In a major shakeup of the high-end digital character creation world within the film industry, Unity has announced the release of its new Wētā Tools division to help deliver an array of solutions and features for artists to collaborate and create both 2D and 3D content.

Let’s take a look at a bit of the history going on here, and what Unity has planned for inclusion in this new Wētā Tools offering, along with some tips for how digital character creators, 3D content developers, and even your run-of-the-mill motion VFX artists might be interested in this news.

Unity and Weta Digital

When Unity acquired Weta Digital back in 2021, we knew the world of digital design and character creation was going to change. We just all hoped it would ultimately be for the better. Because there’s a bit of reason to be both excited and suspicious when a large video game and software company buys so much of a brand behind such a popular array of films and shows.

However, two years later and it sounds like the creative force behind projects like Avatar, Black Widow, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Planet of the Apes (to name a few) has finally helped Unity truly become one of the world’s leading platforms for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D content.

And, from Unity's press notes, it sounds like the company is really focused on bringing new assistance and expertise to those up-and-coming character and creature designers working both in film and video games. As the company shares, “Unity Wētā Tools for character artists simplifies workflows by reducing medial tasks and accelerating iteration cycles.

New Tools for Character Designers and 3D Artists

From just looking at Unity’s website for Weta Tools, it looks like we’re getting a huge array of tools and features which should be appealing to any mix of content creators of VFX artists. Launching in a beta for now, Unity is dropping a realistic character design tool called Ziva, a complex hair and fur engine with Wig, a deep compositing toolset which should help with CG renders and even a SyncSketch real-time feedback platform.

“Our goal with these advancements is really to help artistic creativity flourish, not to interrupt it. At the end of the day, filmmakers and artists want to know how technology like ours is going to help get more shots out the door, and that’s at the core of today’s updates. We’re bringing the functionality once reserved for top-tier VFX houses to all creators to help them get closer to their creative visions.” — Timoni West, VP of Unity Wētā Tools

The goal for Unity and this Weta Tools release certainly seems to be focused on streamlining content creation and bringing so much of the creative power and force of Weta Digital to creators of any project type or need.

The Looming Future of AI

Still, as with any tech release in film and video today, we have to skim through the notes to see if — and more often, what — is going to eventually be automated by artificial intelligence. And according to interviews so far, AI will be a part of this new Weta Tools release.

However, the goal of AI in Weta Tools should be at least initially focused on the creator-end and as a way to assist in design and development tasks, not fully automate or replace them. And, as with most AI tools with video editing these days, it should probably work this way for some time as a way to speed up procedure tasks.

Still, we’ll keep tabs on this story as it develops and share more news and insights into how video editors can expect to utilize these new Weta Tools more in the future.