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Wētā Workshop Unleashed: making the makeup mirror


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Wētā Workshop has developed its very own interactive tourist attraction in Auckland, New Zealand. Wētā Workshop Unleashed is a 90-minute , family-friendly experience packed to the rafters with new and original Wētā Workshop creations. Set against a backdrop of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, it is an exploration of how our crew create special effects and physical props for the film industry.

Wētā Workshop’s Interactive division tells stories via games and technology. For Wētā Workshop Unleashed the team wanted to show visitors how we use prosthetics to breathe life into imaginative characters and creatures. All of this is crafted with a Wētā Workshop twist.

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Virtually unordinary

The Makeup Mirror is nestled in the attraction’s exploration of horror films. They appear to be ordinary makeup mirrors; straight from a film set or green room. The mirrors are framed by lightbulbs and there’s a comfortable seat for guests to settle into.

From the reflection of the first mirror helpful hands appear and transform  the users face, demonstrating  how our prosthetic department transform actors with silicon-based warts, boil poxed skin and more. The reflection shows each detail applied to the user’s face.  The final look is straight out of a horror movie but we won't spoil all the surprises.

 The second Makeup Mirror demonstrates how our prosthetics department create fantastical creatures for film. In this case, the user in the hot seat is transformed into a menacing rabbit. The bodiless hands apply a silicon bunny mask, furry texture, bouncy ears, stylised lenses and ghastly teeth.

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For this sequence, we focused on exaggerating facial features. We pushed the user’s nose, ears, cheeks teeth to their limit, until the user morphed into a horrific creature. This is the underlying method for how Wētā Workshop creates noses for dwarves and ears for elves in our fantastical films.

Jordan Peat Junior Experience Designer, Wētā Workshop

Augmenting reality

The project began as an augmented reality experience showing a cut across the user’s face. This initial R&D was used to see how much detail could be applied and how the abrasion would look as the user tilted their head at various angles. With each movement, the abrasion would need to squash and stretch in a realistic manner.


Amie Wolken, Lead Programmer says, "the biggest consideration when programming within augmented reality is anticipating how the virtual content will integrate with the real world, without breaking the reality of the experience. We considered how each prosthetic would be applied to a visitor who moved their head. We accommodated for various head sizes, and people who wore hats, glasses or had large beards." 

Weta Workshop Interactive Division Makeup Mirror


Amie Wolken was onsite to help with the physical install, "At our soft launch, we had 2,200 people through the exhibition doors. The mirrors withstood the heavy use incredibly well – largely because we anticipated many possible scenarios."


Wētā Workshop Unleashed is fast becoming a must-do for Kiwis visiting Auckland and Aucklanders alike. After working within mixed reality on the Magic Leap device, our Interactive crew are delighted to share their work with a domestic audience on a large scale and new platform. Tickets to Wētā Workshop Unleashed are on sale now.

Weta Workshop Interactive Division Makeup Mirror

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