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Archive for May, 2007


Who is the mysterious Dr Grordbort, and what has he got to do with New Zealand’s legendary multi Academy Award® winning Weta Workshop? Well, it seems that Grordbort has reached out from his parallel universe and appointed Weta Limited to manufacture his awesome range of Rayguns.

With names such as the MANMELTER 3600ZX Sub-Atomic Disintegrator Pistol; the F.M.O.M. INDUSTRIES Wave Disrupter Gun, or even the GOLIATHON 83 Infinity Beam Projector, you know that these have been created by a truly warped mind! [More]

Posted in Collectibles, Contests, Merchandise, Old Main News, WETA Workshop

Cheltenham Science Festival Promises to Tell All…

Iain writes: Spotted an article in my local paper (Evening Advertiser) that caught my eye immediately:

“A top scientist is to reveal the secrets behind the magic of Harry Potter. At the Cheltenham Science Festival;, in June, fans of both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings will have the opportunity to find out how computer technology created the films’ special efforts.

At the festival presentation, sponsored by the Swindon-based British Computer Society, Andrew Fitzgibbon, the winner of the 2006 BCS Needham Award, will present Screen Magic, about the use of computer vision in creating 3D special effects for the film industry. He will illustrate how he uses technology to bend the audiences’ perception of what they are watching.

He is a senior researcher at the Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK and researches the intersection of computer vision and computer graphics, with excursions into neuroscience, which have allowed him to work on the special effects for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings among other films.

He will be joined by Andrew Daffy, who will explain the secrets behind the magic of his work which includes the James Bond opening titles and BBC2 tags.”

Link to specific event:

Details on Andrew Fitzgibbon

Details on Andrew Daffy (imdb)

Posted in Lectures & Education, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Old Special Reports

High-fliers ‘daunt’ Weta whiz

Special effects king Richard Taylor will fly the Kiwi flag in Monaco this week amid the world’s leading entrepreneurs, a prospect he finds daunting. Attending the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year awards, after winning the New Zealand title last October, Mr Taylor will compete against 46 others from around the world in the luxury Mediterranean port. But it was the prestigious company, rather than the swanky location, that was the biggest treat. “We have always thought of ourselves as creative people, not business people. It’s a bit daunting actually,” he said. [More]

Posted in Crew News, LotR Movies, Old Main News, Richard Taylor

Casting Complete for London Revival of In Celebration with Orlando Bloom

Casting is now complete for the upcoming London revival of David Storey’s 1969 drama In Celebration, which will star screen actor Orlando Bloom. Joining the previously announced Bloom (as Steven), Lynda Baron (Mrs. Burnett), Gareth Farr (Colin), Paul Hilton (Andrew) and Ciaran McIntyre (Reardon) will be Tim Healy (as Mr. Shaw) and Dearbhla Molloy (as Mrs. Shaw). Anna Mackmin will direct the production, which begins previews July 5 at the Duke of York’s Theatre with an official opening July 12. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, the play is currently booking until Sept. 15. [More]

Posted in Events, LotR Cast News, Old Main News, Orlando Bloom, Stage Productions

Angus McBride (1931–2007)

Craig writes: Angus McBride has passed away. Mr McBride created a number of pieces of artwork based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for Iron Crown Enterprises Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) game and Middle Earth Collectable Card Game (MECCG). [More]

Posted in Gaming, Merchandise, Old Main News

Richard Taylor could be named ‘World Entrepreneur of the Year’

Thanks to TORnado Grammaboodawg for sending this great article about Richard Taylor. Seems our favorite Weta chief will be in Monaco this week meeting with the 46 candidates for the world title. The winner will be announced Sunday but the full story can be read right here.

Posted in Crew News, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Old Main News, Richard Taylor

Accident halts LOTR musical

Thanks to all those who wrote in with the bit of bad news about the LOTR musical and an injury to one of its performers. The BBC’s article about it can be found right here. We wish the cast member a speedy recovery and the show all the best.

Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions

Chat with Weta Designer Stephen Crowe Tomorrow!

From Weta Designer Stephen Crowe returns to the forums to answer as many questions as he can on NZ Thurs 31 May. Here are some of the highlights from last week’s blitz…

Here’s a snippet:

What was your first project with Weta and what was your best?

Stephen: “I was originally brought in to work on the Neon Genesis Evangelion live action movie – which was good fun, and a very steep learning curve for me. The BEST one is probably what I’m working on right now – which of course I can’t talk about!”

Stephen hard at work on answering questions!

How do you find managing the often competing demands of a full work week, extra-hours freelance work, family, socialising and personal projects?

Stephen: “It’s really incredibly difficult to fit it all in, and to say that I’m ‘managing’ these aspects of my life would be grossly unfair to that word!

