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Alias and Weta Digital Confirm Strategic Business Alliance.

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers


New Zealand's Academy Award-winning computer graphics and effects

facility relies on Academy Award-winning Maya software technology

Alias, a Silicon Graphics Inc. (NYSE:SGI) company, announced today that it is continuing to foster a strategic business relationship with Weta Digital. As two-time winners of an Academy Award(R) for "Best Visual Effects," Weta Digital utilized Maya(R) as the core 3D animation software technology throughout the process of creating digital characters and effects for the Lord of the Rings(TM) films -- Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (TM), Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers(TM), and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King(TM).

The Lord of Rings trilogy has established itself as one of the most exciting cinematic stories of all time. The visual depth and richness of unique CG characters like Gollum, Shelob and Mumakil were achieved through extensive use of Alias' most sought after 3D technology. Using 165 seats of primarily Maya(R) Unlimited(TM); the Maya software proved invaluable as the core 3D animation software utilized in the production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Moviegoers again experienced Maya's power with the release of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on December 17, 2003.

"The Lord of the Rings, film trilogy has taken the art of filmmaking to new heights," says Peter Mehlstaeubler, vice president of product development, Alias. "The incredibly talented team of computer animators, technical and artistic directors at Weta Digital has played a pivotal role in advancing the art of film-making. We are extremely proud to be working closely with Weta, to provide the 3D graphics and animation technology that allows them to attain this unsurpassed level of excellence. By continuing to push the limits of digital effects creation, Weta also helps Alias to excel in driving the evolution of the 3D graphics industry forward."

"Weta Digital has strongly valued the strategic partnership it has shared with Alias over the past several years. It has enabled our artists to create some of the most compelling visual effects for all three Lord of the Rings films," says Scott Houston, chief technology officer at Weta Digital. "Alias is an important business partner, and we have benefited from our relationship with them many times: including in the delivery of custom Maya software for animation, specifically for animation constraints for reparenting, clothing simulation and clothing mesh constraints for The Return of the King. We look forward to continuing to work with Alias in the future."

The next project for Weta Digital proves no less of an animation and special effects challenge than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The talented group is taking on a powerful creature of a different kind - King Kong - and they're counting on Maya to help ensure the film's success. Houston comments, "Our next project is bigger in scale still: and suitably enough, it's King Kong. More than ever we're going to have to rely on Alias."

Weta Digital was formed in 1993 by a group of young New Zealand filmmakers, including Peter Jackson, director of the three Lord of The Rings films. The company has expanded considerably since that time, and today it provides some of the highest quality visual effects in the film and television industries. Using the latest hardware and software has always been one of the secrets of the company's considerable success. Weta Digital and Alias first formed a strategic business relationship in 1999, as the Weta Digital team was beginning work on the numerous effects shots required for Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

About Alias

As the world's leading innovator of 3D graphics technology, Alias develops award-winning software, custom development and training solutions for the film and video, games, web, interactive media, industrial design, education and visualization markets. In 2003, the company was awarded an Oscar(R) for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its development of Maya software, the professional 3D animation and effects package. Alias also offers a powerful range of services for new to advanced users in the most demanding environments. Learning Tools and Training, Support, and Professional Services help meet rigorous production deadlines. Entertainment customers include: Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., CNN, Core Design Limited, Digital Domain, Disney, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, Factor 5 LLC, Midway Games, Nintendo, Pacific Data Images (PDI), Pixar, Sega, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Square Co., Ltd., Warner Feature Animation and Weta Ltd.

Alias is a wholly owned, independent software company of SGI(R) with headquarters in Toronto and Custom Development Center in Santa Barbara. Please visit the Alias website at or call 1-800-447-2542 in North America. International contact numbers include: Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa, +44 (0) 1494 441273; Germany, East & Southeast Europe, 0049 89 31 70 20; France, Spain and Portugal, +33 1 44 92 81 60; Italy, 39 039 6340011; Japan and other parts of Asia Pacific, 81 3 5797 3500 and Latin America, 770 393 1881.

About Weta Digital

Weta Digital was formed in 1993 by a group of young New Zealand filmmakers including Peter Jackson, Jamie Selkirk, Jim Booth, George Port, Tania Rodger and Richard Taylor. The single original computer, located in the backroom of an old Wellington house, was leased to accomplish the visual effects shots for Peter Jackson's film, Heavenly Creatures.

Since these humble beginnings, the company has quickly increased in size and skill to now provide some of the highest quality visual effects in the film and television industries. Weta's digital artists use the latest hardware and software, as well as a suite of proprietary tools. Working closely with the other division of Weta Ltd, Weta Workshop, they offer multidisciplinary expertise in conceptualization, creation and technical know-how as well as compositing, blue screen and background plates, miniature stop motion footage, motion capture sequencing, 35mm film scanning, recording and screenings, full design, maquette and 3D scanning services.

Alias is a registered trademark and the swirl logo is a trademark of Alias Systems, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. Maya is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc., exclusively used by Alias Systems, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited. SGI is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. Lord of the Rings is a trademark of New Line Productions, Inc. Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company DBA Tolkien Enterprises. Academy Award and Oscar are registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. All other products or companies mentioned are trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

Alias, 210 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 1J7, Tel: 416-362-9181, Fax: 416-369-6140.

(C)2004 Alias Systems, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 23, 2004
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