Unity is buying Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital to help prepare for the metaverse

The VFX house's tools will make their way to the Unity Engine.

Unity Technologies

Unity Technologies, the company behind the Unity engine, is buying Weta Digital. If you’re a film buff, you need no introduction to Weta. It’s the VFX house Peter Jackson co-founded in 1993. It has worked on movies like the Fellowship of the Ring, Avatar and Black Widow. Under the $1.625 billion deal, Unity is obtaining the company’s technology division, including its artist tools and engineering talent. Weta’s VFX and animation teams will form a separate entity known as WetaFX, which Peter Jackson will continue to hold a majority stake in. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.

Weta’s technology suite includes tools for facial animation, creating virtual cityscapes and modeling the deformation of objects, among many other applications. Unity’s plan is to not only integrate those programs into the Unity Engine but to also eventually offer them as part of cloud-based subscription offering. At some point, many of the assets Weta Digital has created over the years will make their way to the engine as well, allowing anyone with access to Unity to use them.

The company didn’t say exactly when those things will happen, but the vision here is to put Unity at the forefront of the metaverse since whatever it entails will likely need a lot of 3D models. “The unified tools and the incredible scientists and technologists of Weta Digital will accelerate our mission to give content creators easy to use and high performance tools to bring their visions to life,” Unity said in a blog post. “Whatever the metaverse is or will be, we believe it will be built by content creators, just like you.”