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Kiwi Technology Helps Bring Narnia Fantasy To Life

Telecom’s high-speed network is part of the magic behind the filming of The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

Produced in New Zealand and directed by New Zealander Andrew Adamson the film is based on the classic novel by C.S. Lewis and opens in theatres worldwide tomorrow, Friday 9 December.

It was one of the most complex visual effects movies ever made.

Providing the connectivity for this movie certainly had its challenges said Grant Hornblow, Technology Manager from Telecom.

“During the two years of filming and post-production work for Narnia, Telecom connected the Narnia crew’s main Hobsonville studio with various filming locations which included remote filming locations 1,200kms away in the South Island.

“By laying fibre cable into the main Hobsonville studio complex, we could provide a scaleable high-speed service to the site. We split connectivity two ways, firstly by supplying secure connectivity to the various filming locations. Secondly, direct access to the internet via Global Gateway, security was also provided via an on-site Telecom managed firewall.

Global Gateway is the largest portal out of New Zealand which provides direct access to the Southern Cross Cable Network, a network 50% owned by Telecom that can transmit up to six full length movies or six million phone calls per second.

“Secure remote access was also provided to the crew, they were able to connect to the Hobsonville site nationally via dial-up, mobile broadband or Xtra Broadband.

“Because the team was connected directly to the Global Gateway, they could send massive amounts of information via the Internet to the US. The speed of the circuit provided the flexibility to scale their connection from 5Mb all the way to 100Mbs if required” Hornblow added.

Narnia Unit Production Manager Tim Coddington said Telecom's willingness to act urgently when needed and offer pricing flexibility had proved invaluable in the making of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

“Telecom’s philosophy of providing connectivity wherever we were based was taken to an extreme at our locations under the Southern Alps.

“At the main filming site down south Telecom provided both data connectivity and mobile coverage via one of their mobile cell-sites. Duncan Nimmo (Narnia’s IT expert) set up a wireless data network perimeter around the site, so that the crew had direct access to Hobsonville and the internet” Coddington said.

“Remote access takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that these wireless access points were constructed from aerials held up by steel waratahs, some number 8 wire and were powered via batteries stored in a chilly bins.

“The result was a wireless network that wowed our American colleagues and solved many of the problems associated with working out of a remote location,” Coddington said.

“It was pretty basic but we could access our network from a tent in the mountains at 2Mbs.”

“All of these services were reasonably priced and operated without glitches. It is interesting to note that the choke point for the traffic was in fact in LA itself where the local infrastructure is not up to the standards we enjoy in New Zealand.”

Mr Coddington said while there was no doubt that New Zealand offers many advantages to film makers, its geographical remoteness is a disadvantage for film production crews.

“Telecommunications systems mitigate these disadvantages, and without the support of Telecom, the New Zealand film industry might struggle to attract and complete projects such as Narnia - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Key Facts

Telecom has a team dedicated to the high demands of the film industry

Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most complex virtual effects movie yet made in New Zealand

Filmed in many locations, mostly in extremely remote locations

Extensive ICT requirements due to digital animation and visual effects

Telecom provided fibre optic connectivity – bandwidth flexible and scalable from 10Mbs to 100Mbs.

Following hot on the heels of Narnia - The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures have announced plans to base production of Hollywood feature film The Bridge to Terabithia in Auckland.


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