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Unity is buying Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for $1.6B (techcrunch.com)
247 points by myth_drannon on Nov 9, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 131 comments

Wow. Weta works on some really big films, so it will be exciting to see the work that they have done become available in the asset store.

In the PR they say: > [...] the asset library we’ll inherit [...], which includes urban and natural environments, flora and fauna, humans, man-made objects, materials, textures, and more. The WetaFX team will continue their [...] work for major film and TV productions and feed into this asset library for years to come.

Peter Jackson (of LoTR fame) is one of the founders of Weta.

Sad to see another one of New Zealand's large, well known employers get sold.

I'm curious what the actual employee staff numbers are given the various Weta companies are AFAIK pretty notorious for using "temporary contractors" rather than actually employing people.

It's also an interesting development given that they only recently started promoting a cloud-based service for integrating their technology with Maya & Houdini.

IME is almost all highly skilled/(relatively) highly paid work in NZ is done by contractors. It's almost a right of passage for devs here.

For US HNers - it's different than in the US where health insurance is tied to employment. I typically have the exact same health coverage whether I'm employed, self-employed, or un-employed.

I’ll admit I’m inferring a lot from a single anecdote here: but from when I toured Weta the guide we had seemed very honest in saying the high proportion of contract employees was because of the unpredictable nature of the work. She’d work there for 6mo, then a project would wrap, and she’d have to go find a different job. Hopefully being able to come back if/when the next project came a long.

That’s a very different experience to the rite of passage a lot of devs (myself included) have taken because there’s high constant demand and high day rates.

Weta & Peter Jackson explicitly went out of their way to get a law change to prevent people who were working in the industry from having the worker protections to which they were entitled.

Thus, they're not "contract employees" but "independent contractors"--which, without the law change, wouldn't have been legal in the same way "gig workers" failed to meet the criteria of "independent" in many places/cases (e.g. working for more than one client at a time, having control over work location etc).

(There was some recent coverage of this history in this article (although it appears the relevant full text is not available online): https://web.archive.org/web/20210921132447/https://northands...)

I get that most NZ 'contractors' are de-factor permanent employees doing long stints that are quite stable. But for me - 6 months is a good engagement length. Happy to move on at that point.

Have no insider scoop on Weta in particular, but just hitting back that having contractors instead of employees is somehow unethical.

> just hitting back that having contractors instead of employees is somehow unethical.

It's unethical when the people concerned aren't independent contractors but are treated as such because it's cheaper for the company (e.g. in regard to sick pay, holiday pay etc) than treating them as employees.

If you like a 6 month engagement length, that's cool, there's nothing stopping you from agreeing to a 6 month employment contract.

Although even that is unethical on a company's part if they're taking advantage of power imbalances in the employment market to transfer risk/cost onto employees only "agreeing" to short term contracts under duress.

But I don't want to be an employee. I want to be a contractor. With all the rights & responsibilities that entails.

I mean how far do we take this - you've got 3 months worth of building to be done at your house, so you have to form an LLC and employ carpenters directly?

> I want to be a contractor. With all the rights & responsibilities that entails.

Cool, and one of those responsibilities is ensuring that the contract arrangement is that of independent contractor and not employee.

(Well, actually, it's more that your right as an employee is that your employer has the responsibility to ensure the arrangement isn't being misrepresented. So, really, you're free to make whatever arrangement you like but if your "client" is actually your employer they open themselves up to legal risk.)

And, if your arrangement meets the legal criteria, then great, you can be a contractor.

And, if it doesn't, then you can "lobby" the government to change the law so that you get what you want and other people get to be more easily exploited by their employers.

Or, you know, you can ensure that you have multiple clients, work at times & locations & on equipment controlled by you, on specific pre-agreed tasks and/or whatever other legal requirements need to be met to be considered a contractor.

With regard to the carpenters, company structure is unrelated to whether or not you're considered an employer by law. If the arrangement you have with the carpenters meets the criteria of being an employer/employee relationship, then, that's what it is.

But most likely they're independent contractors free to accept & refuse work as they wish, have & use their own tools etc etc or they're employees of a building firm you've actually contracted with.

Digital Artists who are contract based are not the ones developing software, the ratio is probably around 100 people in tech for 1k artists

Not just health insurance. What about vacation time (I get a day each pay period + 11 fixed holiday days + 6 week sabbatical + Fridays off in the summer), stock, life insurance, fitness facilities, etc.?

