Wētā FX

  (Redirected from Weta Digital)

Wētā FX (formerly known as Weta Digital) is a New Zealand digital visual effects company based in Miramar, Wellington. It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures. The company went on to produce some of the highest-grossing films ever made, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar. Considered one of the most influential film companies of the 21st century, Wētā FX has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.[1]

Wētā FX
IndustryVisual effects, CGI animation
Founded1993; 29 years ago (1993)
HeadquartersMiramar, New Zealand
Key people
OwnerPeter Jackson

The company is named after the New Zealand wētā, one of the world's largest insects, which was historically featured in the company logo.[citation needed]


The company was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for the film Heavenly Creatures.[2] The company went on to produce some of the highest-grossing films ever made, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar. Considered one of the most influential film companies of the 21st century, Weta Digital has won many awards.

As of 2017, Wētā FX 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). Wētā FX 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.[3] To recreate 1933 New York for King Kong, Wētā created CityBot, an application which could "build" the city on a shot by shot basis.[4]

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 5 million 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.[5]

For James Cameron's Avatar, Wētā 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,[6] under a team led by executive and producer Eileen Moran.[7]

In 2010, a texture painting application developed by Wētā for Avatar called Mari has been bought by The Foundry Visionmongers.[8]

For The Adventures of Tintin and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Wētā developed a new grooming system called Barbershop where users can interactively manipulate digital hair. This tool received a Sci-tech award in 2015.[9]

Recently[when?] 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.[10][11]

On June 19, 2020, Weta Digital announced that it would be producing original animation content under the name Weta Animated, was getting a Multi-year Production Deal with Sony Pictures Animation. The company also announced a new chief executive Prem Akkaraju, who comes from Los Angeles.[12]

Previous logo with a New Zealand Wētā on top of the logo.

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.[13]

On June 17, 2021, Weta Digital announced they have partnered with Autodesk to productize Weta's proprietary tools based in Autodesk Maya for a cloud service called WetaM. It will first be released in Q4 as a private beta.[14]

On August 23, 2021, Wētā announced a collaboration with SideFX for a cloud service combining Wētā's proprietary tools within SideFX's Houdini called WetaH.[15]

On November 9, 2021, Jackson sold the company's VFX tools development division to video games software company Unity Technologies for US$1.62 billion.[16][17]

Workplace cultureEdit

Beginning in June 2020, an investigative project by Kiwi public TV broadcaster 1 News into Wētā's workplace culture following a social media posting by former Wētā Workshop employee Layna Lazar later resulted in more than 40 current and former Weta Digital employees anonymously sharing accounts of "sexism, bullying and harassment" in September 2020.[18]

In their testimonies, workers identified the existence of a male-only pornographic mailing list called "Caveman", which originated in 2002 following a company-wide tradition known as Porn Friday, and continued to circulate until 2015.[18] Several reports also alleged that the company's IT systems required upgrades in order to accommodate the volume of pornographic content hosted on the company intranet, in addition to numerous allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation, misogyny and homophobia.[18][19]

In response to these allegations, Wētā owners, including Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and chief executive officer Prem Akkaraju, commissioned an independent review from barrister Miriam Dean, who stated in her report that she received 80 complaints of bullying behavior, 120 complaints of inappropriate conduct and 19 complaints of sexual harassment from amongst the company's 1,500 employees.[20][21][22] Dean put forward 17 recommendations for internal reform, including the establishment of a code of conduct, restricting the executive team, expanding the diversity and inclusion program, and reviewing the company's pay structure.[20] Her review also stipulated that the existing management systems were not sufficient to protect workers "from bullying, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and other inappropriate conduct".[20]

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.



Year Films Studio(s) and Distributor(s)
1994 Heavenly Creatures[23] Miramax Films
1995 Forgotten Silver TBC
1996 Tales from the Crypt

(You, Murderer)

Warner Bros.
The Frighteners Universal Pictures
1997 Contact Warner Bros.


Year Films Studio(s) and Distributor(s)
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring New Line Cinema
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Van Helsing Universal Studios
I, Robot 20th Century Fox
2005 King Kong Universal Studios
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand 20th Century Fox
2007 Bridge to Terabithia Walt Disney Pictures
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 20th Century Fox
Enchanted Walt Disney Pictures
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Columbia Pictures
30 Days of Night
2008 Jumper 20th Century Fox
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Walt Disney Studios
The Day the Earth Stood Still 20th Century Fox
2009 District 9 TriStar Pictures
The Lovely Bones Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks Pictures

Avatar 20th Century Fox


Year Films Studio(s) and Distributor(s)
2010 The A-Team 20th Century Fox
Knight and Day
Gulliver's Travels
2011 X-Men: First Class
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Paramount Pictures
2012 The Avengers Walt Disney Studios

Paramount Pictures

Prometheus 20th Century Fox
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Warner Bros.
2013 Iron Man 3 Walt Disney Studios

Paramount Pictures

Man of Steel Warner Bros.
The Wolverine 20th Century Fox
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Lionsgate
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Warner Bros.
2014 Godzilla
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Warner Bros.
What We Do in the Shadows Paramount Pictures
2015 Furious 7 Universal Studios
Fantastic Four 20th Century Fox
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Lionsgate
Krampus Universal Studios
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip 20th Century Fox
2016 Deadpool
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Warner Bros.
The Jungle Book Walt Disney Studios
Central Intelligence Warner Bros.

