King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands experienced a touch of movie magic on a visit to Park Road Post Production in Miramar this afternoon.
The first stop on their visit was the firm's automated dialogue recording room, where sound manager Nigel Scott welcomed them and talked them through the process as the Dutch ambassador to NZ Robert Zaagman recorded new dialogue for a scene from Tintin.
"This wasn't in our notes," the Queen noted about the surprise performance, laughing.
Then it was through to the foley room, where fresh sound effects were recorded for the scene.
Their majesties laughed heartily as the foley artist explained he needed to wear high heels when recording female footsteps.
The King marvelled at the creativity, asking, "How many new things are there left to invent?"
Then they visited the sound-mixing theatre, where Oscar winner Michael Hedges put the new sound effects and dialogue into the finished Tintin film.
Hedges joked, "We're going to show you a bit of magic. We told your ambassador not to give up his day job, but he's going to."
Sat on a couch that Sir Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh sat on to watch the Lord of the Rings films, the King notes, "This is comfortable enough to be refurbished and refurbished and refurbished." He asked lots of questions about the technology.
Then Weta Digital Oscar winner Joe Lettery demonstrated how they turned cartoon Tintin into a 3D character. When shown how the actors used camera technology, the King asked, "Does it require more exaggerated movement of the face?" It doesn't.
When it was revealed the two staff are Oscar winners, the royals congratulated them and got to hold the trophies. Máxima commented, "They're quite heavy! That the winners can hold these and give an acceptance speech..."
The King joked, "Are you sure it's real? Everything we've seen here has been fake. You've tricked us in so many ways." He concluded, "It's fantastic that New Zealand has developed this industry."
Next was a VIP visit to the off-limits set of the TV reboot of Thunderbirds, where they were shown around by Oscar winner Sir Richard Taylor.
Sir Richard explained that the show's handcrafted models hark back to an era before digital technology and are a revelation to modern children, saying, "Kids are forgetting about the handcrafted, organic hardware ... We don't want our son to get addicted to his iPad."
He also noted, "We've had adults of my age melting down on the floor," referring to fans of the original Thunderbirds.
The royals struggled to believe certain sets, like Lady Penelope's house, were made by hand. The Queen asked, "These are all entirely 3D-printed?"
She and the King giggled as Sir Richard showed off quirky details, like the "baddies' rocket ship", made out of rubbish bins and old computers.
The Queen marvelled, "Amazing!" At the end, she said, "That was wonderful. Thank you so much. It was really a great pleasure."