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Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based vfx titan, has signed a multi-year deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create a new cloud-based setup for its vfx and animation production.

Here are the details of the pact:

  • The bulk of Weta’s IT infrastructure will move to the cloud. AWS’s technology will expand the computing and storage capacity for the company’s pipeline, which includes 100 proprietary tools, and facilitate the coordination of projects on a global scale. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Weta will use the full suite of AWS infrastructure and services including compute, storage, security, machine learning (ML), and analytics. With Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Weta Digital will have expanded access to a broad range of specialized graphics processing unit (GPU) instances for better integration of ML into the vfx creation process.
  • In June, Weta hired a new CEO, Prem Akkaraju, who announced that the company was entering a “hypergrowth stage.” At the same time, the company announced that it had started producing original animation through its new Weta Animated division. The cloud will support these animated projects, too.
  • Founded in 2006 as a subsidiary of Amazon, AWS has grown into a core part of the tech giant’s business. Its revenue in the most recent quarter was $10.8 billion, and it accounted for 64% of Amazon’s profit in that quarter. Clients include NASA, Facebook, and Netflix.
  • Although Weta and AWS began talks before the pandemic, the advantages of the cloud in this period are clear. “Weta established a remote collaborative workflow in March due to the pandemic to seamlessly continue work on the Avatar sequels and other films,” said Akkaraju. “With the power of AWS, we can now take that success to a global scale. Drawing on AWS’s virtually unlimited compute capacity, we can empower our artists to work safely and securely where they want without technical limitations. In addition, using the breadth and depth of AWS services we can more easily test new ideas and technologies as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in visual effects today. AWS services, such as machine learning and data analytics, will help Weta deliver projects faster and more cost effectively.”
  • Weta provides vfx for major feature and tv productions, with credits including Avatar, Game of Thrones, and Avengers: Endgame. Weta was founded in 1993 to handle effects on Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, and went on to work on his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson and his partner, the writer and producer Fran Walsh, intend to write, produce, and direct several of the company’s upcoming animated projects.

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