SGI Technology Powers Weta Digital's 'The Lord of the Rings' Film Trilogy

Hundreds of SGI Visual Workstations and Storage Products Create and Manage Up

To 100 Terabytes of Data



Jan 02, 2002, 00:00 ET from SGI

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- SGI (NYSE:   SGI) today
 announced that Weta Digital evoked the power of more than 230 SGI(R) IRIX(R)
 OS-based and SGI Linux(TM) OS-based visual workstations, storage products and
 servers for production, postproduction and visual effects on the much
 anticipated live-action, CGI-laden 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy. Weta
 Limited shot all three films simultaneously with Weta Digital, its digital
 effects arm, concurrently producing more than 1,200 visual effects shots. The
 Wellington, New Zealand, company is using a full complement of IRIX OS-based
 Silicon Graphics(R) Octane(R) and Silicon Graphics(R) Onyx2(R) visual
 workstations, SGI(R) Origin(R) family servers, and SGI Linux OS-based visual
 workstations and servers to create and manage up to 100TB of data. Released by
 New Line Cinema, the first film, 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' premiered in
 the U.S. on Dec. 19. The second film, 'The Two Towers,' is scheduled for a
 December 2002 release, and the third, 'The Return of the King,' for
 December 2003.
     Directed by Peter Jackson, the movie trilogy is based on the popular epic
 adventures written by J.R.R. Tolkien that feature the world of Middle-Earth-a
 place inhabited by hobbits, elves, dwarfs, wizards and trolls, plus other
 fantastical creatures including orcs, wraiths and balrogs. The films each
 require dozens of digital human/humanoid characters plus lead creatures who
 are entirely CGI-created, vast CGI landscapes, battle scenes with hundreds of
 thousands of animated characters and more special effects than you can shake a
 wizard's staff at.
     Weta Digital, which has been working on the trilogy for over four years,
 built a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up. More than 150 artists,
 keyframe animators, modelers, digital paint artists, motion editors,
 compositors and numerous software engineers were provided with 150 Octane
 visual workstations, which run Alias|Wavefront(TM) Maya(R) as the facility's
 core 3D application; an eight-processor Onyx2 system running Discreet inferno
 for compositing; and 80 dual-processor Silicon Graphics(R) 330 and Silicon
 Graphics(R) 230 Linux(R) OS-based workstations, which are used for a
 combination of paint, rotoscoping and compositing duties. Two SGI(R) file
 servers using SGI(R) TP9400 storage arrays, StorageTek Tape Robots and SGI(R)
 Origin(R) 2000 server technology provide a combination of 4TB of online
 storage and more than 20TB of nearline storage as a global storage repository
 to support workstation information sharing.
     "What we're about is the ability to move large amounts of information
 around the facility all day, every day, and we rely on SGI to help us do that.
 Ninety percent of our equipment is SGI," said Jon Labrie, chief technical
 officer of Weta Digital. For nearline/offline storage Weta Digital uses DMF,
 the SGI hierarchical storage management system, which is already managing 50TB
 of information. "SGI DMF has greatly simplified our management of the
 thousands of tapes needed to store the bulk of the data," Labrie added.
     From the beginning of preproduction, Weta Digital has also used the IRIX
 OS-based Octane visual workstations to write extensions to Maya and create
 proprietary technology. This technology includes Massive, a custom-built crowd
 animation or "artificial ecology" system developed on IRIX and now ported to
 Linux that draws from a huge database of motion-capture data.
     "We're using Massive for battle animation scenes with hundreds of
 thousands of fighting, screaming and dying orcs, elves and all the other
 magical and fantastical creatures that appear in The Lord of the Rings,"
 Labrie continued. "For these sorts of graphical challenges we prefer to work
 in the world of IRIX and UNIX(R). The graphics engines available to us on the
 SGI platforms make our jobs easier. We are so thrilled with the latest
 increase in performance and quality with the new Octane2 system that we've
 enlisted it for our next production."
     Weta Digital purchased the Silicon Graphics(R) Octane2(TM) visual
 workstation running Discreet flame software to help in the final phases of
 postproduction. Octane2 offers high-performance VPro(TM) V12 graphics with
 perspective-correct color and texture, extremely realistic blending of colors
 for transparent objects and high-quality volume visualization using 3D
 textures. The new Octane2 system will now be put to work on the next film.
 Weta's primary rendering resource is based on SGI(R) 1100 and SGI(R) 1200
 Linux OS-based servers. Having started with 32 dedicated processors, the
 facility currently runs 192 dual-processor SGI servers rendering frames
 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
     "Weta Digital's purchase of both SGI IRIX and SGI Linux technology is an
 excellent example of choosing the right tool for the right job," said Jason
 Danielson, director of marketing, Media Industries, SGI. "It is testimony to
 how both operating systems can work together seamlessly to produce, render,
 manage and store powerful visual effects ranging from the photorealistic to
 the universe of human imagination."
 
