Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Unity acquires Ziva Dynamics

Unity has acquired character and creature rigging tools developer Ziva Dynamics. All of Ziva Dynamics’ staff have now joined Unity. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

No changes have been announced to Ziva Dynamics’ commercial products, which include Maya muscle and soft tissue simulation plugin Ziva VFX and cloud-based facial rigging service ZRT Face Trainer.

The acquisition is the latest in a string of recent Unity buyouts of visual effects and games tools developers, including Weta Digital, SyncSketch and SpeedTree developer IDV.

A mainstay of character and creature rigging pipelines for visual effects
Founded in 2015, Ziva Dynamics capitalised on CEO James Jacobs’ experiences in the VFX industry, including periods as creature supervisor at both Weta Digital and Method Studios.

At Weta, Jacobs helped develop Tissue, the firm’s physically based character simulation framework, for which he received a 2013 Sci-Tech Academy Award.

The company’s flagship product, Maya muscle and soft tissue simulation plugin Ziva VFX, was released publicly in 2017, and has since become a staple of creature pipelines in the visual effects market.

The software has now been used on hundreds of movies and TV series, including Godzilla vs. Kong, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Captain Marvel, Game of Thrones, and games like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

New machine-learning-based technologies for facial rigging and game development
Ziva Dynamics has since diversified into other aspects of digital creature and human technology, launching machine-learning-trained online facial rigging service ZRT Face Trainer in early access last year.

The firm is also developing ZivaRT, a new machine-learning-based nonlinear deformation system for games characters, already used on Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

In addition, the company licences its digital human and simulation technology to enterprise clients in the fashion and apparel, sport science and healthcare sectors.

Strengthening Unity’s portfolio of digital human and creature technologies
The acquisition echoes Unity rival Epic Games’ recent buyouts of facial capture and rigging developers: technologies later used in its next-gen character creation system MetaHuman Creator.

In its blog post announcing the acquisition, Unity says that it “aims to further democratise Ziva’s … tools” and to make the creation of believable CG characters “accessible to a wide range of platforms and artists”.

We’ve contacted Unity to ask what this means for the pricing and availability of Ziva’s products, and will update if we hear back.

In addition, Unity says that it expects the buyout to accelerate the translation of leading VFX facility Weta Digital’s tools, which it acquired in November 2021, to game development.

Unity describes Ziva as “already [having] solved the challenge of bringing complex film-quality simulations to [real-time 3D]” in ZivaRT, which was trained using data generated by Ziva’s visual effects technology.

Pricing and availability
At the time of writing, pricing of Ziva Dynamics’ products remain unchanged.

For Ziva VFX, Indie subscriptions – available for productions with total revenues under $500,000/year – cost $50/month or $500/year. Ziva VFX Studio subscriptions cost $1,800/year.

ZRT Face Trainer and ZivaRT are currently in closed beta. No pricing or release dates have been announced.

Read Unity’s annoucement that it has acquired Ziva Dynamics on the company’s blog