This arrived to the in-tray of one of our correspondents (via the Herald’s reporter Russell Brown, at a guess):

“SGI to open training suite with Rings preview.

$100,000 central Auckland suite marks a dual first for SGI
Silicon Graphics has lined up preview footage from Lord of the Rings to mark the opening of its new training suite in Auckland tonight. The company announced this week that Weta FX – a long-term SGI customer – had bought 16 dual-processor SGI 1200 servers running Linux as it builds capacity for post-production work on the Peter Jackson-directed films of Tolkien’s trilogy.
Weta has provided work from the project – although it’s not clear whether it will be the same six-minute package shown to an industry audience at the recent ShoWEST trade show in Los Angeles, or new footage.
The $100,000 central Auckland suite marks a dual first for SGI – in that it
contains eight Linux workstations alongside another eight running the company’s flagship Irix OS, and because it is the first of a planned string of training bases ..” Sorry the rest was just tripped my boredom overload so I cut it.

An alert local went and reported on this softwarefest:

For my $7 parking fee I got a Silicon Graphics mouse pad, a Silicon Graphics yoyo, Compaq mini-frisbee (“for the office”), highlighter and ballpoint pen, drinks and food, and lots of good info on using Silicon Graphics O2 systems for digital video. Not too bad for the opening of a training suite that wasn’t going to have technical info like that at it.
(yeah, but nothing beats my cherished shirt from one of these things that says ‘The power of a laptop, the personality of a thinkpad.’ Whoever thought that up had the personality of a carpet tile. -T.)

[And from the seminar this morning I got a free Sky City ballpoint pen that keeps on stopping (figures), a small pad of paper, and two plastic-wrapped mints that I was told tasted really bad (and so haven’t eaten yet).]

But in the “world premier” of what they showed (basically an interview about technical details on how many computers Weta uses and how much data they’re pushing around) we DID see a computer generated horse in wire frame and shaded forms, and we can theorise on the implications of _that_ for the next one and a third years. And there’s talk that PJ may apply a “Middle-earth” filter on the whole movie to make it look more “Middle-earthy”.’
Avid mousepad collectors may like to check out Amyd’s SFX site for the details on SGI and Octane and all that stuff, if you’re still curious.