As a huge movie buff, one of the aspects of film that I find fascinating is all the work that goes on behind the scenes to create a truly immersive experience for the viewers. Costuming, lighting, cinematography and set design are the ones most people notice, but what I like to focus on are the minute details that make the world believable. If you’re going to shoot a film set in 1980 in the middle of Times Square, then it needs to look like Times Square did in 1980 – down to the very last poster.
Graphic Design isn’t something people normally associate with movies – but we would definitely notice if it was missing. Someone had to design the logo that gets plastered on every retail item imaginable (I’m looking at you, Star Wars). Movies like Star Wars completely changed the way that film marketing was handled – check out this great article on AMA.org about the history of the franchise. Pop-culture merchandise is everywhere, and certainly someone designed it all.
But what I’m talking about is not just the promotional marketing – it’s every piece of print within a film as well. Consider, for example, the Harry Potter franchise.
Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are the two halves of MinaLima, the London-based design firm responsible for some of the iconic design imagery found in the Harry Potter films. Their fantastic work is currently on display in the Coningsby Gallery in Soho, London, and I am super jealous that I can’t go see it. The pair designed everything from book covers, posters for the Quidditch World Cup, Weasley’s joke shop merchandising, pro-magic propaganda, and the Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper that I wish existed in real life.
The Daily Prophet might be “the single most labour-intensive prop ever”: Mira notes that Eduardo was “essentially the editor” of the paper throughout the making of the series, laying out and putting together the finished product. As the newspaper moves through the later books, increasingly becoming a propaganda tool for a government in the grip of dark wizards, its aesthetic changes from one of elaborate fonts and creative details to a more uniform, text-heavy style. Of course, wizarding newspapers literally move, and one part of taking these props from paper to screen involves layering green paper over each page to function as a green screen: allowing post-production to bring the paper to life.
Quote and image from the NewStatesman – December 17, 2015 Issue
That attention to detail and commitment to the spirit of the material made MinaLima’s work on the films some of my favorite details. They took a magical world and made it believable through color, text and imagery. Now if only Hogwarts had a graphic design department…