I was thrilled when this collection arrived. It looks and feels amazing. It is amazing.
This is a huge two-volume slipcased set. It's quite heavy so if you're buying from Amazon, there might be an additional weight surcharge depending on the shipping location and speed. For overseas buyers, I recommend checking out the book at Book Depository because their prices are inclusive of shipping and the overall price may be slightly cheaper.
The slipcase is gorgeous and stunning. It holds two hardcovers within, namely Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity and Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen, for a total of 464 pages. Weta today is made up of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, and hence the books are split as such.
The books detail the history of Weta and all the work they have done for over two decades in chronological order. It's filled with insightful writeup that's bound to delight movie fans, especially those who like reading behind-the-scenes materials.
There are many little bits of interesting information, like where their name Weta came from, the puppets they made for theatre, props for advertising, the sleep-deprived nights spent traveling from sets to sets. Those were the early days for Weta Workshop. They were already quite good and then came the big break that is The Lord of The Rings that made them even more prominent as a special effects company.
Other then films, they have also created a lot of non-film related projects, such as TV programs like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, shows for children, high-end collectibles, published artbooks and even put up public sculptures. All those are in the books, complete with commentary talking about their other ventures and challenges.
The pictures included comprise behind-the-scenes photos, graphics on how they create digital effects, film stills and more. You'll see photos of armour, weapons, miniatures, creatures and prosthetic make up. There are also pictures looking at how they do motion capture, editing, blending live backgrounds with computer graphics, rotoscoping, compositing and many more. It's an insightful look at film production from the perspective of Weta.
You'll read about stuff like how they manage battle scenes in LOTR, create skin textures for the Na'vis in Avatar, use digi-doubles in films such as the digital Captain America that jumped out of the jet in Avengers, and many more. All the films that they have worked on are given a decent amount of writeup. It's very satisfying to read through all the information.
Authors Luke Hawker and Clare Burgess have both worked at Weta Workshop and Digital respectively for more than a decade. They have done a terrific job with the books.
The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta is an wonderful collection of stories and images from a very well respected high calibre company in the movie industry.
This is one of my favourite books from 2014.
Highly recommended to movie fans, digital artists and those who love movie companion books.
The two hardcovers within the slipcase.
Location of the Weta companies
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There are two publishers, Harper Design and HarperCollins. Actually Harper Design is the imprint of HarperCollins. The books are the same, just that the distribution channel is different so the prices will also vary slightly. Readers in USA should get the one from Harper Design.