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Book Brought To Life By Weta Using IBM Technology

Children's Book Brought To Life By Weta Using IBM Technology

IBM eServer BladeCentre and Storage combine for speed and reliablity

Wellington, New Zealand, 19 September 2005 - IBM today announced that Weta Productions, the television production facility of Academy Award winning creative effects facility Weta Workshop, has built an entire IT infrastructure for its expansion into animation using IBM technology.

Offering services to all aspects of the creative industry, Weta Workshop is best known for its prosthetics, miniatures and costume work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Weta Workshop's latest project is children's television series "Jane and the Dragon", which went into full production in July. The 26-episode first series will be broadcast worldwide.

Creating a high quality animated series on a children's television budget, in New Zealand and with a short turnaround time, required some innovative thinking and the development of an entire IT infrastructure from scratch.

Sister company Weta Digital's experience with IBM eServer BladeCenter systems played a big part in the decision to go with IBM Blades according to Trevor Brymer, Weta Productions VFX Supervisor.

"We didn't need to do any benchmarking for the servers. We needed a large server with a lot of capacity and plenty of grunt and we knew we would get that with the IBM Blades. Human time is precious so the faster we can get computers to work the better.

"There is no room for down time with television production. If there is a problem anywhere in the production process, stress immediately takes hold. Reliability, speed and good support systems are essential," says Mr Brymer.

While selecting a server was an easy choice, Weta Productions' decision on storage was a different story.

"We needed a reasonable amount of storage that could be accessed by up to 100 artists and up to 100 render nodes. Compared with movie production, where storage is used to render graphics for an intense period of time and is then relatively free, television production needs rendering to be incredibly reliable and capable of performing day and night, 365 days a year," says Mr Brymer.

To ensure they were getting the best price-performance, Weta Productions benchmarked IBM and Network Appliances storage. The results spoke for themselves and today three Terabytes of IBM disk storage are running on the powerful IBM pSeries server.

IBM NZ Systems and Technology Group Manager Catherine Blinkhorn, says IBM's BladeCentre Server and Storage technology had the versatility to create a complex infrastructure in a short time frame, enabling Weta Productions to do groundbreaking animation fast and cost effectively. "And importantly, WETA needed infrastructure and support which they can rely on to meet the demanding time frames of television production."

Weta Productions' artists use 50 IBM Intel workstations, largely for the motion capture and animation process, on which they create the digital images that bring Jane and the Dragon to life. The render wall consists of 50 IBM BladeCenter servers, each configured with Dual 3.0Ghz Intel processors and 2GB of memory. Images are stored and retrieved from a four terabyte high speed IBM disk array.

ENDS

About Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop is based in Wellington, New Zealand and is a comprehensive film and television effects facility that houses a large and varied skill base of creative technicians. Best known for their work on 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, Weta Workshop is a four time Academy Award winning company that offers services to all aspects of the creative industry including design, special make-up effects and prosthetics, creatures, armour, weapons, miniatures, prop building, large scale sculpture, display work and costuming. For more information about Weta Workshop, visit www.wetaworkshop.co.nz

About IBM

IBM is the world's largest information technology and business solutions company with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key IBM Business Partners, IBM New Zealand offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to transform into on demand enterprises. IBM is celebrating 50 years in New Zealand. For more information about IBM, please visit www.ibm.com/nz

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