Contractors say when they want to take holidays. Your pay reflects the time you expect to take.

the entire film industry is "temporary contractors" visual effects most guilty of that among the various departments. (I work in a section of the industry)

I've worked with some of weta's toolset on the avatar sequels and I've also worked with unreal on various projects... it's interesting hearing this and I wonder if that's part of the toolset that will be released

You're absolutely right.

Given that the last National government passed the "Hobbit Law" to allow film industry companies to treat people who would, in any other industry, be employees, as contractors, as well as banning collective bargaining for them - the actual employee numbers will be verrrry low.

Only the very senior management are employees. But there are lots of long-serving staff who are basically employees. You earn more as a contractor.

Film projects have weird schedules. You simply couldn't run a business if you had to have a consistent set of people over time.

> Only the very senior management are employees.

In that case, maybe the senior management should stop referring to the other people as "employees" then.

And, if being an employee is such a bad deal, why would senior management choose to be employees rather than "independent contractors".

> But there are lots of long-serving staff who are basically employees.

There's no such thing as "basically employees" (or indeed "staff" who aren't employees) they're either "actually independent contractors" or "employees intentionally & exploitatively miscategorized as independent contractors").

> You earn more as a contractor.

That's certainly what the management want people to think, for sure. But if being an employee isn't even a possibility it's conveniently pretty hard to know if that's actually the case.

> You simply couldn't run a business if you had to have a consistent set of people over time.

Perhaps that means it's actually a "hobby" or a "charity" rather than a business then?

And, regardless, that just means you hire people as employees on fixed term contracts, not that you get to miscategorize them & get the law changed to make it "legal".

None of this is about a better deal for the people doing the work--it's entirely possible for a fully loaded employee cost to be 2x salary so if the company can get the workers to accept 1.5x salary & shift risk to them, well, that's just a great deal for the company, isn't it.

Especially in an industry with an unending supply of creative people willing to be ground up in the process of doing what they love.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from what happened to the dinosaurs that worked as "independent contractors" for oil industry...

Yes all these poor people forced to work for Weta lol.

> Sad to see another one of New Zealand's large, well known employers get sold.

We'll see. There's the risk of massive job losses in Wellington, which wouldn't spark joy, but they're an absolutely terrible employer in terms of workplace health and safety and sexual harrassment, so it's just as possible there is an improvement in employment conditions.

Workplace health and safety in a dev shop, can you elaborate on that? All I can think of is temperamental printers, crappy chairs and expired snacks in the honor box.

Project-based creative shops are known for having lots of crunch time (long hours), and judging by Glassdoor reviews, Weta is no different.

Apart from hours, special effects shops have been known to deal with such entertainment as people losing a mouthful of teeth during fight scene mocap or "dealing with James Cameron".

You forgot unwashed coffee pots in the morning. It’s all about the unwashed coffee pots.

"Well, i will be here on saturday. I hope the team does not let me down. This is the last time we will crunch over the weekend. Come on, whos with me."

> Sad to see another one of New Zealand's large, well known employers get sold.

Isn’t selling a success? That’s the whole idea!

Selling may be a win for the business owner, but since the parent commenter refers to the business as an "employer", they might be looking at it from a different point of view. Like that of the employees.

but why is a sale of the company supposedly bad for the employee?

Because new owners often can't manage what they've acquired and kill it off while trying to squeeze profit out of it.

Even less cynically, Unity is buying specific competence that they don’t already have. There are a ton of jobs at Weta that will be eliminated just by virtue of not needing the duplication across companies.

They won’t need all of the “normal” jobs that employ non-engineers (accounting, payroll, finance, legal). Marketing and sales will likely be cut in some form, a bunch of local contractors they use will likely be let go since the acquiring company will already have different relationships for those services.

It’s disruptive for the stakeholders when for example Google buys a Bay Area company.. it’s much more disruptive when an overseas company buys a (or the) big employer in a region.

There's a long-standing narrative here that acquisition by a foreign company is a loss for the local tech industry.

VFX companies don’t own any of the assets that they create for films, the studio does. I don’t know what Unity think they’ve bought there.

I believe they have done a ton of R&D. They recently announced commercial availability of some of their custom Houdini add-ons. https://weta-h.com/

Presumably Weta has a contract with studios that means the company retains rights to "generic" assets they create.

The are competing with Epic, which has a huge presence in the VFX industry - including Unreal being used on the real-time VFX for the Mandalorian. Weta was using Unreal at one time, as well. This is likely a more strategic move to a) obtain more studio tech to integrate with Unreal to make sure they do not loose the "high ground", b)obtain people in the loop who really know about high end rendering engine tech, in which they are behind Unreal and c) make sure Weta stays well away from Epic.

