Book Review : The Art of District 9 by Weta Workshop

September 18, 2011

Product Description:
In 2009 Weta Workshop created a world so uncannily realistic that the special effects (in addition to an undeniably poignant plot) helped a low-budget film with an unknown cast become a blockbuster hit. Movie-goes, bloggers, and critics could not stop talking about Neill Blomkamp’s first feature film, District 9, the newest alien movie that has raised the bar for science fiction thrillers in the new century.

Weta Workshop’s artists created the special make-up effects, physical characteristics, alien weaponry, props, armor, custom vehicles and spaceships that were all stylized in a foreign yet familiar graphic language that defined the film’s distinctive alien aesthetic. This book illuminates the creative design process, detailing two years of interaction between Weta’s artists and director Neill Blomkamp in the form of hundreds of images of concept art from both the designers and director, stunning photographs of the props and sculptures, and insightful remarks from the artists themselves. Many of the images included in this book have never been seen before, including work cut or barely glimpsed in the finished film. Written by designer Daniel Falconer with a foreword by Neill Blomkamp and introduction by Richard Taylor (multi Academy Award winning special effects and make-up artist and head of Weta), The Art of District 9 offers an unrivalled, front row glimpse into the creative minds and hands that shaped this amazing film.

About the Author:
Daniel Falconer has been a designer at Weta Workshop for more than a decade, producing conceptual art as part of the design team on many of the company’s high profile projects, including The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the short-lived Halo movie adaptation. Daniel wrote and collated Weta’s first two books, The World of Kong (Simon & Schuster, 2005) and The Crafting of Narnia (HarperOne, 2008), art books that showcased the illustrative work of the entire design departments behind on King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia movies, and has provided descriptive copy for movie-based toys and collectibles including The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. He lives in Wellington with his wife Catherine and two daughters, reveling in his dream career of playing in imaginary worlds every day.

District 9 – one of the most successful movies of 2009. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. If you are familiar with what we’ve mentioned thus far, you’ll surely be familiar with the artwork from the movie.

Thanks to Richard Taylor, Weta’s Creative Director and five time Academy Award winner, together with designers Greg Broadmore, David Meng, Leri Greer and Christian Pearce, their contributions worth over hundreds of pieces of conceptual art has been gathered in this beautiful 160-page hard-cover book and we must say it is an outstanding read indeed. Not just for the fans of the movie but also the designers and CG artists out there, this book is a bible to one of the greatest creations of alien movie history.

The guns, the aliens, the vehicles, the graphic language – the world of District 9 was all designed and developed by Weta Workshop (if you do not know already). This book tells us stories from start to finish and illustrates the conceptual design process of District 9. How early sketches developed and evolved into the movie you saw on your screens.

The most astounding part of this book is the details of each conceptual art created and also sculptures produced for the film. Coming from a design background myself, it was such a humbling read because the amount of work put into creating the world of District 9 is no small task and I salute the team at Weta for an amazing job well done. This book has got to be one of the best reads in conceptual art history.

The Art of District 9 by Weta Workshop features:

* Cover Design by Leri Greer
* Foreword by Director Neill Blomkamp
* Introduction by Richard Taylor
* Behind-the-scenes photographs
* Commentary and quotes from the director and artists
* More than 650 pieces of concept art
* More than 200 photographs of conceptual sculptures and finished props
* Two-dozen concepts and sketches from director Neill Blomkamp
* Many images of props not seen in the final cut of the film
* …and much more…

Highly Recommended.

Fat Kids Rating 10/10 (even if you’re not a fan of the movie you’d agree to this rating after you’ve seen the contents of this book)

words by Benny Teh

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