Harry Potter newspaper designed by Muggles27/12/2005 - 10:18:30
It is a little known fact that the distinctive look of the newspaper read by schoolboy wizard Harry Potter and his friends is the work of a couple of muggles.
Magical newshound Rita Skeeter’s quick quotes quill may take the notes but a computer expert from Leicester and a doctor from Manchester are responsible for the Daily Prophet’s now famous typeface.
Schoolfriends Alex Moseley and Roger Mills are not only the brains behind on-screen designs for the wizard newspaper but they have also worked on other props used in the film versions of author JK Rowling’s hit books.
Mr Moseley, principal computer officer at Leicester University and a keen medieval researcher, used his dual expertise to conjure up writing styles for the Book of Monsters, ancient text in Moste Potente Potions and parts of the Marauder’s Map.
He said two ancient fonts from the 12th and 13th centuries inspired typefaces for the Prophet, “the most widely read newspaper in the wizard community”.
Now millions of film-goers have seen the ancient text and italic hands unearthed by the researcher who digitised the fonts for use in the films.
Mr Moseley became interested in medieval history and archaeology in the sixth form and, with his friend Roger Mills, started designing and digitising type faces, working freelance for a computer software company in rural Staffordshire, where they both lived.
His interest remained throughout his time as an archaeology student at the University of Leicester and continues with his involvement in the Medieval Research Centre there.
Now, the two old friends jointly run a company called Crazy Diamond in their spare time, which researches old handwriting styles and turns them into typefaces for computers.
On seeing his work on the big screen, Mr Moseley said: “It’s fantastic. It’s good on two fronts. It’s good to see all that hard work appearing on the big screen, but it’s also getting medieval writing styles out into the wider world.
“It might evoke some interest in the younger kids in medieval history.”
The researcher has co-produced an educational pack, called Wizardings, which involves children using software to write their own wizardly texts.
Crazy Diamond first made its mark on the world of showbiz in Royal Shakespeare Company productions at the Barbican, in London.
Mr Moseley said: “About half a year before the first Harry Potter film came out, I got a call from a designer at Leavesden Studios, asking for permission to use our fonts in the film. Ever since then, the designer and others there have produced beautiful props for the Harry Potter films, utilising the whole range of our historical typefaces.
“Of course, many more props are prepared than those which are visible in the final films, but we’ve had something in every Harry Potter film so far. By the third film we were working with Roman and Celtic fonts – and we passed early versions of these to the props department.”
He said the research for the different hands is meticulously carried out, trawling through the archives at Leicester and Manchester libraries, the British Library and Bodleian Library, and museums and libraries around the country.
The fonts are hand drawn from the original, and scanned into the computer before being hand-traced again on screen.
“We take care to recreate the original pen strokes, and include all historical characters, runes and abbreviation marks,” said Mr Moseley. “The difficulty then is to get the script flowing well on screen and in print, as each character is taken from a different word in the source documents.”
When he visited the Leicester Medieval Research Centre to present a Public Lecture, middle ages history buff and former Monty Python member Terry Jones was presented with a package of Crazy Diamond Design fonts.
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