Thursday, June 17th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Weta Digital unveils WetaM

Weta Digital and Autodesk have unveiled WetaM, a new cloud-based service providing users with access to the leading VFX studio’s Academy Award-winning in-house tools embedded inside Autodesk’s Maya.

The subscription-only service is expected to enter private beta at the end of this year.

Public access to 100 of Weta’s in-house tools, including simulation and animation tech
The new service will be the first product launch from Weta Digital’s new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) division, and will provide access to 100 of the studio’s proprietary tools inside a custom build of Maya.

There’s currently no information on exactly which products that includes, or whether they will all be available via WetaM from the start.

However, the launch video, embedded at the top of the story, features some of Weta’s best-known tools, including Barbershop, its Sci-Tech Academy Award-winning hair grooming toolset.

Lumberjack, Weta’s procedural tree-generator, and newer ‘ecosystem simulator’ Totara are also shown.

Outside Weta’s simulation tools, the studio’s AI-based facial animation toolset, and Koru, its high-performance character rig evaluation system, also both feature in the teaser.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but Autodesk told us that the service is “intended for use by all VFX artists”.

“WetaM is the first step in the democratization of VFX and animation production,” said Weta Digital CEO Prem Akkaraju. “This partnership with Autodesk will extend the reach of the Weta magic, making it more accessible for artists in pursuit of creating amazing characters and worlds across film and television.”

Rent a custom build of Maya directly in the cloud
WetaM is the first time that Autodesk has entered an agreement with a third party to sell Maya in the cloud.

Historically, cloud service providers have been able to able to offer ‘bring your own licence’ deals, in which users connect their existing Maya licences, but not to rent out the software directly.

That was the case with Amazon Nimble Studio, the cloud-based production platform launched by Amazon Web Services earlier this year, and precursors like Foundry’s short-lived Athera platform.

Pricing, system requirements and launch date
WetaM is due to enter private beta in Q4 2021. We’re checking whether the system requirements of the custom build of Maya will be the same as the standard version.

Updated 28 June: As a cloud-based service less reliant on local compute, system requirements will probably be “more akin to many of the remote working workflows that [been widely adopted] over the last 18 months”.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be a subscription-based service.

Read more about Weta’s in-house tools on the studio’s website
(No information about which will feature in WetaM at the time of writing)