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The Fellowship of Unity, Weta Digital

The acquisition will make cutting-edge VFX tools available for next generation of 3D creators

Real-time 3D (RT3D) specialist Unity has revealed its intent to acquire Weta Digital, the Oscar-winning New Zealand-based visual effects company.

The acquisition is designed to bring Weta’s VFX tools into the hands of millions of creators and enable the next generation of RT3D artists to shape the future of the metaverse, said Unity. It plans to make Weta Digital’s proprietary graphics and VFX tools, including Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef and CityBuilder, available via an accessible cloud-based workflow.

As well as the creative tools, Unity will acquire Weta’s 275 engineers, a foundational data platform for interoperable 3D art creation and a library of thousands of assets that the VFX team will continue to build. Weta Digital’s VFX teams will remain a standalone entity known as WetaFX under majority ownership by Sir Peter Jackson and helmed by CEO Prem Akkaraju.

Weta Digital’s character-, object- and world-building has been seen in Avatar, Black Widow, Game of ThronesLord of the RingsPlanet of the Apes and The Suicide Squad, placing the company at the cutting-edge of advanced facial capture and anatomical modelling effects for more than 20 years.

“Weta Digital’s tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations,” said Sir Peter Jackson, chairman and co-founder of Weta Digital. “Together, Unity and Weta Digital can create a pathway for any artist, from any industry, to be able to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools. Offering aspiring creatives access to Weta Digital’s technology will be nothing short of game changing and Unity is just the company to bring this vision to life.”

“We are thrilled to democratise these industry-leading tools and bring the genius of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta’s amazing engineering talent to life for artists everywhere,” added Unity president and CEO John Riccitiello. “By combining the power of Unity and Weta Digital, the tools and technology that built characters and scenes from the world’s most iconic films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings and Wonder Woman, will enable an entirely new generation of creators to build, transform and distribute stunning RT3D content.”

The $1.625 billion acquisition, a combination of cash and stock, is expected to close during Q4 2021.