Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Closer Look: Half-Blood Prince Posters

Okay, now that I have had a few days to really look at the posters recently released for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film, I must say the initial excitement has turned into a slurry of questions about composition choices, the handling of typography, excessive Photoshopping and overall laziness in terms of design.

I hate to be a downer, and let me be fair in saying that these posters aren't bad. I simply have to question why a multi-billion-dollar company the likes of Warner Brothers would tamper with an obviously successful brand by hiring designers that cut corners to the quick.

Okay, here's my first complaint. In the close-up poster of Harry, you'll notice what amounts to a gratuitous bit of photo-retouching. I understand that nobody likes a pimple, especially when advertising for a huge summer blockbuster but, seriously humans have pours. As far as I can tell, Dan Radcliffe has fairly clear skin to begin with so was the excessive digital dermabrasion really necessary? Also, I'd be willing to wager that a large chunk of Harry-cheek was sliced off to create that masculine jawline, there.

Now, you might say, "Jordan, these kinds of retouches happen all the time. It's standard and really, you're looking too deep into this." And to that I would say. You are absolutely right. I am looking too deep into this but I have to wonder what kind of message WB is trying to send to the flocks of brooding, hormonal, pimply, pudgy-faced kids who will flock to the theaters to see this film? This sort of thing hearkens back to the now infamous retouching of an advertisement for the IMAX version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (in which Emma Watson's [Hermione's] chest was significantly enlarged and her stomach trimmed).

My final qualm comes at the realization that the exact same "rain effect" was used on both the poster of Harry and Dumbledore. Again, to many this is a minute and seemingly insignificant detail but to a designer like myself, I have to wonder why. With posters like these, every element we see as an audience sprang from a decision made by a designer which tells me someone, somewhere along the line said 'Oh, just use the same one. No one will ever notice.' C'mon, guys. You're dealing with Potter fans, we will always notice.

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