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. 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.[1]

Weta Digital
IndustryVisual effects, CGI animation
Founded1993 (1993)
FounderRichard Taylor 
HeadquartersWellington, New Zealand
Key people
Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Joe Letteri, 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 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.[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 guru, 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]

Film and television visual effects filmography

See also


  1. "Another visual effects Oscar for Weta Digital?". Wellington.scoop. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  2. "Massive Software". Massive Software. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  3. "Interview with Chris White on King Kong". cgarchitect. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  4. "Bigger and Badder: How Weta Digital Bulked Up for King Kong". Studio Daily. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  5. Alex Ben Block (2009-12-10). "The creatures of 'Avatar' were 15 years in the making". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  6. Barnes, Mike (2012-12-03). "Top Visual Effects Producer Eileen Moran Dies in New Zealand; Worked on 'Avatar,' 'The Hobbit'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  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 (2011-08-05). "Giz Interviews Weta Digital's Effects Guru, Joe Letteri". Gizmondo. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  9. "The Birth of Weta", 1994, "The Edge" TV series, S2E7
  10. Gilchrist, Todd (December 17, 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 August 3, 2012.
  11. COHEN, DAVID. "Marvel's Alonso to studios: Support Digital Domain". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  12. "Weta Digital". Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  13. Murphy, Mekado (July 31, 2017). "Inside Avatar, the Theme Park Version". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
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