Weta Workshop

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

Weta Workshop
Privately held company
IndustryVisual effects, animation
Founded1987 (as RT Effects)
FounderRichard Taylor 
HeadquartersWellington, New Zealand
Key people
Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger, Jamie Selkirk, Peter Jackson

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 is named after the New Zealand weta, one of the world's largest insects, which is also featured in the logo.



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 82.9 million links were manufactured from 7 miles of PVC pipe.


The term bigature is Weta Workshop's nickname for a very large miniature model.[2] 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[3] 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."[4]

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."[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Special effects filmography


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