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New Zealand’s source for technology news on Stuff.co.nz: Linux stars in MS movie

New Zealand’s source for technology news on Stuff.co.nz: Linux stars in MS movie: “Linux stars in MS movie
10 October 2005
By REUBEN SCHWARZ

In a stroke of irony, Microsoft’s Halo movie will be produced in Wellington by servers running the open-source Linux operating system.

Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox announced last week that Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh will act as executive producers for the film, based on the best-selling game for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console.

Bungie, the Microsoft-owned development firm which created the game, confirmed that Peter Jackson’s post-production firm Weta Digital would be involved in the movie.

Weta Digital uses more than 1000 dual-processor IBM blade servers running the Fedora version of the Red Hat distribution of the Linux to produce special effects for movies that have so far included Lord of the Rings and King Kong.

About half the processors are rented out by the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre – a joint venture between Telecom and Weta – when they are not needed for film-making.

The open-source Linux operating system is growing in popularity in the server market, threatening the market share of Microsoft’s Windows Server, though it hasn’t managed to make major inroads on the desktop.

Halo centres on the adventures of an armour-clad super soldier known as the Master Chief who battles an alien horde, and the movie is certain to be laden with special effects rendered using Weta’s servers.

The game has sold 13 million copies worldwide, generating $US600 million in revenue, and was the making of the Xbox games console.

Microsoft will receive $US$5 million up front from Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, plus a cut of ticket sales.

The script for Halo was written by Alex Garland, who penned the sci-fi hit 28 Days. The movie is expected to be released mid-2007.

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