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Warcraft: Weapons

Erik Hay

Director of Creative Strategy

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With a clash of steel on steel, Warcraft has exploded onto the big screen. The Duncan Jones-directed fantasy epic from Legendary Pictures, based on Blizzard’s massively popular game franchise, combines digital effects with an army of physical props, armour and weaponry. Weta Workshop manufactured over 90 suits of armour and more than 600 weapons to kit out the arsenals of Warcraft’s human stars: among them, Sir Lothar (Travis Fimmel), King Llane (Dominic Cooper) and Lady Taria (Ruth Negga).

Weta Workshop is known for its work on fantasy blockbusters The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and Avatar; but the chance to tackle a fully-realised computer game universe – with legions of fans all over the world – doesn’t present itself all that often.  To replicate Warcraft’s ultra-polished aesthetic in a series of swords, spears, daggers, axes and armour, Workshop Supervisor Rob Gillies led the crew through a complex, labour-intensive project that called upon the A to Z of Workshop specialties.

For armour, the challenge lay in translating Warcraft’s highly-stylised computer game proportions, into functional, wearable, elements.

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Converting the gameworld proportions of Warcraft into those of the real world was a unique challenge for us. We had to make sure our armour and weaponry could be worn by the actors on-set, while also capturing the larger-than-life essence of the game.

Rob Gillies Workshop Supervisor, Weta Workshop.
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Thankfully, Weta Workshop had the benefit of working from concepts and models supplied by Warcraft production designer Gavin Bocquet and costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo. Through a process of prototyping and movement studies using body doubles, the Workshop achieved a wearable finish that stayed true to the original designs. Beginning as prototypes made from semi-rigid foam, the final components were 3D printed and cast in urethane ready to do battle on-set in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Nothing is as it seems in the world of film, and battle-ready weaponry is no exception. Weta Workshop crafted hundreds of background weapons from foam and rubber, with special cut-down blades for scenes on horseback. Stunt weapons were manufactured out of soft foam and even bamboo. Through clever design and paintwork, they’re indistinguishable from their steel and bronze counterparts.

Over in the Armoury, Weta Workshop’s resident swordsmith Peter Lyon was called upon to create a series of intricate aluminium “hero” swords for the lead actors. Peter used milling machines designed by Workshop engineer Jordan Thomson to fashion a series of beautiful swords with decorative blades. To embellish the hilts, the crew 3D printed replicas of semi-precious jewels, cast in resin.

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It’s always great fun to immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds, but this time Weta Workshop had the chance to step into a computer game world – a fantastic opportunity! I’m tremendously proud of what our manufacturing teams have been able to accomplish for Warcraft.

Sir Richard Taylor CEO and Co-founder, Weta Workshop.
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Moviegoers’ Warcraft experience doesn’t have to end when the lights come on. Fans and collectors can now own a piece of the film themselves. Weta Workshop’s Consumer Products team has launched a range of high-end prop replicas and polystone collectibles to accompany the film’s release. Available to pre-order online, the range will ship this June and July.

In the end, Weta Workshop’s final tally for Legendary Pictures’ armour-and-effects-laden fantasy epic lies at nearly 700 individual pieces.  Fans can see them all in action now, slashing and burning their way through Azeroth amidst dazzling CGI by visual effects house Industrial Light and Magic. With the release of Weta Workshop’s new collectibles line, the Warcraft experience can last far beyond the realm of the screen.

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