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Lord of the Rings Premier: NZ innovation praised


Note: Premier finished at approx 4.30pm today NZ time

December 6, 2002 For immediate release

Celebrities and VIPs attending the premier in New York of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers were stunned by the quality of the film's innovative special effects - which were created by New Zealand companies.

Investment New Zealand's Investment Manager for Film based in New York, Miett Fear, said the second film in the trilogy was a tremendous showcase for the innovative companies working in visual effects.

"After the screening many of the people I talked with said how impressed they were with the special effects and it's a real credit to people like Richard Taylor and the team at Weta as well as Oktobor and other New Zealand companies involved in the production. I think the message is getting through internationally that these companies are at the top of their fields," said Ms Fear.

While Richard Taylor, Head of Weta Workshop and double Oscar winner, and the team at Weta are the toast of the town in New York, they are also celebrated in a showcase of innovative New Zealanders currently at the new Carter Holt Harvey New Zealand Pavilion in Auckland.

Richard Taylor is one of eight New Zealand innovators profiled in the show. He says the art of innovation is to throw yourself at failure - and miss. Richard Taylor is one of eight New Zealanders participating as an Innovation Leader at the Carter Holt Harvey New Zealand Pavilion.

The Pavilion, located at the American Express Viaduct Harbour during America's Cup, has been developed by Industry New Zealand in partnership with business to celebrate New Zealand's unique, creative and innovative talents - past, present and future. It features innovation business leaders and their ideas that have achieved greatness on a global scale.

Industry New Zealand Chief Executive, Neil Mackay says Richard Taylor is a remarkable individual, representing the epitome of New Zealand entrepreneurship. "Richard is one of those people you keep your eye on. His adventurous creative spirit is truly unique and worthy of celebration. The work done by Weta is one of the biggest technical undertakings in the history of filmmaking. It's great to have people of Richard's calibre supporting innovation by participating in the Pavilion."

Wellington based Weta Workshop is well known for its physical and visual effects work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which earned Richard Taylor two Oscars for makeup and visual effects. Weta Digital serves as the digital effects arm of Peter Jackson's film company and is a significant player in the digital arts field.

"I am thrilled about participating in the Pavilion as an Innovation Leader. The Pavilion will provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities," says Richard Taylor.

Neil Mackay says Richard Taylor has been on an incredible journey of discovery. "He went from the back room of a flat to a world renowned studio that employs up to 150 people at any one time. The technology they have developed is the envy of Hollywood."

"The two arms, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital work closely together. Weta Workshop is a more traditional effects facility which makes miniatures, props and prosthetics. Weta also creates many of the larger creatures in television shows like Xena, Warrior Princess, and Hercules. An animated creature, for example, often starts life as a physical model created by Workshop. This model is then given to Weta Digital that converts it into a digital creation on the computer using a hand-held scanner," says Richard Taylor.

Richard Taylor has been running a special effects facility in Wellington with partner, Tania Rodger, for the past 15 years.

"We started off as most people do, in a small flat where we were boarding. For several years we provided special effects and puppet work for numerous clients. In 1994 we joined Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk to form Weta Ltd in the hopes of supplying an all-inclusive special effects facility to the New Zealand film and television industry. Our first large task was producing the special effects for Heavenly Creatures.

"From Heavenly Creatures, it was onto Hercules, Xena, and The Frighteners - which then led to work on The Lord of the Rings. We created the dynamic computer animation and compositing for the trilogy. In order to create creatures which would look totally realistic, we wrote software that would create fat and muscle dynamics to enhance the realism of the creatures, says Richard Taylor.

Neil Mackay says the Pavilion represents Kiwi creativity and will be one of the most exciting, visible, recognisable and memorable sites during the America's Cup. "It's a dynamic multi-media experience involving over 60 multi-media screens taking each visitor on a personal journey as they move through the Pavilion."

The Carter Holt Harvey New Zealand Pavilion will also feature seven other Innovation Leaders which include: virtual reality technologist Dr Mark Billinghurst of the Human Interface Technology (HIT) Lab, fencing entrepreneur Bill Gallagher of Gallagher Group, literacy exporter Wendy Pye of Wendy Pye Group, multi-media entrepreneur Ian Taylor of Animation Research, software exporter and programmer Sir Gil Simpson of Jade Software Corporation, international fashion designer Karen Walker and biotechnology guru Dr Jim Watson of Genesis Research and Development Corporation.

The Pavilion has been developed by Industry New Zealand and represents a partnership between Industry New Zealand and the New Zealand business community.

Carter Holt Harvey is the naming rights sponsor of the Pavilion.



Industry New Zealand is the national economic development agency responsible for building a portfolio of world-class businesses in New Zealand.

The Carter Holt Harvey New Zealand Pavilion is an entertaining celebration of New Zealand's innovation heroes past, present and future. Located in the America's Cup Village in Auckland's American Express Viaduct Harbour, the New Zealand Pavilion will be open free to the public seven days a week from November 30. The New Zealand Pavilion is part of Industry New Zealand's commitment to inform, foster and develop New Zealanders' attitudes to enterprise, business growth and business success.

The multi-screened Pavilion experience includes Leadership Stories and Innovation Vignettes.

The Leadership Stories section narrates compelling personal stories from innovative businesspeople. It explores the motivations, passions and entrepreneurial spirit of some of New Zealand's business and innovation leaders.

The innovation leaders are:

* Dr Mark Billinghurst, inventor of the Magic Book whose pages come to life in the form of three-dimensional animated virtual scenes, and who heads Canterbury's innovative Human Interface Technology Lab. He won the 2001 Discover Magazine Award for Entertainment.

* Bill Gallagher, Group CEO and Chairman of Gallagher Group which has taken fencing wire around the world and is a global leader in animal management systems, integrated security and specialist plastic products. He is Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2002.

* Wendy Pye, President of the Wendy Pye Group, one of the world's biggest producers of literacy material for children. Her motto is simply "to teach the world to read".

* Sir Gil Simpson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Jade Corporation Limited, an international software company headquartered in Christchurch. He is the creator of LINC, a mainframe software development tool that has been New Zealand's most successful software export to date.

* Ian Taylor, Joint-founder of Animation Research Limited. Located in Dunedin, Animation Research Limited, one of Australasia's leading computer graphics production facilities. The company has won numerous national and international awards for its work in computer generated television commercials and is a leader in real time sports graphics.

* Richard Taylor, Co-president of Weta Workshop, New Zealand's foremost special effects workshop. He is a double Oscar winner for Makeup and Visual Effects for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

* Karen Walker, New Zealand's most famous fashion designer. Her work has been shown and exhibited around the world to great acclaim and is sold in select department stores and boutiques internationally.

* Dr Jim Watson, Chief Executive of Genesis Research and Development Corporation Limited, a discovery-based biotechnology company that identifies novel biological signalling systems that drive living processes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

The Innovation Vignettes section explores the breadth of innovative business activity with over 60 monitors featuring innovative companies in biotechnology, ICT, creative, and niche manufacturing industry sectors.


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