     About SGI
     SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, is the world's leading provider of
 high-performance computing, complex data management and visualization
 products, services and solutions that enable its technical and creative
 customers to gain strategic and competitive advantages in their core
 businesses. Whether being used to design and build safer cars and airplanes,
 discover new medications and oil reserves, predict the weather, entertain us
 with thrilling movie special effects or provide mission-critical support for
 government and defense, SGI systems and expertise are empowering a world of
 innovation and discovery. The company, located on the Web at www.sgi.com, is
 headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and has offices worldwide.
 
     About Weta Digital
     Weta Digital Ltd. is Australasia's premiere digital visual effects studio,
 with established pipelines encompassing all aspects of modern digital effects
 production. Core competencies include CG creature design, animation,
 environments, crowd generation and control, digital compositing and film
 scanning and recording. The facility is based in Wellington, New Zealand.
 Contact Jamie Selkirk at +64.4.380.9080. Their Web site is
 www.wetadigital.com.
 
     NOTE:  Silicon Graphics, SGI, Octane, Onyx2, Onyx, Origin, IRIX and the
 SGI logo are registered trademarks and Octane2 and VPro are trademarks of
 Silicon Graphics, Inc. SGI Linux is a trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc.
 Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds, used with permission by
 Silicon Graphics, Inc. Maya is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics,
 Inc, used exclusively by Alias|Wavefront, a division of Silicon Graphics
 Limited. Alias|Wavefront is a trademark of Alias|Wavefront, a division of
 Silicon Graphics Limited. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in
 the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the
 property of their respective owners.
 
     (Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010510/SFTH025LOGO )
 
     CONTACT:  Lisa Pistacchio, +1-650-933-5683, or pistacchio@sgi.com, or
 Sharon Boh, +65-771-0286, or Sharonb@sgi.com, or Linda Koh, +65-771-0285, or
 Lindakoh@sgi.com, or SGI PR Hotline, +1-650-933-7777, or SGI PR Fax, +1-650-
 932-0737, all of SGI.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X31601311
 
 

