The Press Online
September 9, 1998

Computer Company to Spend $10m on Film
Press Reporter

WELLINGTON -- Wellington-based Weta Digital will spend more than $10 million on new computer systems to create about 1000 special film effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand Infotech Weekly has reported.

The films will be made in New Zealand by Wellington director Peter Jackson for United States company New Line Cinema, with a $US130 million ($N260 million) budget.

Weta Digital is a key player in bringing the J. R. R. Tolkien fantasy classic stories to the screen.

Chief technical officer Jon Labrie told the magazine that $10 million of new hardware and software would be needed for the project, which he believed was the biggest special effects task attempted in the southern hemisphere.

Mr Jackson is a partner in the film effects company, which comprises Weta Workshop, which creates physical-based effects such as models and puppets, and Weta Digital, which works with computer effects.

Mr Labrie said Weta would increase its staff for the project and he expected to find half the number required in New Zealand.

Full production would begin about a month after principal photography begins in early May next year.

"We're looking at well over a thousand special effects shots for the trilogy."

Another Peter Jackson movie also filmed in New Zealand, The Frighteners, was just short of 500 shots.

Mr Labrie said most of the special effects would be traditional compositing of live actors against filmed background, 3-D character animation, and environmental enhancements.