Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

Unity discontinues the Ziva products

Unity has discontinued its Ziva products: Maya tissue simulation plugin Ziva VFX, its new real-time counterpart Ziva Real-Time, and cloud-based facial rigging service Ziva Face Trainer.

As of yesterday, 2 April 2024, Unity is no longer selling or actively supporting the products.

The changes were made as part of an ongoing series of product discontinuations and job cuts that previously saw Unity end its tools development agreement with VFX facility Wētā FX.

Some of the former Ziva developers will join DNEG, the international visual effects firm, which has acquired an exclusive perpetual license of the IP.

Unity no longer sells or supports Ziva VFX, Ziva RT and Ziva Face Trainer
The announcement marks the end of the line for the tools that Unity acquired in its buyout of their original developer, Ziva Dynamics, in 2022.

The original, and probably the best-known, is Maya soft-tissue simulation plugin Ziva VFX, used in high-profile VFX projects including Dune, many recent Marvel movies, and Game of Thrones.

It was later joined by two new AI-based tools, online facial rigging service Ziva Face Trainer, and real-time character deformation system Ziva RT.

All three were discontinued with little notice: the email informing users that the products are no longer being sold or supported, went out yesterday, as Unity announced the news on its blog.

Subscribers can choose to convert their existing licenses to five-year terms in order to keep using the products beyond their current expiration dates, albeit without active support.

They then have until 2 October 2024 to download the new license keys, after which point they will lose access to the Ziva customer portal, including online documentation.

Part of the Ziva team to move to new Ziva IP license holder DNEG
A “significant proportion” of the original Ziva team will move to international VFX firm – and long-term Ziva tools user – DNEG, which has acquired an exclusive perpetual license of the Ziva IP.

According to DNEG’s blog post, the technology will “further enhance” its creature pipeline”, and will also be used by its new DNEG IXP immersive experiences division.

There is no mention of any plans to make the technology available as commercial products.

Unity also retains ownership of all the technology it acquired from Ziva Dynamics, and will “continue to evaluate the best way” to use it to “enhance [its] core offerings”.

Part of an ongoing series of layoffs and discontinuation of Unity’s non-core products
In January, Unity revealed that it planned to lay off 25% of its workforce as part of an ongoing “reset” to refocus the company on its core games products – the Unity Editor, Unity Cloud, and its monetization services – and would “likely discontinue” other non-core products in future.

Unity had previously ended its professional services agreement with VFX facility Wētā FX, laying off 265 staff involved in developing Weta’s in-house tools, which Unity acquired in 2021.

Some of that technology had previously been due to become commercially available through Unity Wētā Tools: an offering now further reduced by the discontinuation of the Ziva products.

Aside from features of the Unity game engine itself, the only major technology listed on the Unity Wētā Tools webpage that remains commercially available is SpeedTree, the plant-generation toolset that Unity bought in 2021, and which is widely used in games as well as VFX.

Read Unity’s announcement that it is discontinuing the Ziva tools

Read DNEG’s announcement that it has acquired the license for the Ziva IP

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