Harry Potter "moving" painting?...


Sr Member
On a recent trip to HARRY POTTER WORLD at Universal Studios in Florida, I noticed some cool "moving" paintings in line on one of the HP rides.

It got me thinking that this couldn't be that hard to replicate. I've got a wall at my house that I have access to from behind. Mount a LCD TV vertically and frame it out on the display side and it's done.

I've attached a crappy pic that shows the style but didn't capture the video image.

They even gave the TV screen kind of a "wash" with a crackled old look to make it go with the frame.

How hard would this be to do? Anybody ever do one or have any advice?

Well, I've only painted a few wizard portraits, but it seems like a wonderful project. Aside from the technical aspects, you'd also have to have an appropriate person costumed for the 'portrait' and sit for the video, which would have to be a couple minutes (at least) long and looped to continue the seamless illusion of it. It would be fantastic, but it seems like an incredible amount of work, money and construction to have such an illusion. I'm not sure it would be worth it, unless it would be viewed frequently by a variety of people. Do you already have a room set up as a Hogwarts hallway, or Dumbledore's Office, or something along those lines?
Well, I don't think there'd be any audio, just video...and I'd probably only play it when guests are over anyway. It would be in my "man cave" basement that's full of props from this darn site. :lol So it would fit right in.

I thought it'd be really fun to get dressed up like an old wizard and "act" it all out myself....make myself almost unrecognizable. Walk in and out of "frame", etc...the sky's the limit on ideas. If I had all the video on a simple dvd player and set it to loop that'd be pretty simple, right?

Framing the tv behind the wall and mounting it up would be easy. I'd just have to find the perfect tv and frame combo.
Sounds like a lot of hassle and expense for something that won't get much use. After all, it's not like you can use it as a regular TV when you want 'cos it'll be rotated 90 degrees.

....unless you plan on keeping it landscape-orientated, I guess that could work. If so, then you should get on of those wand TV remotes that you can program to recognise gestures - Swish! TV!, Swoosh! Magic picture!
Im curious about the ones at Wizarding World, are they back lit? To me, a back lit screen would ruin the illusion. if it was just an lcd screen with no backlighting it would more resemble a painting. I know there was a thread here where someone used a clear wash with brush strokes to make a large poster look like a painted canvas. I think it was a Vigo poster from Ghostbusters 2.

Anyway, i think it sounds like a good idea. It doesn't have to be a large plasma tv or anything. Just a small travel dvd player with screen or something.
I'm mostly curious about finding something with no back light.
I have a history of doing some pretty elaborate parties, so this idea seems totally doable to me, if you've got the time and funds. If you can afford a few flat screen TVs, some custom frames and some production time for your content, I think it's an interesting idea. Get big, ornate gold-leafed frames with heavy edges made to fit the TVs, and try to avoid having to cut into your walls. When you're done with the party, the TVs will still be useable if you pull them out of the frames (obviously the frames can be used for something else, too)... I worked on a few "living one sheets" for a design agency that were sort of like this. Vertical format... they were supposed to look like regular backlit movie posters on display in malls, etc..., but if you look at it for a while you realize that the people posing in the image are actually breathing and blinking their eyes.... Then they move very subtly... I did one for LOST that looked like a regular display ad, but every minute or so the Ajira jet would fly over them. I like the idea of trying to make an image look like a "still" image for long stretches of time. Someone sitting at a table, smiling, portrait-style, but breathing and blinking... and maybe every few minutes they make a tiny move - look around the room, change poses slightly... and then after a long time they might stand up and walk out of frame for a second or two (This could be where you loop your footage). The longer you make your loop the more interesting it will be, because people would never know what to expect. If you have the patience to shoot an hour (you probably have the disk space, even for high def footage) it would be great because it would give the painting a really "live" feel. Adjusting things like contrast, levels and color will go a long way towards making it look as much like a painting as possible. You might also consider using some post production trickery to give your footage a partial sepia tone, and even a canvas texture. Save your TV screen by putting any aging or weathering on the footage itself. Run your loop as a full-frame Quicktime from a laptop, and you can just set it and forget it for the duration of your party. It's definitely a somewhat expensive idea, but if you do it right, it could be a pretty impressive display if you had a few of them running.
That's a good idea about the iPad

Thanks Trooper Trent for the link...I'll check that out

I'm wanting to do more of a large "painting" than one of the smaller "moving picture frames" if that makes sense.

I'd not use it for a regular TV, only for the project. My guess is a 37" LCD TV can be had for under $500? The thing that'll make the project really cool is a decent size TV, making the "painting" large.

I also really like the sepia idea, I'm sure with some playing around with video software there'd be lots of options. I also like the idea of actually painting and "weathering" the TV screen a bit, this is what they did at HP world and it was a very subtle but nice touch. After all, this is the only thing this TV will ever be used for. I think I'd wait to do the weathering until I know it all works. :)

You're right Phelyx, the longer the video loop goes the cooler it is...it makes it more watchable to see what happens next. Sitting there for several minutes super still would be a great idea, as would falling asleep, etc. If I'm already spending the time shooting the video and in costume might as well go all out. :cool
I found these higher quality pics from the HP ride at Universal...I hope you can view them with these links...

Moving paintings (Helga Hufflepuff,Godric Griffindoor) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Moving paintings (Roweena Ravenclaw) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

You can tell which ones are the video frames by the detail of the people. I like how they pretty much blend in with the rest of the paintings. In fact, having more than one painting on the same wall might be a cool idea too, even if they contained modern photos made to look old of other family members or something. :)
For large baroque style frames for cheap try a store like Tuesday Morning. I don't know if you have those in Indiana or not. They basically get overstock items and then sell them cheap. You can find large mirrors and really bad art work in fabulous frames for around $30-50.
I remember seeing some of the moving portraits being built when I was working on Potter, but since it wasn't my department I don't have any inside details. The one thing I can add is that you should do the brush strokes on a sheet of thin acrylic or glass that rests just in front of the screen.

Knowing Universal and the kinds of abuse these attractions take, they would have almost certainly done this to allow for maintanence.
Have you guys played with the 8mm App on the iphone? It would be perfect to film video of yourself or someone else. It adds that old scratched sepia toned look to the video, and then you could upload it to the computer, loop it in an editing program, and burn it to DVD. Plus, the lower quality of a cell phone camera lends to the old aged look.

just a possibility.

Here are some samples on youtube. There are a couple different setting on the app, and this seems to only show one. You can set it to do more sepia tones if desired.


Here is a sepia toned sample:

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You could probably paint ModPodge on the screen (or better yet a clear protective cover) to make it look like a painting.

I love the idea! It's hilarious to me that, on a replica prop forum, where 99% of the stuff we collect sets on a shelf 99% of the time, people worry about something not getting enough use for the trouble...
I was wondering about the paintings too. You would need something without the backlight to make it look more like a painting, though. E-paper, maybe?
As far as the backlight goes, it's probably not to difficult to remove the wires that feed the backlight. In LCD computer monitors at least, there's just 2 plugs that would need to be moved. Maybe even wire in a switch...

It might be easy enough to just dim the screen very low, as I think you would need some backlight in order to see anything.
I like the idea of a medium sized tv, and painting the screen with ModPoge, changing the brightness and contrast levels to where it's a bit dim and still viewable from across the room, even adding in some 'Magical' aspects into the video, sparks from a wand, levitating a book or candles. Or even making things appear and dissapear. I keep getting the idea of having an apple summoned, taking a bite or two, and then having it *pop* away and continue on like nothing happened.

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