Top 100 Best Tech Companies In The World – P.44 - Weta Digital (New Zealand): Innovators in the World of Digital Entertainment


( Weta Digital is a digital visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand. It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures. Weta Digital has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.

The company is named after the New Zealand wētā, one of the world's largest insects, which is also featured in the logo.



As of 2017, Weta Digital has won six Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), King Kong (2005), Avatar (2009), and The Jungle Book (2016).





Weta Digital has developed several proprietary software packages to achieve groundbreaking visual effects. The scale of the battles required for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy led to the creation of MASSIVE, a program that can animate huge numbers of agents: independent characters acting according to pre-set rules. To recreate 1933 New York for King Kong, Weta created CityBot, an application that could "build" the city on a shot by shot basis.







Kong’s fur also required the development of new simulation and modeling software. A set of tools that combined procedural and interactive techniques added wind to the 460 billion individual strands of fur and modeled interaction with other surfaces. New shaders were written that accounted for the scattering of light from within each hair that added to the volumetric quality of the fur. Large chunks of fur were ripped out and filled in with scars, blood, and the mud of Skull Island. Each frame of fur took 2 gigabytes of data.



For James Cameron's Avatar, Weta modified MASSIVE to give life to the flora and fauna on Pandora, for which the company did most of the visual effects with the four-time Academy Award winner visual effects expert, Joe Letteri, under a team led by executive and producer Eileen Moran. Recently the company has developed its motion capture technology to be able to leave the studio for shooting on location, as utilized on the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.





On 19 June 2020, Weta Digital announced that it would be producing original animation content under the name Weta Animated, which was getting a multi-year production deal with Sony Pictures Animation.

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