Weta Digital is famous for its Lord of the Rings series and avatar effects.
Wellington-based visual effects studio (VFX) Weta Digital is entering the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market thanks to a new contract with software provider Autodesk, in which its proprietary, internally developed visual effects software is incorporated Autodesk Maya is embedded.
The partnership underpins the launch of WetaM, a new offering that brings out Weta’s own set of proprietary VFX tools for artists based on Maya’s open application programming interface (API).
The WetaM offering, which is expected to be launched as a private beta in the fourth calendar quarter of this year, will be marketed by Weta Digital as a subscription cloud service.
Known for its Lord of the Rings series and avatar effects, Weta Digital has won 13 Academy Sci-tech Awards for its tools designed to help artists produce some of the world’s most successful film and television series. It claims today to be one of the largest single-site VFX studios in the world, attracting artists from over 40 countries.
The introduction of WetaM is the first product launch as part of a newly established SaaS department within Weta Digital. The new line of business is an integral part of Weta’s expansion strategy to provide professional and professional tools to artists across the global entertainment industry, the company said.
“WetaM is the first step towards democratizing VFX and animation production,” said Prem Akkaraju, CEO of Weta Digital. “Weta Digital unites the most creative minds in the world and has been a pioneering innovator in the visual effects and entertainment industry for decades.
“WetaM is a transformative step that will raise the bar for global creative production and redefine the industry in the process. At its core, this partnership with Autodesk will expand the reach of Weta magic and make it more accessible to artists who want to create amazing characters and worlds in film and television, ”he added.
Diana Colella, senior vice president of entertainment and media solutions at Autodesk, said WetaM’s debut is a game changer that will unlock Weta’s years of dedicated animation and VFX research and development resources for users around the world.
“It’s exciting to be working with Weta to teach Maya artists their magic and bring them powerful new effects tools and time-saving automation capabilities,” she said.
While Weta’s new SaaS offering is clearly not a tech game for businesses, it represents a major development for the company that will result in recurring revenue from software subscription services in addition to revenue from its core visual effects business.
Over the years, Weta Digital itself has been a major consumer of such services. After providing its own supercomputing power for decades, Weta Digital retired most of its IT infrastructure in late 2020 and went to the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The Wellington studio’s data center cluster made it into the top 500 list of global supercomputers on a regular basis until it expired in June 2018.
Now, Weta is leveraging AWS’s cloud services to create a new, cloud-based VFX workflow, including a range of technologies for VFX artists to support the studio’s global expansion, accelerate critical parts of film production, and the Expand Weta Digital’s New Zealand operations.
Over the course of the multi-year contract, the studio migrates most of its IT infrastructure to AWS to support a pipeline that includes 100 proprietary tools and its LED stage virtual production service that creates immersive new worlds on the set.
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