US tech firm Unity Technologies has entered into a deal to acquire Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for $US1.6 billion.

Based in New Zealand, Weta Digital is known for providing visual effects to Avatar, Black Widow, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, and The Suicide Squad.

As part of the agreement, Unity will receive 275 engineers from Weta, as well as a mix of the company’s proprietary graphics and VFX tools, such as Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef and CityBuilder.

Weta Digital’s VFX teams will continue to exist as a standalone entity known as WetaFX, which is expected to become Unity’s largest customer in the media and entertainment space. WetaFX will still be under majority ownership by Jackson and helmed by CEO Prem Akkaraju.

In a statement, Jackson said the deal would allow aspiring creatives access to Weta Digital’s technology.

“Weta Digital’s tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations,” he said.

“Together, Unity and Weta Digital can create a pathway for any artist, from any industry, to be able to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools.”

A platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, Unity counts game developers, artists, architects, automotive designers, filmmakers, and other creators amongst its users.

Unity and Weta Digital aim to provide emerging game developers, artists, and consumer creators with greater tools and a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription model.

Unity Create senior vice president and general manager Marc Whitten said the company was excited to work closely with WetaFX to continue to “push the edge of the art of possible”.

“Weta Digital’s sophistication is represented by dozens of tools that all build on the same, unified pipeline,” he said.

“Alone, each tool is uniquely powerful, but as a complete platform, they represent a quantum shift in our ability to make it easy for artists to bring their imagination to life and work together like never before.”

The deal is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

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