We knew “Harry Potter” was the s**t. We just didn’t know that was literal.
Even if you’re the biggest “Harry Potter” fan, you probably don’t know all the secrets the movies have to offer. Recently, HuffPost stepped into a big one.
In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Buckbeak the Hippogriff secretly poops onscreen:
Did you see it? Look again … at Buckbeak’s butt.
How did this happen? Was Buckbeak just nervous? Does Hagrid have a magic pooper scooper? IS THIS CALLED A NIM-BUTTS 2000?
We have so many questions.
That’s why we got in touch with Framestore’s Michael Eames, who worked on the computerized characters in the film. The company first came into the franchise, and the world of visual effects, during production of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Framestore then went on to bring some of the series’ most memorable creatures to life, including Fawkes the Phoenix, the Basilisk and, of course, Buckbeak.
Eames confirmed that, yes, Buckbeak takes a poo on screen.
(100 percent. That’s a confirmed poo.)
He also explained how it happened.
Eames told us that plopping in little Easter eggs like a character relieving himself is nothing new in animation. Back in the day, animators were hand-drawing most or all of the frames, so it was common practice to sneak things in for laughs.
“I can’t really go into too much detail with that, but there were some pretty outrageous things that slipped past editorial in those days, but I supposed as an animator you were kind of always looking for an opportunity to have a bit of a laugh on the side, and I guess that’s where that came from,” said Eames.
Here’s that Buckbeak moment one more time for s**ts and giggles (mostly the former):
Eames continued, “If you can be serious on that moment, I think we were trying very much to get a naturalistic feel to the way that Buckbeak behaved as a character, his whole being animalistic. I think he was described at the time by [director] Alfonso Cuarón as a sort of adolescent teenager, so we were trying to kind of place this character we very much wanted to get across in a very sort of real environment. It felt like something that he would do naturally, if there was an opportunity, would be a good idea.”
Eames says he believes his team told the director about the scene and were given the bathroom pass. In his recollection, the animator said Cuarón “thought it was funny and perfectly fitting.”
In addition to that moment, Eames told us that bringing Buckbeak to life was a huge challenge for Framestore, calling the hippogriff a “milestone” character in visual effects.
He explained that up to that point, CG characters “always felt like they needed to be glossed up.”
“There were lots of very [dimly] lit moments for Buckbeak, when he’s in the pumpkin patch for example, and it’s all quite gray and miserable. It wasn’t what you would expect in terms of how you would treat a fully CG, fully feathered, all singing, all dancing character like that, so there was that earthy quality to it.”
Though there were also animatronic versions of Buckbeak, Eames said at a relatively late stage the company was asked to do much more CG work on the film, and that the robotic one may only appear in the movie in two shots.
Buckbeak was built in a collaborative process from the bones up. Thanks to all that work, we finally got an animated character worth giving a crap about — one big, animated crap.
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