“Progressing some personal projects is becoming more and more important to me … in particular a graphic novel concept that I’ve been kicking around for a wee while now.. the book takes place somewhere else, or sometime else (is that specific enough?), or probably BOTH, and the main character is a freelancing engineer who is offered a lucrative and attractive contract to go and work on a nearby island that is populated by a mysterious but benevolent race of beings who have largely kept to themselves since their arrival quite some time ago. The engineer ends up becoming involved in a SINISTER PLOT, no less!

Stephen's work on Kong

“So lots of fun sci-fi design opportunities to keep me happy, and some action/drama to pull it all together. The challenging part will be writing the thing – so maybe a collaboration is in order, as I’ve never written fiction. So utilising my spare half hour per month to it’s fullest, I should be done by about 2047! Keep an eye out…”

Weta Designer Daniel Falconer and a mystery designer also jumped onto the Forums to join in, too!

Congratulations to Weta Forum members Ulrik_fC, hsaunderson, Targos, oldduffer and Arranz, who won a King Kong poster signed by Stephen himself.

Stephen will be hopping on again tomorrow NZ Thurs 31 May (that’s Weds to those of you in North America), so make sure if you haven’t already, you sign up and create an account (free!) to chat to Stephen and the crew.

Posted in Collectibles, Merchandise, Old Special Reports, WETA Workshop

McKellen’s Lear and Seagull to Play New London Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company productions of King Lear and The Seagull — both starring Ian McKellen and directed by Trevor Nunn — will arrive at the West End’s New London Theatre Nov. 12. News of the transfer comes just before the delayed press performance of McKellen’s Lear, which will be shown to the critics as a matinee, followed by an evening performance of The Seagull, in which McKellen plays Sorin. The Shakespeare and Chekhov plays will run in repertory at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre until June 23. The RSC made the decision to postpone the original April 3 press night of King Lear after Frances Barber, who plays Goneril, sustained a knee injury in a bicycle accident. [More]

Posted in Events, Ian McKellen, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Old Main News, Stage Productions

TV Watch: Orlando Bloom on ‘Ellen’ Clips

Fresh off his visit from ‘The Tonight Show’, Orlando Bloom headed over to the ‘Ellen Degeneres Show’ to promote ‘Pirates III’. Take a look at the clips below!

Orlando Bloom on ‘Ellen’ Part 1

Add to My Profile More VideosOrlando Bloom on ‘Ellen’ Part 2

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Posted in Old Special Reports, Orlando Bloom, Television

TV Watch: Orlando Bloom on ‘Leno’ Clips

This may be too little too late, however I now have the clips from Orlando Bloom’s visit to ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ from earlier this month. Take a look!

Orlando Bloom on ‘Jay Leno’ Part 1

Add to My Profile More VideosOrlando Bloom on ‘Jay Leno’ Part 2

Add to My Profile More Videos

Posted in Old Special Reports, Orlando Bloom, Television

Visiting Shadowfax

Visiting Shadowfax

Nuradar writes: This past Sunday, May 27 I went to a horse exhibition in Truro, Nova Scotia to see Blanco, the beautiful white Andalusian that played Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, in the The Lord of the Rings movies, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. It was a great exhibition with many horses and lots to learn about riding and grooming, but I must admit, Blanco was the main reason went. I was not disappointed. He’s not exactly a large horse, but boy was he beautiful. His owner is Cynthia Royal, who acquired him immediately after filming was completed for all three movies. She gave the audience some interesting facts about his involvement with the movies. For example, Blanco’s nose and lips turned progressively more pink as filming went on. Therefore, they are more pink in The Return of the King than in The Two Towers. Another interesting tidbit is that Blanco was gelded (neutered) after the movies were finished so that nobody would profit from his offspring due to his association with The Lord of the Rings. Also, Blanco’s specialties include riding bare back and rearing on his hind legs. Blanco did have a double for some of the fast riding shots, but he is the horse we see in most scenes. And, of course, Sir Ian McKellen had a stunt double for the fast riding shots.

Cynthia Royal was at the exhibition not only to show Blanco to the public, but also to promote her style of horse training and her DVD. She uses a non-aggressive way to train horses that involves an innate understanding of a horse’s body language. Knowing the horse’s body language allows her to understand and respect the horse’s needs and intentions, and therefore, she doesn’t need to use force or aggression in her training. For more information on Cynthia’s training, visit her website,

It really was a thrill to see the horse that portrayed Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings movies. Cynthia’s website indicates that there are some tentative U.S. tour dates for this fall and winter and for 2008. Check to see if she and Blanco are coming to your city.

Posted in Exhibits, LotR Movies, Old Special Reports