Poly students help create magic at Harry Potter exhibition

Isabelle Liew
The New Paper
Nov 5, 2016

In less than four months, eight Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) students have created impressive magic for a Harry Potter-themed exhibition.

Thanks to them, you can wave a wand to test your spell-casting technique and be guided by wizards and witches in moving portraits at the Collecting Magic: From Stamps To Wands exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The NYP's School of Interactive and Digital Media students produced realistic versions of features from the Harry Potter movies.

Mr Low Yao Ming, 19, a third-year interaction design student, told The New Paper: "The interactive multimedia is achieved by using sensors along with programming.

"For example, in the moving portraits, we use radio frequency, two sensors and power programming to sense when to play a certain video."

Mr Low is one the four interaction design students who worked on programming the features as their final-year project.

Witches and wizards in the moving portraits will point visitors the way up when they enter and wave them goodbye when they leave.

Students in costumes were filmed for clips that appear in the portraits at the stairs leading to the exhibition.

Visitors can wave a wand at a screen in the exhibition hall and it will, using radio frequency, pick up on the tilt of the wand to cast the Patronus Charm and conjure up a spirit guardian, which will appear on the screen.

Mr Low said he gained a lot of exposure because he had to use new software programs, which he had not learnt in school, to create the effects. His team worked closely with four digital visual effects students who provided the video for it.


"We overcame many challenges together," he said.

"When we assembled everything together in school, everything was working properly. But when we transported it to the venue, there were problems.

"We had to slowly look into things to solve the problem. There was a sense of achievement when we managed to fix it."

Miss Sam Lim, who has been a Harry Potter fan for 17 years, was especially impressed by the moving portraits.

The 30-year-old said: "When I went up the stairs and saw the moving portraits, I hadn't reached the exhibition hall, but I could already feel the Harry Potter vibe.

"I don't think I could have made such things when I was a polytechnic student."

The exhibition also houses a collection of Harry Potter stamps and postcards from around the world, including Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, UK and the US.

Visitors can also take photos while pretending to push a trolley through Platform 9¾ at King's Cross Station or flying like a Quidditch player with Hogwarts Castle as the backdrop.

Potterheads are bound to squeal at the movie memorabilia and collectibles displayed - on loan from local collectors - including a collector's 31-disc set of movies and documentaries, and a collector's edition of The Tales Of Beedle The Bard.

Exhibition curator Mishelle Lim started working on the project about a year ago.

She looked for local collectors on fan pages and went to some of their homes to pick out the rarer items that the museum wanted to feature.

She said: "The power of the post connects humans.

"Some of these things, such as the postcards, cannot be bought with money. They were specially sent to us from around the world because of this exhibition."

The museum's general manager Tresnawati Prihadi said the exhibition "honours the tradition of collecting, particularly in the area of philately".

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