Universal Studios

Independence Day: Resurgence 20th Century Fox
Hunt for the Wilderpeople Madman Entertainment
The BFG Walt Disney Studios
Pete's Dragon
2017 Spectral Netflix
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Walt Disney Studios
Avatar Flight of Passage[24] TBA
Wonder Woman Warner Bros.
War for the Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets EuropaCorp Distribution


Justice League Warner Bros.
2018 Maze Runner: The Death Cure 20th Century Fox
Rampage Warner Bros.
Avengers: Infinity War Walt Disney Studios
Deadpool 2 20th Century Fox
Animal World Enlight Pictures
Aquaman Warner Bros.
Mortal Engines Universal Studios
2019 Alita: Battle Angel 20th Century Fox
Avengers: Endgame Walt Disney Studios
Annabelle Comes Home Warner Bros.
Ad Astra 20th Century Fox (under Walt Disney Studios)
Gemini Man Paramount Pictures
Terminator: Dark Fate 20th Century Fox

Paramount Pictures

Lady and the Tramp Walt Disney Studios


Jumanji: The Next Level Columbia Pictures


Year Films Studio(s) and Distributor(s)
2020 Birds of Prey Warner Bros.
Mulan Walt Disney Studios


Shadow in the Cloud Rertical Entertainment

Redbox Entertainment

The Christmas Chronicles 2 Netflix
We Can Be Heroes
2021 Zack Snyder's Justice League Warner Bros.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Black Widow Walt Disney Studios
The Tomorrow War Amazon Studios

Paramount Pictures

Jungle Cruise Walt Disney Studios
The Green Knight A24
The Suicide Squad Warner Bros.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Walt Disney Studios
The King's Man 20th Century Studios (under Walt Disney Studios)
2022 Kimi Warner Bros.
No Exit 20th Century Studios (under Walt Disney Studios)
The Batman Warner Bros.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Walt Disney Studios


Year Films Studio(s) and Distributor(s)
2022 Thor: Love and Thunder Walt Disney Studios
Avatar: The Way of Water 20th Century Studios (under Walt Disney Studios)
2023 Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Warner Bros.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Walt Disney Studios
The Little Mermaid
Untitled Planet of the Apes sequel 20th Century Studios (under Walt Disney Studios)
2024 Avatar 3
2026 Avatar 4
2028 Avatar 5


Year Name of Television show Network
2017 Game of Thrones (Season 7) Warner Bros./HBO
2018 Game of Thrones (Season 8)
2019 The Umbrella Academy Netflix
2020 Space Force
2021 The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Disney+
Mr. Corman Apple TV+
Hawkeye Disney+
2022 Peacemaker HBO Max
Moon Knight Disney+
Obi-Wan Kenobi


Year Name of Television show Network
2022 She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Disney+
2022 The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Amazon Prime

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Another visual effects Oscar for Weta Digital?". Wellington.scoop. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  2. ^ Gray, Tim (22 October 2014). "Weta Digital: Peter Jackson's VFX Company is About 'Immersive Filmmaking'". Variety.
  3. ^ "Massive Software". Massive Software. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Interview with Chris White on King Kong". cgarchitect. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Bigger and Badder: How Weta Digital Bulked Up for King Kong". Studio Daily. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  6. ^ Alex Ben Block (10 December 2009). "The creatures of 'Avatar' were 15 years in the making". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  7. ^ Barnes, Mike (3 December 2012). "Top Visual Effects Producer Eileen Moran Dies in New Zealand; Worked on 'Avatar,' 'The Hobbit'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  8. ^ Mike Seymour (29 March 2010). "Exclusive: Foundry NAB Preview". fxguide. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  9. ^ Mike Seymour (29 January 2015). "Barbershop at Weta: Sci-tech winner explained". fxguide. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  10. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith. "'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes': See Andy Serkis and others go ape in this side-by-side special-effects video -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  11. ^ Danny Allen (5 August 2011). "Giz Interviews Weta Digital's Effects Guru, Joe Letteri". Gizmondo. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  12. ^ Wiltshire, Laura (19 June 2020). "Weta Digital will create original content for the first time in 25 year history". Stuff. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  13. ^ Flint, Joe. "Peter Jackson's Special-Effects Firm Looks to Become a Content Producer". Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Matt Grobar (17 June 2021). "Weta Digital Partners With Autodesk To Launch Next Generation Creative Cloud Service, WetaM". Deadline. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Weta Digital & SideFX Collaboration Enhances Cloud Production with Houdini". Computer Graphics World. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  16. ^ Hayes, Dade (9 November 2021). "Peter Jackson Selling Weta Digital's VFX Tech Division To Unity For $1.625 Billion, with the Visual Effects division renamed to Weta FX". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021.
  17. ^ Silver, Katie (11 November 2021). "Peter Jackson sells visual effects firm for $1.6bn to Unity". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 November 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Hall, Kristin (8 September 2020). "'World's most beautiful toxic waste dump' - Weta Digital employees claim sexism, bullying and harassment". 1 News. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  19. ^ Hall, Kristin (1 October 2020). "'Toxic': Disturbing stories from behind the scenes at Weta Digital". 1 News. TVNZ. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b c Miriam Dean. Independent Review of Workplace Culture for Weta Digital. 1 News (Report). TVNZ. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  21. ^ Witton, Bridie (18 September 2020). "Weta Digital calls in QC after sexual harassment allegations". Stuff. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  22. ^ "Weta Digital commissions independent review". Radio New Zealand. 17 September 2020. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  23. ^ "The Birth of Weta", 1994, "The Edge" TV series, S2E7
  24. ^ Murphy, Mekado (31 July 2017). "Inside Avatar, the Theme Park Version". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.

External linksEdit