Weta Digital

From Academic Kids

Weta Digital is a digital special effects company based in Miramar, New Zealand, an offshoot of the Weta Workshop physical effects company. Director Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and others founded Weta Digital in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures, working with just one computer on that film. The company has grown immensely in size and complexity since then. Their most powerful computer is listed at #101 at Top500 for November, 2004.

The American film industry recognised Weta Digital for its outstanding effects for the film trilogy based on The Lord of the Rings by presenting it with Academy Awards for visual effects for its work on The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).

Much of the success was due to the creation of MASSIVE, a program which allows the animation of large numbers of agents: independent characters which act according to pre-set rules. This can be seen in the prologue to The Fellowship Of The Ring, the Helm's Deep battle sequence in The Two Towers, and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Return Of The King. Whilst in the first film only long-distance shots were possible, later developments allowed the generation of foreground shots.

Another significant contribution to the trilogy was the effort and technology applied to render Gollum, a hobbit-related creature corrupted and deformed by the power of the One Ring, very realistically using a combination of motion capture and key frame animation.

Other movies that were worked on by Weta Digital were Robert Zemeckis's Contact (1997), starring Jodie Foster, and Alex Proyas's I, Robot (2004), starring Will Smith.

Weta will also be working on the live action adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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