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Journey To Narnia
"One of the most inspiring things in our journey into Narnia was to work alongside such a remarkable artist, storyteller and visual persona as Andrew Adamson. The opportunity to raise our craft over and above what we did on ‘Lord of the Rings,' to bring it to bear on such a diversity of design and culture, has been a dream come true.” —Richard Taylor, WETA Workshop

To whom do you go to create an entire world populated by wildly imaginary creatures? One place has become legendary for their nearly magical skills in this department: Richard Taylor's WETA Workshop, the collective group of artists based in Wellington, New Zealand, who designed and created the visual and makeup effects for all three chapters of Peter Jackson's landmark "Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Adamson knew he needed WETA on his side in helping Narnia's creatures and all their battle accoutrements— weapons, armor, e t c . — b e c o m e reality.

Taylor, a four-time Academy Award® winner, was thrilled to enter another beloved fantasy universe, one that held out its own entirely unique challenges. "C.S. Lewis conceived of Narnia as a world of a child's dreams, where all mythologies come together. This gave us wonderful opportunities to design harpies, minotaurs, centaurs, and goblins, all interacting in the same fantastical world,” he says. "We also created dozens of species never before seen on the screen.”

While WETA conceived some ten species of creatures for Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings” trilogy, for THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, they bring to life a remarkable 60 different species of creatures, of which nearly half do not normally occur in nature. The WETA artists quickly became aware that while Tolkien and Lewis are often compared, the imaginary worlds they created were entirely different in style and texture. Due to Lewis' less detailed description, for Narnia, they had far freer reign.

"In the case of Narnia, you're entering through the back of the wardrobe, into a kind of dream universe, into this much more fancy, enriched world,” elaborates Taylor. "Therefore, there wasn't the same strict brief for us to hang our design on. We realized, thankfully, that we were able to bridge out at a much greater extent into fantasy, drawing on the rich mythology that C.S. Lewis' writings took on. It gave us a broader and richer palette of design than we had on ‘Lord of the Rings.'The many visual techniques we used combine to create a fully realized fantasy world the likes of which has never been seen on film. The craftspeople and technicians have pushed a new extreme of artistry in their pursuit to bring Narnia to the screen, which we hope will inspire a whole generation, young and old, to dream for themselves.”

One of WETA's most complicated creations for the film were the centaurs, the half-man, half-horse species—borne out of Greek mythology—which required human actors to wear animatronic horse bodies co-designed by Taylor's artisans and K.N.B.'s Howard Berger. "The centaurs were one of our more complicated characters,” Berger comments. "Richard Taylor and myself had previously done centaurs for ‘Hercules' and ‘Xena,' but we wanted to make these far better.”

Another challenge for WETA was the film's climactic battle, for which WETA Workshop complemented costumer Isis Mussenden's battle gear wardrobe with a spectacular array of more than 1,300 weapons, including swords, maces, shields, etcetera, and armor (150 metal and leather chest plates, patented, handmade chainmail). The magic was in the details. "It's the final touches that will make it feel like these were all made by craftsmen of Narnia,” Taylor notes. "We all hope that we played a small part in creating a world that feels cohesive and real and alive for audiences to enjoy.”

Working closely with both WETA and Adamson<

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