Daniel Falconer is one of the many talented designers at Weta Workshop who have helped bring to life the world of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
Ever since he was a child, Daniel has been fascinated by make-believe worlds. He credits the works of Jim Henson for inspiration. Films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, along with the original Star Wars trilogy were very influential and fueled his passion to work in design.
Daniel first met Weta Workshop founder Richard Taylor while working at a workshop near his home in West Auckland, New Zealand. Richard was impressed with his work and invited Daniel to his studio in Wellington. Daniel fell in love with Weta Workshop after spending a week there, and Taylor and crew liked him as well. Daniel has been with Weta Workshop since 1996.
Working at Weta Workshop has provided Daniel with doing something he loves and also allowing him to have fun at the same time. One of the first couple projects he worked on were the shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. But it was when Peter Jackson hired Weta Workshop to work on his film version of The Lord of the Rings that Daniel’s talent was allowed to really shine through.
Daniel Falconer is a long-time Tolkien fan and it was a dream come true to work on The Lord of the Rings, and now The Hobbit. His passion for the world of Middle-earth helped fuel his designs for the different races. Some of his work is featured in the books The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Art of The Two Towers, The Art of The Return of the King, and The Lord of the Rings Weapons and Warfare, just to name a few. One of his favorite characters to create was Treebeard of the Ents.
His love for Tolkien’s world and trivia is well-known among those at Weta Workshop and by producer Peter Jackson. In an interview with PopMatters, Daniel reflects back on a time when the color of Orc blood was questioned:
“Peter Jackson was reviewing our tests in the cinema at work to see what he liked the best. We had green blood, blue blood, brown blood, yellow, black, etc., all created to help differentiate the Orcs from the other races and also to skirt the blood issue, which can affect ratings. Non-red blood can be splattered in much larger quantities before a film receives an extreme classification, so if our Orcs bled a different color, we could see quite a few more receive grizzly deaths than if they spouted crimson. After looking at the tests, Peter asked aloud of the darkened cinema, ‘Is Daniel here?’ ‘Yes,’ I gingerly replied. ‘Does Tolkien mention anything about Orc blood?’ he asked, to which I was able to reply, ‘He describes them as black-blooded, sir.’ Peter responded, ‘Well, there’s our decision then.’ That felt great and legitimized many a school lunchtime spent indoors reading when I should have been outside kicking around a ball.”
Like many others who worked on The Lord of the Rings films, Daniel even got to have a cameo in The Two Towers. He played one of the Galadhrim archers along the wall in the Helms Deep battle sequence. In the screen grab below, he is a little out of focus just to the right of Aragorn. (For more LOTR cameos, please visit Cameos and Special Extras in The Lord of The Rings at FantasiaDomain.
The elvish standards that appear on some pages of the website are of Falconer’s design. To read more about Daniel Falconer and to see samples of his work, please visit some of the following sites and check out the books listed below.
Books to check out:
(Note: The following are out of print but can still be obtained through Amazon resellers)