Today, I trotted along to Te Papa to listen to talks by Weta Digital worker, Matt Aitkin and Weta Workshoppers Dan Falconer, Paul Tobin, and Ben Hawker. Many videos were used showing Weta projects. We saw, for instance, how a dragon was made:- first an un-detailed flying and flapping image, then skeleton, followed up by muscles, skin folds and wrinkles, etc. Fascinating.
In answer to a question from the audience Matt admitted that 'making miniatures are a part of history now'. It is so much easier to go straight to the computer, he said. This statement was in direct contrast to that of Dan, Paul and Ben who later said they were still sculpting miniatures. Disagreements, lads?
Dan said that they were re-booting 'Thunderbirds". Using miniatures. They have to whip up props in a matter of days. They've gratefully rescued toner tubes, bits of Lego, and broken hairdryers to build vehicles.
It was acknowledged that LOTR was filmed with a great deal of real scenery, but 'The Hobbit' has hardly any; it's practically all digitally done. Judging by the examples we saw, I was surprised how many times digital doubles were used in The Hobbit movies.
Honestly, it appears to me that give it - what? - 20 years, and there will be no actors. Everything will be digitally controlled. That's sad. I loved LOTR because the movies showcased NZ. 'The Hobbit' showcases ... where?
The Te Papa theatre was booked in advance and sold out. An off-shoot room was, I believe, used for live streaming. But about 50 people didnt turn up at the main theatre so I suggest that if you can't register for these free sessions and want to attend over the next two Saturday afternoons, roll up at Te Papa, and hang around the theatre doors after the main wave of people have gone through - you may be allowed in .