Monday, June 10, 2013

Update on "Hermes as Smaug model" comment in previous post

UPDATE from the previous post:

I've just heard a comment directly from Hermes himself (via his handler) about the details leaked of his Smauginess...

Totally Smaug's eye...?

can I please make a small correction to the above piece.
My handler said that del Toro had mentioned a description of Smaug once and it sounded similar to me, (but so do many dragons…) we know nothing more than the rest of the public do.
I’m simply a reference animal at digi, nothing more.

thanks for all the love and awesome pictures!

And here’s the link to the [del Toro] comment on
Happy to come to the moot and meet though.


 So what have we learned?
  1. Hermes was indeed a reference animal for Weta Digital
  2. Guillermo del Toro had a specific design in mind for Smaug
  3. His ideas sounded similar to what Hermes looks like, in some ways
  4. Hermes can type, and has access to the internet
What does that all mean? Not all that much, I'm guessing. 
  1. Hermes may have been one of many reference animals, physical or otherwise, for Smaug.
  2. Guillermo del Toro is no longer involved with the design process, and I'm guessing the art direction has completely changed since he was at the helm.
  3. Hermes reads our blog, and would like to visit the Welly-moot
Welly-moot's newest member, Hermes?
Hermes, we'd love to host you. Please bring your handler, Shirley! By the time our next meeting rolls around on July the 14th, the new Hobbit trailer will have been released (the day after tomorrow, in fact), so perhaps we'll have seen a glimpse of Smaug by then. We'd love to have Smaug as the main discussion!

What else have we learnt?
  1. We have a theme for the next Welly-moot! :)

Thanks Hermes!

   - Jack

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Welly-moot goes to the Weta Cave's 5th birthday party

The Weta Cave celebrated its 5th birthday this week - they first opened their doors to the public at 11:00am, on the 6th of June, 2008. As it happened, Alex and I were the first two through the doors on the day (ok, she was first, but I was holding the doors open for her).

Daniel Reeve
We weren't as quick off the mark today, five years (and two days) later. We arrived at the Weta Cave just around 1:30pm, halfway through an enormous queue for Weta's calligrapher/cartographer Daniel Reeve, who was selling his new Hobbit Birthday Party Invitations, and handwriting people's names onto them with his calligraphy skills. I had brought my map of The Shire (after taking it off my wall), and he signed it for me. Oddly, since his work covers a lot of my mancave's wall, I didn't have his autograph yet!

Mark Hadlow (aka Dori, and Bert)
While we were waiting, we spotted Dwarf actor Mark Hadlow elsewhere in the mass of people, and Chief Wizard Richard Taylor as well.

Alex with Jed Brophy (aka Nori) and an enormous smile on her face
The call went up that there was another Dwarf on the premises, and sure enough, Jed Brophy had arrived also.


Alex, still smiling, with Tania Rodger
After Daniel Reeve graciously signed my (his?) map, we went outside, and met up with Tania Rodger, Weta Workshop manager (and partner of Richard Taylor).

Various other people, including Warren Beatton and Dave Tremont came by to join in the celebrations, cake was eaten, and balloons added to the happy occasion.

Mad scientist and Welly-mooter, Warren.
Richard Taylor with Alex, and her autographed Hobbit book

Dave Tremont, Doctor Who fan #1, and creator of the miniature Barad-Dur

One interesting tale came to hand - in the morning a very special guest had been introduced to the crowds - Hermes the Blue Tongue Skink.

I was initially unclear about why he'd been invited (apart from being pretty awesome), but his handler/owner, Shirley Jones, mentioned offhand that he had been a digital model for Smaug when Guillermo Del Toro was still directing. I couldn't draw her out on more detail, so I'm not sure if Smaug still looks like Hermes, or how much, but that was an interesting snippet of information!?!

 I'm pretty sure this will be discussed at the next meeting - quite a few Welly-mooters had made their way to the event as well. I saw Annabel, Warren, Erin, Cinnamon, Elliot, and Ryan and Hawk. Did I miss anyone?

As an unrelated side-note, Alex and I are on our way to Japan next week, we'll be back for the next meeting (July 14th). Hope to see you all there! I'll be available via email sporadically if anyone needs me (but please don't need me).

  - Jack

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Welly-moot goes to Armageddon!

Armageddon is in full swing.

That sounded wrong. I don't mean the end of the world is nigh - Armageddon is Wellington's annual fantasy convention. This year, it was held at the Westpac Stadium (where some of the Lord Of The Rings' sound effects were recorded, back in 1999).

I'd spoken about the event to Annabel Graham, the jeweller who has created our gorgeous badges for us (see right-hand side-bar, here on our blog). Annabel had offered a bit of wall space from her Whovian Jewellery stand for our banner, and I had two days off between LOTR-touring to help her out a bit, so I decided to take her up on her offer.

The event started today (Saturday), so on Friday we came to set up the stand.

The Welly-moot banner was still on bamboo sticks from the last event, which I thought might help hold it up, but in the morning it had fallen over. Luckily I'd brought some tacks in with me, which solved the problem completely.

Pic: At 8:30am, the queues had already started; the show wouldn't open until 10:00am!

I spent a fun (if tiring) Saturday with Annabel, discussing rather a lot of Doctor Who with rather a lot of Doctor Who fans.

I didn't take photos of all the Doctor Who fans, but here's a few special visitors for the Welly-moot. Pay special attention to the last two photos! :)

Pic: Welly-mooters Erin & Erika were the first to say hello, and promptly bought their Welly-moot badges

Pic: Welly-mooter Wayne soon appeared as well, in appropriate attire.

Pic: Welly-mooter Cinnamon came to say Hello as well. Apparently Ash was there as well but I arrived too late with my camera.

Pic: Oh, and did I mention Radagast the Brown? Radagast the Brown also came by.

Pic : Although what possible appeal a Doctor Who Jewellery store would hold for Sylvester McCoy is beyond me. ;)

All in all, a fun day, and we got to meet some awesome people. Apart from the obvious, we also ran into "our" Riventroll sculptor Kim Beaton who was doing live sculpting demonstrations with the newly named concrete "Pal Tiya", and Weta effects wizard Gino Acevedo. If you are in Wellington for the next two days, make your way to the Westpac Stadium - over the next few days there will be a lot more Hobbit actors around!

  - Jack