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Valentine Ershov
Valentine Ershov

The Art of District 9: Weta Workshop - An Unrivaled Glimpse into the Film's Design and Effects


The Art of District 9: Weta Workshop - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of a Sci-Fi Masterpiece




District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. It tells the story of an extraterrestrial race, nicknamed "Prawns", who are forced to live in a slum-like district in Johannesburg, South Africa, after their spaceship malfunctions and strands them on Earth. The film explores themes of xenophobia, social segregation, and human rights, as well as showcasing stunning visual effects and action sequences.




The Art Of District 9 Weta Workshop PDF.pdf


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Weta Workshop is a New Zealand-based company that specializes in creating physical and digital effects for films, television, and video games. They are best known for their work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Avatar, and The Hobbit trilogy. Weta Workshop was responsible for designing and creating the alien technology, creatures, weapons, vehicles, sets, and prosthetics for District 9.


The Art of District 9: Weta Workshop is a book that details the two years of interaction between Weta Workshop's artists, director Neill Blomkamp, and multi Academy Award winner Richard Taylor. It gives an unrivaled glimpse into how the film was put together, shining a spotlight on the intricate creations and artistic processes. The book features hundreds of images, sketches, paintings, sculptures, models, and photographs that reveal the incredible imagination and craftsmanship behind District 9.


The Conceptual Design Process




One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working on District 9 was the conceptual design process. Weta Workshop's artists had to come up with original and realistic designs for the alien technology, creatures, characters, and environments that would fit the vision of Neill Blomkamp and the tone of the film.


The Alien Technology




The alien technology in District 9 was inspired by organic forms, such as insects, crustaceans, plants, and fungi. The artists wanted to create a contrast between the sleek and elegant alien technology and the gritty and dirty human technology. They also wanted to make the alien technology look functional and believable, as if it had evolved over time.


Some of the most iconic examples of alien technology in District 9 are the spaceship, the dropship, the weapons, and the exo-suit. The spaceship was designed to look like a giant seed pod that had landed on Earth by accident. The dropship was a smaller version of the spaceship that could detach and fly around. The weapons were based on biological principles, such as firing projectiles made of organic matter or using electrical impulses to stun or kill enemies. The exo-suit was a massive armored suit that could enhance the wearer's strength and agility.


The Prawns




The Prawns are the extraterrestrial race that live in District 9. They are named after the prawns, or shrimp, that they resemble. The artists wanted to make the Prawns look alien and insect-like, but also sympathetic and expressive. They also wanted to give them a cultural and social identity, as well as a biological and anatomical one.


The Prawns have a complex life cycle that involves different stages of development and metamorphosis. They have a caste system that divides them into workers, soldiers, and leaders. They have a language that consists of clicks, hisses, and gestures. They have a religion that worships their spaceship as a god. They have a diet that consists of cat food, metal, and garbage. They have a sense of humor, curiosity, and emotion.


The MNU and Wikus




The MNU, or Multi-National United, is the corporation that is in charge of managing District 9 and exploiting the alien technology. They are the main antagonists of the film, as they oppress and abuse the Prawns for their own gain. The artists wanted to make the MNU look like a realistic and powerful organization, with a logo, uniforms, vehicles, and weapons that reflected their authority and brutality.


Wikus van der Merwe is the protagonist of the film, who works as a field operative for the MNU. He is assigned to evict the Prawns from District 9 and relocate them to a new camp. However, he accidentally gets exposed to an alien substance that causes him to mutate into a hybrid of human and Prawn. He becomes hunted by the MNU, who want to harvest his body for research. He also becomes allies with a Prawn named Christopher Johnson, who wants to help him reverse his condition and return to his spaceship.


Wikus is played by Sharlto Copley, who improvised most of his dialogue and performance. The artists wanted to make Wikus look like an ordinary and relatable person, who undergoes a dramatic physical and emotional transformation throughout the film. They also wanted to make his mutation look realistic and horrifying, as well as sympathetic and heroic.


The Exo-Suit and the Final Battle




The exo-suit is one of the most important pieces of alien technology in District 9. It is a huge armored suit that can be controlled by a Prawn or a hybrid. It has various weapons and abilities, such as rockets, machine guns, claws, shields, and camouflage. It is also the key to activating the dropship and escaping from District 9.


The final battle of the film takes place at District 9, where Wikus wears the exo-suit to fight against the MNU soldiers and mercenaries. He also tries to protect Christopher and his son, who are trying to reach the dropship. The artists wanted to make the final battle look epic and thrilling, as well as emotional and meaningful. They also wanted to make the exo-suit look powerful and awesome, as well as vulnerable and damaged.


The Practical Effects and Props




Another challenging and rewarding aspect of working on District 9 was creating the practical effects and props for the film. Weta Workshop was responsible for building and operating the physical models, sculptures, weapons, vehicles, sets, prosthetics, makeup, costumes, puppets, animatronics, pyrotechnics, and miniatures for District 9.


The Weapons and Armor




The weapons and armor in District 9 were designed to reflect the different factions and cultures in the film. The alien weapons were organic and elegant, while the human weapons were mechanical and crude. The Prawns wore minimal armor made of scavenged materials, while the MNU soldiers wore heavy armor made of metal and plastic.


Weta Workshop created hundreds of weapons and armor pieces for District 9. Some of them were functional props that could fire blanks or compressed air. Some of them were digital props that could be added or enhanced in post-production. Some of them were replicas or modifications of existing weapons or armor.


The Vehicles and Sets




The vehicles and sets in District 9 were designed to create a realistic and immersive world for the film. The alien vehicles were sleek and futuristic, while the human vehicles were rugged and militaristic. The District 9 set was a sprawling slum filled with shacks, trash, graffiti, posters, signs, wires, pipes, barrels, tires, fences, gates, and towers.


Weta Workshop created dozens of vehicles and sets for District 9. Some of them were full-scale models that could be driven or flown. Some of them were miniature models that could be filmed or composited. Some of them were real locations that could be dressed or modified.


The Prosthetics and Makeup




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