Category Archives: General

Harry Potter at Swinley – Update

Looks like mostly done now at Swinley. The main site with the cranes has gone. Not sure about the green screen area off the top of Surrey Hill, although it was taped off still in the middle of the week.

They’ve already started filling in the dug out area where one of the cranes was, and the place is looking more like normal with most bike tracks open now.

Hoping that the money the Crown Estate get from this will feed back to develop some great bike tracks.

One lucky lad managed to find a discarded callsheet!

Harry Potter at Swinley

My usual spot of mountain biking in Swinley Forest has been interrupted a little recently by some “major filming” (as they put it). Discovered lots of green screen, some cranes, and lots of crew vehicles. Not to mention a lot of mess! Spotted signs marked ‘WB’ and had a guess… big effects film, Warner Brothers… Harry Potter perhaps?

Did a bit of a search on the net and found my guess was right! Apparently they’re there filming some scenes for one or both of the Deathly Hallows films (due for release in two parts in 2010 and 2011).

Anyway, these are a few photos I’ve taken. They’re here for a couple of months apparently. I’ll be there every few weeks likely as usual so I’ll keep an eye on it, though I’m just there at the weekend for the biking so there’s not much activity to see.

Potter filming in Swinley Forest (2009)
Copyright (c) Tim Moore

Harry Potter filming - On Location (2009)
Copyright (c) Tim Moore

Harry Potter filming - Access Restricted
Copyright (c) Tim Moore

Harry Potter filming - Crane #1
Copyright (c) Tim Moore

Harry Potter filming - Crane #2
Copyright (c) Tim Moore

These photos,Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Please give credit.

Update: Possibly this is what they’re filming (not much of a spoiler, but tagged it as such anyway. Guess someone may not have read the book!)…

Spoiler: [spoiler]“We’re here in the forest, we’ve just finished the scene where Harry, Hermione and Ron are captured by the Snatchers after being chased through the woods. The Snatchers are brutal and scary but they aren’t the most intelligent of creatures.They’re trying to figure out exactly who it is they’ve caught.”(Source: LA Times)[/spoiler]

Sony strikes again

Not content with killing off retailers because they are a threat to Sony’s market protection business model (Google: Lik-Sang and Sony), or putting rootkit viruses on CDs to infect consumer computers just to stop people copying their CDs, Sony are at it again with DVDs by producing a disc that won’t play in some players… including their own brand players!!!

More here:


Just what is it with the obsession with every DVD having to be remastered into 5.1 audio?

I wouldn’t mind so much if they at least included the original audio for old films and TV episodes, especially when the original audio is mono. In some cases I can at least understand a desire to go with a 5.1 mix given the nature of the material, for example the recent James Bond Ultimate Edition DVDs (though I would much prefer the mono tracks myself). However in others the decision to remix a mono track into 5.1 is baffling, such as with the recent special edition of Doctor Strangelove, which for a black & white very 60s British film that was shot with a mono soundtrack, features no less a DTS and DD5.1 remix !!

I’ve noticed too on some of the announced HD-DVD releases (such as Warner’s Kubrick releases), original audio is being ignored for instead a remastered surround mix. I guess the answer is it’s whatever the studio thinks will “wow” the punter with their super home cinema set up, and with HD formats they’re also trying to show off new formats like Dolby Digital Plus.

Same goes for remastering the video. The number of times now I’ve seen so called superior remasters that really are nothing of the sort. They seem to be obsessed especially about removing all traces of film grain (bearing in mind grain is often a natural part of the film and photographic process dependent on film used, available light and other factors, and often intended).

A classic example of this is the excellent Criterion version of Robocop with the print lovingly restored and original audio retained together with the approved aspect ratio and directors signed approval on the print, vs the MGM glossy remaster which wipes out the grain, jacks up the saturation and destroys the shadow detail all at the same time (and crops the picture). Whilst it makes it look like a shiny new film and more cinematic, it loses some of the weird style it had which defines the film.

Another similar example is again Dr. Strangelove SE. Just see the comparison to see what I mean. Now okay, some people initially think the SE is better for the reasons good old DVD Beaver says, namely the reduction of blown highlights, but I say… look at the shadow detail, i.e. what shadow detail? It’s all gone, too dark, and not to mention it’s not as sharp either. We can debate until the cows come home of course about what the late Mr. Kubrick would have wanted but I would get the feeling he wouldn’t have wanted half his film to dissapear by being too dark.