This is exactly on point. Unity is behind Epic in many respects relevant to both areas of business - classic game development and the nascent gaming-tech-used-for-movie-VFX business - and this acquisition is an attempt at fixing this deficit by throwing a chunk of money at someone.

This sounds like a beneficial merger that improves distribution of items already being created.

Unity is trying real hard to convince investors that it can compete with Unreal in the movie production space, while their actual capabilities are embarrassingly limited. Especially if you want to get shit done out-of-the-box, but also in terms of the max no-matter-the-budget end result quality. Hopefully they can catch up in the long run. The space needs competition.

Unity doesn't have to be an Unreal competitor -plenty of Unity folks in the Indie market (but I guess that's not where the money is) but I suppose you are right-for me, its easier to work with Unity than Unreal as a developer and I hope Unity can catch up technology wise.. not sure how acquiring WETA helps them in that.. its a cool Visual FX studio not a technology company..

I think you missed a key point in the GP's comment. This HAS to be about competing in use for movies, not game development. Unreal has made huge strides in being used for green screen backgrounds rendered in real time and I don't know what else.

This feels like a huge whiff to me, Unity needs to focus on games and just make money there. Games is a bigger market than movies at this point and there is plenty of room to grow there, especially if they can continue to make it easier for individuals/small groups to make a game in their spare time.

This is about being able to package and provide the Weta toolset to Unity developers. Imagine making video games with the Weta toolset.

Yeah it is curious. Unity was the simpler, easier, cheaper disruption to Unreal. It makes sense they work their way up the prestige ladder, but Weta seems a rung too far.

But a prestigious flagship does lift the whole company; skills/assets can trickle down to games; and they have been positioning themselves as a rival to Unreal for some time now.

> its a cool Visual FX studio not a technology company..

Weta develops metric tones of tech internally, including employing some of the top graphics researchers at various points in their careers. There is tons of tech talent in VFX and animation shops. Hell, I work with libraries open sourced by Pixar as part of my day job at a FAANG.

Weta does also run their own datacenter for local rendering; they use some network automation stuff I put together to run some of the DC switching side of things. They have internally developed render farm scheduling systems, lots of hardware competence and run up against hardware bottlenecks they solve in innovative ways. Unity could see render speed increases, better pipelines and other useful libraries included that will improve the development experience for unity games.

In the unity announcement they go over some of the tools weta have created: https://blog.unity.com/news/welcome-weta-digital

The announcement mentions that the "FX studio" part is getting spun out into "Weta FX" which isn't part of the acquisition, so the part Unity is acquiring is the "technology company" part of "Weta Digital".

I honestly had no idea Unreal was used in movie production. I thought it was only a game engine.

It's worth noting that ILM dropped Unreal in favor of their own engine for the second season.

do you have a source on that? Not questioning, but would like to know the details.

Unreal Engine is still used with StageCraft 2.0 but not as the “final frame” renderer which is now ILM’s Helios renderer.

According to the article Unreal is used as a DCC application alongside Houdini or Maya but the actual engine is now Helios.

Yes, but if you know what these applications are used for and read between the lines Houdini is used for simulations, Maya is used for (by hand) animations and UE is used for scene composition.

Also used in the UK to create virtual TV studios, notably for sports programmes where the pundits sit in a green-screen studio and impressive real-time backdrops are created around them. This allows a single physical studio to support multiple programmes using a range of different virtual assets. See [0] for a range of the different things Unreal is used for apart from games.

[0] https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/events/build-for-architec...

This is a move in the right direction however, albeit a bit unexpected!

Taking Procedural Movie-quality 3D asset tools and putting them in the hands of small studios to lift their games closer to AAA production values sounds like a smart play by Unity.

It's similar to unreal acquiring Quixel Megascans [1] so developers can just import high quality 3D meshes into their levels. Or Ninite [2] allowing artists to work without worrying about system polygon limits.

Seems like both tools (Unity, Unreal) are growing even further beyond mere rendering or in-game engines into full game construction tool-sets which empower developers during the entire game's production.

As 3D hardware grows in power, what was a "movie quality" asset and too complex for realtime rendering becomes a "standard AAA quality realtime asset." Especially as all engines bring forward a technology like Ninite.

[1] https://respawnfirst.com/unreal-engine-5-assets-powered-paki...

