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The Mind-Blowing Way Hogwarts Was Actually Filmed In The Harry Potter Movies

Over the course of eight feature films, the "Harry Potter" franchise delivers sights, sounds, and storylines that can only be described as, well, magical. That's obviously quite fitting given the sprawling tales of wizards, witches, and more that these films cover. But every mind-blowing magical sight "Harry Potter" fans witness in these films required a fair amount of special effects wizardry behind the scenes. As most fans of the franchise know, CGI was the special effects technique most frequently utilized in bringing many of the franchise's fantastic beasts and awe-inspiring locations to life on the big screen.

That's largely because there's only so much you can do utilizing practical effects, and taking a practical approach to such creatures as a Basilisk or Hippogriff, or many of the film's more whimsical locations would likely have proven not only to be extremely challenging, but also prohibitively expensive. Even still, the "Harry Potter" effects team didn't let these potential complications get in the way of how they shot one of the franchise's most magical settings. Indeed, it may shock you to learn that the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was shot partly using some seriously impressive practical effects. Here's how the "Harry Potter" film franchise's creative team made Hogwarts a reality. 

Harry Potter went old school to bring Hogwarts exteriors to life on screen

No, the "Harry Potter" production team did not actually build a full-scale Hogwarts, because that would've been completely insane. Per a 2012 report from the Daily Mail, however, they did take a surprising "ground up" approach to creating an easily shootable version of Hogwarts for the first film in the franchise, 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," by constructing a massive model version of the fabled wizarding school. 

According to the Daily Mail, the glorious model stretches a full 50 feet across, required the work of more than 80 artists, and was utilized for exterior shots of Hogwarts in all eight of the "Harry Potter" movies. Based largely on famed UK structures Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle, and designed by Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig, the astonishing model reportedly contains more than 2500 fiber optic lights designed to mimic lantern torches, and is so intricately detailed that it boasts everything from a flock of owls in the school's Owlery to tiny hinges adorning every door.

Speaking about the structure, Craig is clearly still impressed by the work, stating simply, "It's pretty extravagant, I have to say." One look at the structure is enough to understand "extravagant" is an egregious understatement. Frankly, Craig's Hogwarts model is a legitimate work of art. If you want to see it for yourself, it's currently featured as part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and should be well worth the price of admission for any franchise fan.