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Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop
Privately held company
Industry Visual effects, animation
Founded 1987 (as RT Effects)
Headquarters Wellington, New Zealand
Key people
Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger, Jamie Selkirk, Sir Peter Jackson
Costumes designed by Weta Workshops, Elven soldiers in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company based in Miramar, New Zealand, producing effects for television and film.

Founded in 1987 by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger as RT Effects, Weta Workshop has produced creatures and makeup effects for the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess and effects for films such as Meet The Feebles and Heavenly Creatures. A digital division, Weta Digital, was formed in 1993.

Weta Workshop's output came to worldwide prominence with director Peter Jackson's film trilogy The Lord of the Rings, producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons, creatures and miniatures. It supported the creation of Reclaiming the Blade (2009), a documentary film on stage combat, historical European and Asian swordsmanship.[1]

The company name comes from the weta, "New Zealand's coolest little monster, a bizarre and prickly prehistoric cricket".[2]


  • Innovations 1
    • Chainmail 1.1
    • Bigatures 1.2
    • Weta Legs 1.3
  • Weta Tenzan Chain Maille 2
  • Special effects filmography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Weta Workshop buildings in Miramar


For The Lord of the Rings film trilogy realistic looking PVC chainmail was made, not just for the lead actors, but also for the hundreds of extras that appeared throughout the films. PVC pipe was cut into rings, assembled by hand into armor, and then electroplated. A total of 12.5 million links were manufactured from 7 miles of PVC pipe.


The term "Bigature" is Weta Workshop's nickname for a very large miniature model.[3] They are used in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, with the largest of them measuring some 9 metres high. Extensive computer graphics techniques and computer controlled cameras were used to seamlessly mesh the Bigature photography with live actors and scenes. Weta also used Bigatures in Peter Jackson's King Kong.

Bigatures used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy include:

Weta Legs

The name "Weta Legs" is Weta Workshop's name for a "low profile, professional grade reverse leg stilt" developed by Kim Graham and Weta technicians and manufactured by Performing Legs Ltd. Designed and largely hand-made[4] by their sculptor-designer, Kim Graham, these digitigrade leg extensions are intended for "creature and costume performances in movies, television, theatre, circus, street performances and other creative performances."[5]

Originally reserved for "commercial film and television projects", Weta brought them to market – in relatively limited quantities – for online purchase by members of the public in 2010. With the ability to take extra prosthetics such as layers of fur or skin "to resemble a digitigrade leg, from canine and feline to fantastical demons, dragons, satyrs and even robots", these devices are promoted as being easy to get used to, partly because they "allow for realistic and natural movement as they are jointed at the knee and the ankle."[6]

Citing low pre-order numbers, Weta unceremoniously canceled the commercial production of Weta Legs by informing those who did pre-order by email. The Weta Legs page has since been removed from Weta's website.

Weta Tenzan Chain Maille

The workshop now has a division, Weta Tenzan Chain Maille, making chainmail for film work. PVC injection was used for the armor in Kingdom of Heaven, giving better results than the process for Lord of the Rings.[7] Versions electroplated with a thin layer of metal have the same look as real chain mail, move like metal at one third the weight, and are much cheaper. Aluminium or steel mail for high-impact stuntwork is also produced.[8]

Special effects filmography


  1. ^ "About the Film". Reclaiming the Blade. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  2. ^ About page at Weta's website
  3. ^ The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition Special Features DVDs
  4. ^ Weta Legs reviewed by
  5. ^ Review of Weta Legs at
  6. ^ Weta Legs at Weta Workshop
  7. ^ WetaNZ: The home of Weta Collectibles and Weta Tenzan Chainmaille
  8. ^ 2006 Costumes – Guild Forums
  9. ^ "Weta works on Neill Blomkamp's Elysium". Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  10. ^ Born of Hope – credits

External links

  • Weta Workshop
  • Weta Digital
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