Day 76 on the Road
The Weta Workshop Tour and the Thunderbirds Are Go Tour!
It’s a double whammy today on New Zealand’s BIGGEST Gap Year web series where we not only go on a Weta Workshop Tour in Wellington, but we also see the behind-the-scenes miniature sets of the Thunderbirds Are Go!
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Today we are going to the Weta Workshop which is in the heart of Wellywood.
Wellington, believe it or not, has a fair few movie studios in the Miramar Peninsula which is just outside Wellington city you can just get a bus there. This is where a lot of the behind the scenes to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were made. Also all the props all the costumes the special effects everything Weta is huge in New Zealand. And that’s not all they’ve done loads of different blockbusters they’ve done Avatar, they’ve done District 9, I robot, The Avengers, Last Samurai – no one’s seen last samurai. The entrance of the Weta Cave is just kind of put you in that spirit and then you get and straight away you’re greeted by one of the most beautiful gift shop I have seen in my entire life. The ceiling is full of frames that reminisce old and newer movies that have been in some kind of way worked on by the Weta Studios. All the props are just a nerd fest. A lady is walking around saying hey guys you guys want to go watch a movie it’s like a 20-minutes 25-minutes movie about the Weta Workshop and the work here and this and that, it’s completely free so you get in and it’s on every half an hour. the Cinema itself is gorgeous you get one one side a lot of old props from Narnia and on the other side you have a lot of old props from The Lord of the rings. And there is actually fires burning and then a big screen right no top and the movie goes over 25 minutes the whole history of the Weta Studios and all the projects that they’ve been involved. I’m a lord of the rings nerd so I am really happy to see this and Robin is just a general movie nerd anyway so this is perfect for us. We are taking the 2 o’clock tour.
In Weta Workshop they are under contract with movie studios that own the right of the props that they are showing us so because they do not own the right to it we can’t film it. So all the visuals you are seeing today have been taken from the Mini Museum at the Weta Cave and their gift shop. There is about 20 people on this tour. Our tour guide comes to meet us in the cave and just shows us around basically the workshop is right behind the cave we go in and he goes through the house rules which is like no photography no filming you will learn some secrets here today we do not want you to show those secrets to anyone else. Darren is going to be our tour guide today for the Weta Workshop Tour. Darren is one of the painters here at Weta. He worked on props from district 9 he worked on props for World of Warcraft and he’s currently working on props for a movie that he can’t disclose but I know of. They are currently working on Avatar 2 and 3 so I freakin’ know that’s the one he’s working on but I notice that he still has blue paint on his fingers. So the tour starts with a gun from District 9 that Darren knows we want to play with so he’s passing the gun around. We are shown the weapon making process on a mass scale so how do they provide a whole alien race with weapons for a movies and still make it look believable? And then we get a sneak peak through a glass window into the Weta Workshop seeing people working behind the scenes as we speak. And then our tour guide gives us some like stories behind the scenes like oh a new movie that we cannot tell you about that’s coming out soon but we can’t tell you about it had this famous actor that we cannot tell you about who wants to who says he does all is his own stunts but we can’t tell you who that is and this guy who we can’t tell you who he is actually was shit and he doesn’t do all his own stunts but we can’t tell you what stunts they were but you know whoo. Secrets.
Then we move onto a section where we can actually see someone designing something on a computer which is pretty cool. And then we see a miniature castle that was used in The Chronicles of Narnia and he tells us some stories about this and then we get to see in the CNC room there’s a big window we can actually see there are people working in there and the CNC machines are carving out we are well we don’t know what they’re carving out and we cannot know because they are secret. And we exit not before seeing a lot of different kind of like expressions of Kong all those different expressions of Kong are sculpted in clay and aligned all on the wall. You know I ask Darren hey why do you do that? Because obviously I know you’ve done it just on computers so why do you need those clay and basically it’s just good point of reference for the computer artists when they were animated Kong in the movie so that’s really cool and that’s why I really like about having Darren as a tour guide. there is just things everywhere so we go through a lot of things and he’s giving us a lot of insights but it’s up to us to point out something and ask a question right? and Darren is like so he knows his shit so I’m asking him a few questions and he’s telling us everything and I really really really like that. And the last thing we’re seeing is a life-size beautiful ngavi. We are in the Weta Workshopand what did we do Henriette and we saw how it’s done.
So same place at the Weta Workshop and it’s the second tour that they have which is the Thunderbirds Are Go it’s the same things it’s about 25 bucks and yeah we’ll see what happens. We won’t be able to film but we’ll figure out a way to tell you all about the experience and show you some visuals that we got. Visual aids of leaflets. Yes. Back when I was younger I used to go to my grandparents’ house and they would have Thunderbirds on sometimes and basically Thunderbirds is puppets controlled by puppet masters or puppeteers. Thunderbirds is a show I know very little about but I’m a big fan of the Weta Workshop work on movies that i care and really love so what about something that I know nothing about which has been made by Weta? Will I be interested in it? And will it wow me? This is why I drag Laura to the Thunderbirds Are go tour.We first watch a bit of an introductory video which is kind of handy for me because I’ve not even seen any footage of the new Thunderbirds. i want to see obviously have some context as to what we’re talking about for the rest of the tour so that’s handy and the movie finishes and erica gives us a few more insights and then she’s walking us through a little bit more of a genesis of the Thunderbirds. There is a lot of memorabilia like very old replicas of their space ships and characters and all of that and then we move onto a massive wall which is a kind of story board wall. After concept art we are looking at some shelves that Erica tells us is like storage for junk they are storing junk here because this is the stuff they actually make for the Thunderbirds miniature sets. The sets are made from everyday household items including spray cans, water bottles, those little eggs you get in Kinder Surprises which the toys are in, batteries, hair curlers, tube from old hoovers computer boards, so yeah, the possibilities are endless with all this junk and we sort of have our imaginations are going wild it’s all coming together cos we’re about to see the real sets to the Thunderbirds Are Go TV series. So we see their house and oh my God it just looks like a massive dolls house but more epic every single detail we can start to see all those little household items and junk that Erica was just talking to us about. The tour finishes on a high we see a lot of things and we are getting back to the hostel so back to Wellington City. My head is in the clouds kind of dreaming.
And tomorrow we are going to go out into the wild to see what New Zealand used to look like before us humans migrated. We are going to Zealandia!