[2] https://docs.unrealengine.com/5.0/en-US/RenderingFeatures/Na...

> Taking Procedural Movie-quality 3D asset tools and putting them in the hands of small studios to lift their games closer to AAA production values sounds like a smart play by Unity.

Is it, actually? I mean it sounds nice but isn't Weta's entire pipeline optimized for offline rendering, yeah? Pre-rendered movies? I've seen a lot of game developers bite themselves in the butt trying to apply that kind of tech (and assets) to games which instead need to be optimized for realtime rendering.

Unreal has the tech to allow using such assets (Nanite), while Unity does not.

It's not a smart idea due to other factors as well, like storage usage.

Can't wait to see indie horror games rendering LotR assets with a PS1-style low-poly effect, VHS tape artifacts, and a banging synthwave soundtrack

> Weta Digital’s 275+ engineers will join Unity. The VFX artists will be spun out into a new entity, “Weta FX”, which Peter Jackson will continue to own the majority of. The two companies expect to continue working together, with Unity noting that it sees Weta FX being one of their “largest customers in the Media and Entertainment space” moving forward.

So, Weta FX will continue doing effects for movies, and the engineers from Weta will work for Unity, likely continuing to develop the tools they've already got, as well as contributing to Unity proper.

There is some kind of continuing relationship between the two: Weta FX will keep contributing assets to Weta Digital's (i.e. Unity's) asset library. Maybe that's in exchange for being able to continue to use the software? I haven't seen the deal spelled out anywhere.

From the Unity blog post [1]: "Another exciting element of this acquisition is the asset library we’ll inherit from Weta Digital, which includes urban and natural environments, flora and fauna, humans, man-made objects, materials, textures, and more. The WetaFX team will continue their industry-leading VFX work for major film and TV productions and feed into this asset library for years to come."

[1] https://blog.unity.com/news/welcome-weta-digital

When I was an extra on Lord of the Rings "Weta" was a distinct step of getting into the costumes. The three steps would be something like:

1. Weta (for the Urukai this would be the wetsuit-esque muscles outfit, armour and helmet/mask - before the combined them)

2. Wardrobe (The rags laid over the armour)

3. Makeup (not really needed for the Urukhai except I seem to remember they used to darken around our eyes)

The order would be slightly changed for the elf costume with makeup playing a larger part (this also involved the wigs).

It's hard to imagine what part the teams involved with this would be doing for Unity!

Sounds like you were working with Weta Workshop (props and costumes), not Weta Digital. As I understand it, they are separate companies.

It kinda sounds like Unity is overpaying for Weta, once all these different parts of the businesses are carved out of the sale.

Weta's internal tooling is really, really good.

How good? My typical expectation of in house tools is they're extremely powerful but full of interlocking dependencies and hard for outsiders to use without considerable training. Is Weta significantly above the waterline here?

Based on my experience there six years back it really was. It had to be given how many artists would be entering the company at a given time.

Is Unity anywhere close to earning as much as you'd naively expect from a company engaging in billion dollar takeovers or is that simply another venture capital bonfire?

I feel very much incapable to guess with even the tiniest glimpse of "educated" in it, and that's despite usually being far in the "more confident than I should be" corner when it comes to stuff like this. Both seem rather unlikely to me, but it has to be one of them, if not both.

Not sure that this really answers the question, but they're valued at around 13.6 billion with revenue for 2020 being around 752 million dollars, with an operating loss of 66ish million. Non-GAAP operating profit margin is expected to be a loss of $35 million to $45 million.


> naively expect from a company engaging in billion dollar takeovers

Unity's current market cap is $48B. Doing a levered buyout of another company that is ~1/30th of your size is stupidly trivial to do with cheap credit and an asset value that size.

For the uniformed - this is essentially how firms like Goldman Sachs make billions of dollars. Massively simplifying this, but they loan a portion of the $1.6B (let's say 50%) just like you would do on a house. The collateral is the stock of Unity in case they default on the payments.

It's a public company already. They do about a billion in revenue, growing quickly, and a net loss of about $60M.

Interesting enough though, much of Unity's profit derives from ads and payment processing.


> the company noted that it's the 11th consecutive quarter during which revenue growth reached 30% or more.

I think that just means revenue sharing with developers that use their engine. Not that surprising.

Do they have a revenue sharing model? I was under the impression it's a monthly subscription.


