|Industry||Visual effects, CGI animation|
|Headquarters||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Peter Jackson, Prem Akkaraju (CEO), Richard Taylor, Joe Letteri, Wes Takahashi, Eileen Moran, David Conley|
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 w?t?, 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 which 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 which 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 their motion capture technique to be able to leave 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, was getting a Muti-year Production Deal with Sony Pictures Animation. The company also announced a new chief executive Prem Akkaraju, who comes from Los Angeles.
In mid-September 2020, Weta Digital announced that it had commissioned a Queen's Counsel to carry out an independent review of the company following allegations of alleged bullying, harassment, and a "toxic" workplace culture.
In December 2020, Weta Digital CEO Prem Akkaraju announced additional board members including Tom Staggs, Jeff Huber and Ken Kamins. They join current board members Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Sean Parker, Prem Akkaraju and Joe Letteri. In late December 2020, an independent review by Miriam Dean QC uncovered 80 complaints of bullying, 120 complaints of poor conduct, and 19 complaints of sexual harassment. Dean recommended internal reforms to address these issues along with misogyny and the gender pay gap.
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