to King’s Landing (an allusion to southern rule in London in A Song of Ice and Fire). In the movies, not much can be seen of the building other than endless offices and underground tunnels, located somewhere underground at Whitehall.
I depicted one of the statues, and office-like structures on the corners. I then used a Boolean operator to cut away from the map shape to create the tunnels. Finally, the lid closes on the ministry, revealing the location name, and hiding it in another neo-classical building in London.
Similarly, the cosy, northern location of Winterfell and Hogwarts line up well, the latter of which is canonically located somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. There are many, many 3D models of Hogwarts, as well as maps, so modelling this location wasn’t too difficult, though greatly simplified, as if a toy model).
My favourite touch is the Weasley flying car trapped in the Whomping Willow, a counterpart to the weirwood tree at Winterfell.
Hogsmeade, located north of Hogwarts, and always seen snowy, is the counterpart to the wall. Not much here but a quaint English village.
Though there are a lot of dark locations in Game of Thrones, none really fit with Azkaban, a magical prison located somewhere in the North Sea (maybe the Iron Islands?). It fits well with the video sequencing regardless. The dementors orbiting the prison are also hand drawn on their own scrolls.
King’s Cross Station
A real location! Quite well visited in the series as well. It was modelled simply with the large arches a and barrel-vaulted roof. Note the rotating clock gears, and the Monopoly train-station icon shaped trains waiting on the platforms (unfortunately, not very visible in the video). I tilted the camera to the side, to match the original intro at the locations of Pentos and Vaes Dothrak, whilst looking on at the target (Daenerys looks onto Kings Landing, but Kings Cross Station looks onto Hogwarts).
I attempted to use the physics cloth simulation this time, to match the original intro. However, the effect was strong enough to be visible on the video, particularly as the lighting was quite soft, and the material selected wasn’t shiny enough. In any case, since the video doesn’t shift to overseas locations, the ocean isn’t that prominent.
I kept texturing as simple as possible:
- Nearly everything used a hand-drawn wooden texture, even the rotating gears (with thanks to 3dtextures.me)
- Parchment texture used for the astrolabe and dementors
- Metal textures used for the flying car (to make it look like a Matchbox car)
- Moon texture, with thanks to NASA
- Thick woollen texture for the ocean surface, a counterpart to Game of Thrones’ intro which appears to use flag fabric
- Hand drawings for the astrolabe rings and the dementors circling around Azkaban
Simple lighting was used, mostly a twilight HDRI with a cool sun light (to simulate the Moon). Individual locations were lit with warm point and area lights, to make it look like a cosy night. Azkaban was instead lit with green lights, an ominous colour in Harry Potter.
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good. After getting a copyright claim for adapting the composition of “Game of Thrones” for my Battle of Polytopia video, I knew I had to do something different this time.
“A Song of Wands and Owls”
3/8 time, B minor, 58 bpm
Timbres: Celesta, First and Second Violins, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Clarinet, French Horn, Timpani, Bass and Snare Drums
I almost gave up halfway when making the track. Combining two, quite different musical scores: John William’s iconic “Hedwig’s Theme”, nearly synonymous with Harry Potter, and Ramin Djiwadi’s “Game of Thrones”, was predictably not so simple. Here’s a breakdown of why:
- Hedwig’s Theme is amazing melodically, with many calls and responses. As it’s so famous, splicing the melody and modifying it can be jarring as the brain is predicting the next phrase.
- Hedwig’s Theme is written in 3/8 whilst Game of Thrones” is written in 3/4. Thankfully, both are in threes.
- Instrumentally, Hedwig’s Theme is mostly quiet early on with harp rolls, beautiful string glissandos, and the iconic celesta. Game of Thrones is loud from the beginning with pounding drums and a swelling string section.
- Rhythmically, Hedwig’s Theme is very fluid (an effect I unfortunately could no replicate with MIDI, in particular the flowing strings and harp rolls), whilst Game of Thrones is quite rigid and militaristic.
In the end, I’m mostly happy with the result:
- The intro is quite like Hedwig’s Theme, but the drums slowly kick in where they remain to the end. The motifs from Game of Thrones are spliced with phrases from Hedwig’s Theme, all played on the celesta, the lead instrument.
- The A section is similar to the intro, splicing phrases from both themes, but with a loose-flowing string section now backing the celesta, and horns kicking in half way through.
- The B section is primarily an adapted Hedwig’s Theme melody, extended and varied, but with Game of Thrones melodies played with some of the backing instrument.
- The outro is Game of Thrones, played on all instruments in unison, with the horns thickening and the celesta moved up an octave in the second half.
- The coda is played on the celesta, slightly modified from Game of Thrones’ pizzicato coda.
Mischief managed, hopefully this is unique enough not to be considered a cover track.
In the alternate Eevee render video on my channel, I used Aaron Kenny’s “Happy Haunts” from the YouTube music library. When I thought about abandoning “A Song of Wands and Owls” I liked how this music fit with the video (in particular the Theremin with Azkaban and the Celesta at the end of the video).