SOURCE SGI
    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- SGI (NYSE:   SGI) today
 announced that Weta Digital evoked the power of more than 230 SGI(R) IRIX(R)
 OS-based and SGI Linux(TM) OS-based visual workstations, storage products and
 servers for production, postproduction and visual effects on the much
 anticipated live-action, CGI-laden 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy. Weta
 Limited shot all three films simultaneously with Weta Digital, its digital
 effects arm, concurrently producing more than 1,200 visual effects shots. The
 Wellington, New Zealand, company is using a full complement of IRIX OS-based
 Silicon Graphics(R) Octane(R) and Silicon Graphics(R) Onyx2(R) visual
 workstations, SGI(R) Origin(R) family servers, and SGI Linux OS-based visual
 workstations and servers to create and manage up to 100TB of data. Released by
 New Line Cinema, the first film, 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' premiered in
 the U.S. on Dec. 19. The second film, 'The Two Towers,' is scheduled for a
 December 2002 release, and the third, 'The Return of the King,' for
 December 2003.
     Directed by Peter Jackson, the movie trilogy is based on the popular epic
 adventures written by J.R.R. Tolkien that feature the world of Middle-Earth-a
 place inhabited by hobbits, elves, dwarfs, wizards and trolls, plus other
 fantastical creatures including orcs, wraiths and balrogs. The films each
 require dozens of digital human/humanoid characters plus lead creatures who
 are entirely CGI-created, vast CGI landscapes, battle scenes with hundreds of
 thousands of animated characters and more special effects than you can shake a
 wizard's staff at.
     Weta Digital, which has been working on the trilogy for over four years,
 built a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up. More than 150 artists,
 keyframe animators, modelers, digital paint artists, motion editors,
 compositors and numerous software engineers were provided with 150 Octane
 visual workstations, which run Alias|Wavefront(TM) Maya(R) as the facility's
 core 3D application; an eight-processor Onyx2 system running Discreet inferno
 for compositing; and 80 dual-processor Silicon Graphics(R) 330 and Silicon
 Graphics(R) 230 Linux(R) OS-based workstations, which are used for a
 combination of paint, rotoscoping and compositing duties. Two SGI(R) file
 servers using SGI(R) TP9400 storage arrays, StorageTek Tape Robots and SGI(R)
 Origin(R) 2000 server technology provide a combination of 4TB of online
 storage and more than 20TB of nearline storage as a global storage repository
 to support workstation information sharing.
     "What we're about is the ability to move large amounts of information
 around the facility all day, every day, and we rely on SGI to help us do that.
 Ninety percent of our equipment is SGI," said Jon Labrie, chief technical
 officer of Weta Digital. For nearline/offline storage Weta Digital uses DMF,
 the SGI hierarchical storage management system, which is already managing 50TB
 of information. "SGI DMF has greatly simplified our management of the
 thousands of tapes needed to store the bulk of the data," Labrie added.
     From the beginning of preproduction, Weta Digital has also used the IRIX
 OS-based Octane visual workstations to write extensions to Maya and create
 proprietary technology. This technology includes Massive, a custom-built crowd
 animation or "artificial ecology" system developed on IRIX and now ported to
 Linux that draws from a huge database of motion-capture data.
     "We're using Massive for battle animation scenes with hundreds of
 thousands of fighting, screaming and dying orcs, elves and all the other
 magical and fantastical creatures that appear in The Lord of the Rings,"
 Labrie continued. "For these sorts of graphical challenges we prefer to work
 in the world of IRIX and UNIX(R). The graphics engines available to us on the
 SGI platforms make our jobs easier. We are so thrilled with the latest
 increase in performance and quality with the new Octane2 system that we've
 enlisted it for our next production."
     Weta Digital purchased the Silicon Graphics(R) Octane2(TM) visual
 workstation running Discreet flame software to help in the final phases of
 postproduction. Octane2 offers high-performance VPro(TM) V12 graphics with
 perspective-correct color and texture, extremely realistic blending of colors
 for transparent objects and high-quality volume visualization using 3D
 textures. The new Octane2 system will now be put to work on the next film.
 Weta's primary rendering resource is based on SGI(R) 1100 and SGI(R) 1200
 Linux OS-based servers. Having started with 32 dedicated processors, the
 facility currently runs 192 dual-processor SGI servers rendering frames
 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
     "Weta Digital's purchase of both SGI IRIX and SGI Linux technology is an
 excellent example of choosing the right tool for the right job," said Jason
 Danielson, director of marketing, Media Industries, SGI. "It is testimony to
 how both operating systems can work together seamlessly to produce, render,
 manage and store powerful visual effects ranging from the photorealistic to
 the universe of human imagination."
 
     About SGI
     SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, is the world's leading provider of
 high-performance computing, complex data management and visualization
 products, services and solutions that enable its technical and creative
 customers to gain strategic and competitive advantages in their core
 businesses. Whether being used to design and build safer cars and airplanes,
 discover new medications and oil reserves, predict the weather, entertain us
 with thrilling movie special effects or provide mission-critical support for
 government and defense, SGI systems and expertise are empowering a world of
 innovation and discovery. The company, located on the Web at www.sgi.com, is
 headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and has offices worldwide.
 
     About Weta Digital
     Weta Digital Ltd. is Australasia's premiere digital visual effects studio,
 with established pipelines encompassing all aspects of modern digital effects
 production. Core competencies include CG creature design, animation,
 environments, crowd generation and control, digital compositing and film
 scanning and recording. The facility is based in Wellington, New Zealand.
 Contact Jamie Selkirk at +64.4.380.9080. Their Web site is
 www.wetadigital.com.
 
     NOTE:  Silicon Graphics, SGI, Octane, Onyx2, Onyx, Origin, IRIX and the
 SGI logo are registered trademarks and Octane2 and VPro are trademarks of
 Silicon Graphics, Inc. SGI Linux is a trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc.
 Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds, used with permission by
 Silicon Graphics, Inc. Maya is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics,
 Inc, used exclusively by Alias|Wavefront, a division of Silicon Graphics
 Limited. Alias|Wavefront is a trademark of Alias|Wavefront, a division of
 Silicon Graphics Limited. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in
 the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the
 property of their respective owners.
 
     (Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010510/SFTH025LOGO )
 
     CONTACT:  Lisa Pistacchio, +1-650-933-5683, or pistacchio@sgi.com, or
 Sharon Boh, +65-771-0286, or Sharonb@sgi.com, or Linda Koh, +65-771-0285, or
 Lindakoh@sgi.com, or SGI PR Hotline, +1-650-933-7777, or SGI PR Fax, +1-650-
 932-0737, all of SGI.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X31601311
 
 SOURCE  SGI

RELATED LINKS

http://www.sgi.com