I think the monetization stuff (put ads in your game) is a separate service. I could be wrong.

i feel like they've given up and are going on spending sprees to catch up to UE

I wish they'd focus on fixing the things they've left broken and scattered throughout their engine rather than buying up companies in a space already absolutely dominated by their direct competitor.

Yep, as a long time unity user I really think Unity is just spaghetti all the way down to it's core. The number of strange memory leaks and graphics bugs you find once you really get into the engine is appalling. Frankly, it's probably the worst software I've ever had to develop on, and was a huge reason I ended up leaving VR/AR development and just went back into regular software engineering.

This is a tangent, but I have been thinking a lot about why Unity is valued so highly and maybe it makes sense. I wasn't quite old enough to even stand at this point, but based on what I've read, Unity does actually seem similar to .NET + Microsoft early monopoly on certain software stacks. That is, it was horrible to use, but did address a niche.

I'm literally reading this comment at 10pm because I'm sitting here doing a bunch of VR builds isolating why lighting is fine in the editor and broken when built.

Just curious but are the other better game engines like unreal or somesuch? I'm looking into game dev and wondering what to get started on.

Historically visual effects companies have been some of the worst investments possible. They traditionally haven't had much in the way of revenue generation outside of the five major production companies that they rely on to give them work. Fifteen years ago spending even 10s of millions to buy one would have been considered extremely risky.

Weta is much more than "just" a VFX company. That part is still going to stay with Peter Jackson.

What is being bought here is the technology. Similar to any big VFX company, there is a lot of proprietary technology (renderers, modelers, engines, pipelines etc) that Unity is purchasing here. VFX tech is worth millions. Ask Autodesk or Adobe.

I never said "just" - other companies have had proprietary software, though most of it has been more about customization and scaling then the refinement that sells most commercial graphics software.

Some software like Nuke had good internals and had a lot of development put into a polished interface, which then payed off in a big way. I'm not skeptical that weta has some good internal technology, I'm skeptical that it is worth 1.6 billion dollars, especially to Unity.

Yes, sorry, the quotes were meant to be air quotes.

I agree that the purchase price seems a little silly. They don't really have too much IP except for the in house tools, and 3d model assets.

I wonder how these assets will get licensed for use? Will it be a free for all (awesome!) locked under a pro/enterprise license (not bad) or under a license that will require a royalty-based payment to Unity?

If royalty based, the earnings from just the assets alone could be in the tens of millions a year.

Some of the Weta software is awesome technology. Weta has a good engineering philosophy, and the ease of use for much of thier portfolio means that you don't require much training to work with it.

1.6 billion, and they don't even get the full company :(

Unity are not smart operators.

When Epic spent 1.6 Billion they got FallGuys, a large studio, and a publisher.

Unity has taken on debt to buy the chance to payout yet more salaries. When Epic spends, they do so from profits, to buy more profits and IP.

The incredible irony being Wata's asset library will all be high poly, and thus the only video engine able to run them: UE5

Unity must have plans for high poly rendering. Unity isn’t looking for game devs as they don’t have a publishing platform / game studio like Unreal does.

>Meanwhile, Unity will be taking over the development of Weta Digital’s many built-in-house tools — things like City Builder

I'm so excited about this, while an array of 3rd party tools exist, I'd love something straight from Unity. The existing city builders are basically hobby projects by a single dev.

That said, you can do some amazing things with them. As is Unity is much more accessible than Unreal, I'm beyond happy to see this

Sorry to sound negative, but what makes you believe you're going to get access to those tools? Do you believe they're just going to plug them into Unity and off you go?

My take is they're not going to see the light of day within the consumer market.

Not sure why it got downvoted but there is a dead post below this from SoundandPicture

>Unity made a video about the acquisition titled "Bringing Weta Digital’s tools to all creators"


Unity made a video about the acquisition titled "Bringing Weta Digital’s tools to all creators"


So they paid $5.8 million per engineer…nice.

And then on going wages, Superannuation (3% more), etc. Yikes.

They're mostly New Zealand staff, so cheap. Source: I'm an engineer in NZ.

Stop working for NZ companies. Look for remote Aussie ones. I would tell you to look for remote US ones, but I haven't cracked that code yet.

Source: also in NZ.

US and NZ timezones don't work well when collaboration's required.

US West coast is only 3-5 hours difference depending on daylight savings, but the day before. That's plenty of crossover for me. Australia is also 3-5 hours difference, NZ's not really close to anywhere

I'm in Agtech - if farmers can get up at 5am and do hard physical work, then I can start at 6am in my comfy home office.

