Sir Richard Taylor

Photo of Sir Richard Taylor
Wellington

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Sir Richard Taylor is the founder, creative director and head of New Zealand film prop and special effects company Weta Workshop. Weta Workshop is a multi-award winning design studio and physical manufacturing facility servicing the world's entertainment and creative industries.

Richard is best known for his work on the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings (2001–03), directed and adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels by New Zealand director Sir Peter Jackson.

Sir Richard Taylor grew up south of Auckland and studied graphic design at Wellington Polytechnic (later merged with Massey University). In 1987, Taylor and his creative partner, Tania Rodger, opened RT Effects, the forerunner of Weta.

One of Richard’s first projects involved the creation of more than 70 puppet caricatures for the New Zealand television satire Public Eye (1988), which was modeled after the British TV program Spitting Image.

Sir Richard Taylor’s work at Weta concentrated primarily on physical effects and the design and construction of creatures and props. For the first 10 years, he was responsible for most of the sculpting that took place. He refined his techniques while working on the miniseries adaptation of American novelist Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers (1993); several episodes of the TV shows Xena: Warrior Princess and Young Hercules; and Jackson’s film The Frighteners (1996).

In his work on The Lord of the Rings, Richard advanced his animatronics innovations, giving them greater dynamic range, by combining physical models with digital technologies. He and his Weta technicians also created a series of “bigatures,” oversized miniature models that were designed to emphasize the immense scale of Tolkien’s fictional world by being large enough to enable sophisticated camera work while remaining small enough to fit within the studio space.

The Weta team also designed all the costumes, weapons, and armor for the trilogy. The work culminated in four Academy Awards and three British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards in the areas of makeup, costume design, and visual effects.

Sir Richard Taylor was the recipient of numerous other awards, including an Academy Award and a BAFTA for visual effects for his work on Jackson’s King Kong (2005). He also served as the miniature-effects supervisor for Australian film director Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) and as the creative supervisor for New Zealand director Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). He also served as a costume designer for Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).

Sir Richard Taylor was named the 2012 New Zealander of the Year. He was knighted in 2010.

See more of Sir Richard Taylor's work at Weta Workshop.

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