Unity acquires Oscar-winning visual effects studio Weta Digital

Unity, creators of the popular 3D engine of the same name, have announced that they are acquiring Weta Digital, Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio known for its fancy in movies, including Planet Of The Apes, Lord of the Rings, Avatar and The Suicide Squad. They plan to bring Weta’s tools to Unity developers, which is something of an arsenal to offer in the rendering arms race against Unreal Engine.

The announcement explains that Unity has “entered into a final agreement to acquire Weta Digital, specifically its artist tools, core pipeline, intellectual property and award-winning engineering talent”. The VFX service teams from Weta Digital will continue to live separately as WetaFX. Unity says they plan to “cloud-enable these tools and ensure they can be easily integrated with the workflows that artists already use,” working with them on tools like Maya as well as moving content into the Unity engine. If you’re working with Unity yourself, yes, you’re still waiting for details on how all of this will actually work.

Unity’s announcement describes the tools that Weta brings. They cover technology including renderers, simulated water and cloth, face recording, hair and fur, muscles and skin, feathers, plants, terrain, biomes, simulated smoke and fire, live previews of mixing CG and camera footage, production processes and more. A lot of fantasy.

“The unified tools and incredible scientists and technologists of Weta Digital will accelerate our mission to provide content creators with easy – to – use and high-performance tools to bring their visions to life,” said Marc Whitten, General Manager of Unity Create Solutions. Developed with an artist-first mentality, this pipeline is an incredible set of tools capable of reaching the pinnacle of visual effects (VFX) forged within the uncompromising schedules of hundreds of filmmakers. and television productions. “

Unity has an unfair reputation for being junky and ugly. I think it largely stems from how games built in the free version with power would display a Unity splash screen at startup, while developers who paid for it could (and would) disable it. This meant that Unity was associated with non-commercial indie games, which were often less fancy and polished than commercial releases. To be clear, I love that Unity enabled so many passion projects and goose simulators, but many people are, you know, picky babies.

But Unity can make ‘fancy’ games, of course it can do what you might just know you have not played them. Unity games in recent years include Pokémon Unite, Subnautica, GFTO, Valheim, Fall Guys, Outer Wilds, Hollow Knight, Desperados 3, Legends Of Runeterra, Untitled Goose Game, BattleTech, Cuphead, Yooka-Laylee, Hearthstone and Firewatch. The company has also made a push to show their imagination with a number of short films. Buying Weta Digital feels a bit like a big “Oh my god would you please shut up already.”

Oh, I suppose I should mention that because 2021 is a worse version of 2007, Unity’s announcement also continues to use Weta’s tools to “unlock the full potential of the metaverse” and blah blah blah.

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