What time do you have to get to bed to make that work? How much can you let it slip over weekends?

At this stage in my life I'm not really having 'big' weekends.

Already working remotely for a US company :)

Nice, any tips?

I had a former coworker who suggested me, not sure how I'd go about it otherwise.

We're remote first and are hiring for all sorts of roles if you're interested: https://www.tetrate.io/careers/ (scroll down to the bottom)

Damn! I thought things were better (than the US) over there.

If you're interested I'm in Brisbane and I run a DevOps discord: https://chat.learndevops.com.au/

You're welcome to join if you want to chat to other engineers, a few of which are in your local area or close :)

Speaking of making films in unity: The first feature length animated movie made in a game engine (unity) just came out last week. What’s more, it was made by a solo filmmaker. It has a fully interactive version released on itch.io as well (link is in the description)


What the hell did I just watch? Feature length that may be, but that's more of a fever dream than a movie.

Fever dream is a fun way to put it. It’s definitely unique

I'm interested in starting a film studio using ILM's 'The Volume' technique: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/20/how-the-mandalorian-and-il...

but ILM has it all locked up. If Unity/Weta could recreate this as a product package.. well, that'd be a game changer for indie cinema.

There are several companies offering this out there. ILM definitely doesn’t have it “locked up”.

Do you have any links? I've looked and not found any, but happy to hear there are alternatives.

Unity is betting big on VFX Virtual Production, what a huge step this is. Unreal is of course ahead in this space, with major productions like Mandalorian to back it up. This is very interesting and exciting to see what will happen. Weta is so beloved in the industry, and has so much expertise, hope nothing is lost in this transition.

Was wondering why virtual production doesn't pop up more often in this thread. The Mandalorian and its behind the scenes triggered a slew of similar studios, for example [1]. Alot of them use Unreal in their workflow. (Another tool often used is Notch[2]). And COVID (travel restrictions, no in-person events etc.) gave them a huge boost.



Link is so riddled with ads I can't even load it. Alternate link: https://blog.unity.com/news/welcome-weta-digital

Having the capability of generate large independent AI entities with Massive inside a videogame, will leverage the usability of Unity by non coder.

Color me surprised that Unity had 1.6 billion.

Slightly sad that their expertise won't be available to the movies anymore I suppose.

This one shouldn't be an issue.

> The WetaFX team will continue their industry-leading VFX work for major film and TV productions and feed into this asset library for years to come.

Only because it takes years for the corporate sarlacc digestion process to complete.

Remember when Facebook said Oculus would be independent for years to come?

From the article: "The VFX artists will be spun out into a new entity, “Weta FX”, which Peter Jackson will continue to own the majority of."

There are two different Weta companies being talked about. Weta Digital, which makes VFX tools and does VFX, is being split. The Weta Digital name and the VFX tools, assets, and software engineering have been bought by Unity. Weta FX has been created, is not owned by Unity, and will continue doing VFX.

(There is also a third big Weta company, Weta Workshop, that does physical props, costumes, models, etc.)

And it did for 4 years.

Why? Isn't the point Unity buying them in the first place to try to get into the VFX market?

Would this also be a move to establish itself for the "Meta-verse" market?

Damn, that sucks.

Yeah I hope the continue making films. One of the best out there!

Weta, ILM and Pixar were always some sort of beacon of innovation not only in visual development but also in development in general they usually pushed for standards and compatibility between different software packages, operating systems and so much more. Some of their open sourced tools are now standard like munki https://www.munki.org/. I am saddened to see that none of them could stay independent.

VFX houses avoided opening their common tools for way too long, especially after moving from SGI to Linux around the turn of the century. To their detriment, constantly on the border of bankruptcy. Blender is only just starting to get used.

They don't use much Apple or OSX.

The economics of using OS X for VFX work just doesn't add up. When the machines from Apple are easily double what a machine built by an integrator will cost. Add to that the hardware support has always been flaky (see: Nvidia/Apple spout causing new cards not to work).

When your house requires you to have a large influx of contact workers, you want to have the cheapest most efficient setup possible. Apple just doesn't cut the mustard here.

ILM and Pixar both started out as subsidiaries of Lucasfilm. None of them were meaningfully set up for actual independence as much to minimize risk for the companies they spawned from, and it kind of makes sense what happened to them. Parasitic companies make the most beautiful of things, but ultimately can't really be separated for very long.

Pixar has never really been independent of Disney. ILM has always been a Lucasfilm subsidiary and has continued to put out great work even after Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney.

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