|Industry||Visual effects, CGI animation|
|Headquarters||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Joe Letteri, 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. In 2007, Weta Digital's Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Joe Letteri, was also appointed as a Director of the company. Weta Digital has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.
The company is named after the New Zealand weta, one of the world's largest insects and one 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 guru, 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.
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