Labrie quits Weta for wireless venture

Jon Labrie, technology chief for Lord of the Rings special effects provider Weta Digital, has quit the company after six years in the role.

Jon Labrie, technology chief for Lord of the Rings special effects provider Weta Digital, has quit the company after six years in the role.

Los Angeles-born Labrie, who joined the company in December 1995 to work on Weta owner Peter Jackson's earlier movie The Frighteners, left on May 3 to become involved with a New Zealand-based wireless venture.

He wouldn't elaborate further, but says his departure from Weta was amicable and he left "because Weta is now going into an operational phase. Most of the [IT] implementation has been done and now that Weta is in the daily business of special effects I wanted a new challenge."

In his time at Weta the company has grown to a 250-employee operation and Labrie has overseen the automation, with StorageTek gear, of the company's storage tapes and purchase of Network Appliance hardware to meet Weta's voracious appetite for resources. Every day during the making of the film trilogy 160 digital effects artists created a terabyte of new data and each frame of film required 12MB. Some 300-500GB needed to be backed up to tape daily.

Labrie also built up Weta's close relationship with SGI, which included the purchase of 16 SGI servers during his time as CTO. He has been replaced at Weta by Scott Houston, formerly SGI NZ regional manager.

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