A similar thing is going on with the Bond films. The UEs not only don’t include the original mono audio but the video has been “remastered” too and it basically appears to involve messing about with the colour mostly in a way that looks like someones used the automatic adjustment settings in Photoshop and thought “that looks good”. Sadly though it looks okay in some scenes, in others it looks silly. Saturation again is the name of the game, same again with the DVD releases of the original (if you can call them that) Star Wars trilogy… over saturated. Half these DVDs are like going round to someone’s house where they’ve got the colour turned up way to high.

I can see why they do it. A lot of it is about contrast. Contrast is an optical trick that gives a perceived increase in detail when there isn’t one because the human eye notices contrasts more than other things, particular between certain colours. Edge sharpening is another such trick. Whilst both are tricks used widely and to great effect in photography and film, they are overused in DVD remasters to make old films more attractive to a modern audience that is used to bright coloured glossy CGI-fests. Forget quality, just go for “wow”.

It’s sad but preservation of film is lost now in the never ending quest to release an endless stream of Special Editions, Directors Cuts, Ultimate Editions, Versions you’ve Never Seen, Even better than the version you bough before releases. Hmm, and what does that do… makes you buy multiple copies of the same film and the studio lots of money.

The Prisoner Viewing Order

The Prisoner The order in which you view episodes of The Prisoner is one of much debate and it’s widely felt that it’s up to the viewer to really make their own mind up. About the only thing agreed upon is that the order in which the episodes were aired is not a very good order at all.

So here goes with yet another viewing order for The Prisoner as I currently feel it should be…

  1. Arrival (it’s definitely the beginning)
  2. Dance of the Dead (before Free For All because of the first time no.6 visits the town hall and no.6 says he’s new)
  3. Free For All
  4. Checkmate (has to come after Free For All because this is where he puts the “who are the prisoners and who are the warders” theory into practice, whereas he declares his intention in Free For All)
  5. Chimes of Big Ben (? – Seems a fairly early plan but no particular clues as to it’s position)
  6. The General (comes before A,B & C because Colin Gordon’s No. 2 is confident here and stated as the “new” no.2)
  7. A,B & C (after The General with Colin Gordon’s No.2 obviously weaker and on his second chance, and he’s not the “new” no.2)
  8. The Schizoid Man (often seems to go back to back with The General, so stuck it close to it).
  9. Many Happy Returns (Has to come before Hammer into Anvil as Thorp becomes a number 2… though arguably he’s not the same character. Other than that it could fit in anywhere mid to late series given that it has the feel of No.6 having been in the village for a while)
  10. It’s Your Funeral (not sure if this should be earlier given that No.6 hasn’t heard of jamming yet)
  11. A Change of Mind
  12. Hammer into Anvil
  13. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (a bit of a break from The Village)
  14. Living in Harmony (quite where this goes I don’t know but it was made later so here it goes. Doesn’t really have any connection to the rest of the episodes though)
  15. The Girl Who Was Death (could go anywhere. Again a kind of break from The Village and again was shot later).
  16. Once Upon a Time (now we’re back on track)
  17. Fall Out (very obviously the end)

So there you go. There are probably hundreds more combinations that people have, this is just one of them. I may revise it next time I watch the series 😉

Star Wars original theatrical versions at last… but!

So Lucas has finally given in to pressure and decided to satisfy the fans and release the original Star Wars trilogy theatrical versions as seen in the 70s and 80s (sans Special Edition enhancements) on DVD.

Fantastic, but George has decided to test our faith in the original trilogy and give us it in it’s most raw form by using non-anamorphic, low resolution laserdisc transfers as the source! It would appear he believes by asking for the original versions we would be hypocrites for wanting those versions cleaned up and sourced from a high definition transfer (the kind of thing that film preservation purists at Criterion do after all ;)).

This is nothing short of just sticking two fingers up to the fans.

Of course this does allow for better future releases on DVD and then HD versions later, consistently going back on his word 😉

As always, more information at

Oh, and to make it worse the covers for the DVDs are awful new versions inspired by the original posters rather than the brilliant original posters. Artwork and details of the DVDs here.

P.S. If you have the SE versions, you have to re-buy them to get these versions, and if you have the laserdiscs or the fan DivX versions derived from them you aren’t getting anything new anyway 😉