Giant Tripod launched to honour film industry

Published: Mon 14 Nov 2005 04:20 PM
14 November 2005
Giant Tripod launched to honour film industry
Mayor Kerry Prendergast will officially launch Tripod – a six-and-a-half metre high, bronze tripod figure designed and created by Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop as the city’s tribute to the film and television industry – at 1.15pm on Thursday 17 November.
Tripod is located on the corner of Courtenay Place and Cambridge Terrace, in the heart of the city’s film and entertainment district near the Embassy Theatre, home to several film premieres.
Mayor Prendergast describes Tripod as an audacious attention seeker. “It stops people in their tracks, you can’t fail to notice it. It’s a unique, creative, modern piece that’s already got people talking,” she says.
“Tripod is also a fantastic example of local ingenuity and creativity. Weta’s passion, energy and enthusiasm is clearly evident in this work. Tripod will, I am sure, become a much-loved and much-admired Wellington icon and another jewel in the city’s ever burgeoning crown. The film industry plays a vital role in the economy of our region and this is a very fitting tribute to it.”
The Council contributed $300,000, with Weta Workshop providing an additional $150,000 to create a tribute honouring the local film and television industry and its important contribution to the city and its economy. Tripod is a permanent piece of public art designed to celebrate and recognise the positive impact the industry has had, not only on Wellington City, but the entire region.
The tribute is a film camera on a tripod that appears to be composed from a collection of recycled mechanical parts including a video game console, toasted sandwich maker, radio and railway sleepers, with the camera made from an engine block and a hairdryer for the view finder. Described by Weta Workshop Director Richard Taylor as an out-of-control giant robot running amok in the city of Wellington, he says it symbolises the ingenuity and unbounded imagination that the New Zealand screen industry thrives on. “We wanted to pay tribute to the New Zealand screen industry’s number 8 wire attitude and ability to create with whatever is at hand,” he says.
Tripod was selected from a pool of nine possible concepts by an independent assessment panel including panel chair Neil Plimmer, local architect Ian Athfield, Yvonne Mackay from the Gibson Group, Jenny Harper, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of Victoria University, and Anne Noble, Research Director of the College of Design, Fine Arts and Music at Massey University.
Tripod – fact sheet
Height - 6.5 metres
Weight - 5 tonnes, specifically 4 tonnes of bronze and 1 tonne of steel which was used for the armature
Material used - steel and bronze - bronze on outside and steel for the armature;
Diameter - 6 metres
How Tripod was constructed
The intention was for it to appear to be made from railway sleepers for legs, excavator arms and hydraulic pistons, videogame console parts and toasted sandwich makers.
Its patterns were fabricated in foam, polystyrene, custom board, car-bog and found objects.
The bronze pieces were then assembled and welded around a stainless steel armature. Then a further level of customisation was added to make each part unique and create a sense of asymmetry.
Most technically difficult aspect of the design - the isolation of the bronze from the steel. None of the bronze touches the steel because if they did touch they would corrode. The two materials are held apart with specially designed joints.
Most difficult part to create in bronze - the camera-head which is comprised of an engine block.
Number of people who worked on it - 32 including:
- 4 welders
- 4-5 people who built fabricated patterns from which bronze components were created
- 8-15 sand casters (make moulds out of sand that bronze is cast in)
- Team of designers who worked on original brief
- 2-3 designers who conceptualised the tripod before design chosen
- 2-3 designers who made schematics of Tripod once the design had been chosen by the assessment panel in order to provide a more accurate feasibility study
- 1 model maker who made the design marquette
- 5-6 people who patined, polished and waxed it
- Concrete specialists who laid the foundations
- 1 project manager
- Richard Taylor who oversaw the entire thing.
- Contractors involved:
- The Heavy Metal Company (sand casting and bronze work)
- Dunning Thornton (engineering)
- CCL Construction Contracts Limited (on-site construction work)
- Clive Davis Transport (transport of Tripod)
- Titan Cranes Limited (provision of crane for installation process)
- Capital Scaffolding
- Hire Pool (who kindly donated equipment).
Approx number of hours: 10,100 hours over 11 months. Weta Workshop started making the patterns for Tripod back in February 2005, once the design had been chosen however actual concept short-listing began in November 2004.

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