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Weta Digital

Weta Digital

The visual effects work of Weta Digital remains in demand with North American film studios. In 2008, Weta completed work for Twentieth Century Fox films Jumper and The Day the Earth Stood Still and is continuing work on James Cameron’s Avatar, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009.

HQ: Miramar, Wellington Website: www.wetadigital.com

Global leader: Tom Greally, general manager

Core activity: Visual effects for film, commercials, TV and games

Revenue: Not disclosed

Key customers: North American film studios

Employees: Approximately 570 contracted crew

The visual effects work of Weta Digital remains in demand with North American film studios. In 2008, Weta completed work for Twentieth Century Fox films Jumper and The Day the Earth Stood Still and is continuing work on James Cameron’s Avatar, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009. General manager Tom Greally notes several other film studios that are working with Weta Digital: Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media for Prince Caspian, and DreamWorks for Peter Jackson’s film The Lovely Bones. Weta Digital is additionally set to work on Jackson’s and Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of three Tintin books.

“Our main customer base continues to be studios out of the North American market and our investments are generally geared to attract work from this market for the longer term. While the business operates in New Zealand, we play in the international market for the most part,” says Greally.

The company has 570 staff on contract and is an attractive workplace for ICT and digital graduates.

“We have never encountered a problem attracting staff and around 60 per cent of staff are from offshore. We are starting to employ different strategies by encouraging more local recruitment, along with internal training and development, as a means to gradually move to a 50/50 mix,” says Greally.

Weta recently established its own 12-kilometre fibre loop network linking the company’s Wellington facilities, using providers FX Network and CityLink. FX Networks also provides international data connections. The company has created its own purpose-built data centre, housing its render wall and storage equipment. Greally says Weta needed a facility able to meet its high density data needs and manage the heat output from that density, and a purpose-built, water-cooled facility is the result.

Major IT vendors are HP, which provides most render wall and desktop requirements; others include NetApp and BlueArc for storage equipment, while Foundry Networks provides network switches. Weta buys quad-core CPUs and has 20,000 cores that support its render wall. There are 1300 Blade Servers, 2500 computers and nearly 600 terabytes of networked storage.

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