Weta Digital

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.[1]

Weta Digital
IndustryVisual effects, CGI animation
Founded1993; 27 years ago (1993)
HeadquartersWellington, New Zealand
Key people
Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Joe Letteri, Wes Takahashi, Eileen Moran, David Conley

Weta Digital is part of a number of Peter Jackson's co-owned companies in Wellington which includes Weta Workshop, Weta Productions, Weta Collectibles and Park Road Post Production.

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 which can animate huge numbers of agents: independent characters acting according to pre-set rules.[2] To recreate 1933 New York for King Kong, Weta created CityBot, an application which could "build" the city on a shot by shot basis.[3]

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.[4]

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,[5] under a team led by executive and producer Eileen Moran.[6] 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.[7][8]

On 19 June 2020, Weta Digital announced that it would be producing original online content under the name Weta Animated. The company also announced a new chief executive Prem Akkaraju, who comes from Los Angeles.[9]

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.[10][11]

Film and television visual effects filmographyEdit

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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Another visual effects Oscar for Weta Digital?". Wellington.scoop. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Massive Software". Massive Software. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Interview with Chris White on King Kong". cgarchitect. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Bigger and Badder: How Weta Digital Bulked Up for King Kong". Studio Daily. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  5. ^ Alex Ben Block (10 December 2009). "The creatures of 'Avatar' were 15 years in the making". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Danny Allen (5 August 2011). "Giz Interviews Weta Digital's Effects Guru, Joe Letteri". Gizmondo. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  9. ^ Wiltshire, Laura (19 June 2020). "Weta Digital will create original content for the first time in 25 year histor". Stuff. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Weta Digital commissions independent review". Radio New Zealand. 17 September 2020. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  12. ^ "The Birth of Weta", 1994, "The Edge" TV series, S2E7
  13. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (17 December 2011). "Effects Supremo Joe Letteri Says Zack Snyder Is Placing Emphasis On In-Camera Effects In 'Man of Steel' | The Playlist". IndieWire. Washington, DC, USA: SnagFilms. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  14. ^ COHEN, DAVID. "Marvel's Alonso to studios: Support Digital Domain". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Weta Digital". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  16. ^ Murphy, Mekado (31 July 2017). "Inside Avatar, the Theme Park Version". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.

External linksEdit