Weta Digital Develops 'Lord Of The Rings' Visual Effects On IBM Linux Intellistations

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND & LOS ANGELES, CA - 30 May 2002: Wellington-based digital effects facility Weta Digital, Ltd. will move a significant proportion of production work related to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy onto IBM Intellistations running Linux.

IBM will supply Weta Digital with more than 150 6580-WEA Intellistation work stations with 21" CRTs by the end of 2002.

Jon Labrie, who led the project for Weta Digital said "We chose IBM we were impressed with both the level of commitment to Linux on an organizational level, and the skills of the IBM Linux team members.

"Failure is not an option. I needed an organization with a commitment as strong as my own to Linux. We're betting a good portion of our business on it. So has IBM. Our interests are in alignment, and that's always a good starting point for a business relationship" said Labrie.

Labrie is responsible for the implementation, over the last year, of Linux as the primary operating system within the facility.

The primary motivation for the shift to Linux has been cost. "Linux makes development work much more cost effective for us" said Labrie. "The financial reasons for moving to Linux were compelling, as we're still growing at a phenomenal rate and we need to be able to support that growth in the most cost effective manner"

Weta Digital had run Linux on servers for two years and the success there in terms of price and performance was the catalyst that led to the investigation of Linux workstation options in the marketplace and the decision to partner with IBM.

The first of the new machines were installed at Weta Digital in early May for use by the special effects artists working on The Two Towers, the second film in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

IBM New Zealand Southern Region Manager Sunil Joshi says the deal represents a significant win for IBM: "This deal showcases the value proposition of IBM's Digital Media -- Digital Content Creation Solution designed to support animators, special effects wizards and digital media producers, and highlights our total commitment to Linux, being able to benchmark that commitment through significant deals like this is proof of our ability to deliver on our promise to the Linux market."

Weta Digital was formed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1993 by a group of young New Zealand film makers. The Weta is an endangered species of native New Zealand insect. The company quickly grew into a full service visual effects facility, working closely with sister company, Weta Workshop, to provide multi-disciplinary services for the film and television industry. In 2002 the companies were awarded two Oscars for their work on the first film in the Peter Jackson directed Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

The IBM Digital Content Creation solution combines the IBM Intellistation range of workstations and the highest level of PC technology and performance with the Linux operating system, in one complete solution for the media & entertainment industry. Featuring powerful graphics engines, enhanced processing power and extended memory the IBM Intellistation provides exceptional workstation performance with the added advantage of offering the user considerable cost savings.

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