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DNEG Acquires Unity’s Ziva Toolset

Leading visual entertainment company nabs exclusive license for the powerful character-simulation software and will onboard a large portion of the tech team; real-time character creation, assisted by machine learning, enables artists to craft accurate and scalable digital characters efficiently.

Leading visual entertainment services company DNEG announced its acquisition of the exclusive license to Ziva, Unity’s digital toolset for character and creature creation. Under the terms of the transaction, DNEG will also onboard a significant proportion of the Ziva team. DNEG did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

The license acquisition bolsters DNEG’s position in the creation of digital characters and creatures for its Hollywood studio work and across other media. The character-simulation software, with real-time technology assisted by machine learning, enables artists to craft more accurate and scalable digital characters with greater efficiency and control.

The deal creates a competitive advantage for DNEG IXP, DNEG’s immersive experiences division, which launched in February 2024 under the leadership of former R/GA and Wieden+Kennedy executive Josh Mandel. It brings DNEG’s Academy Award-winning creativity and technology to brands, businesses, and games publishers. Ziva’s toolset and its future development at DNEG will support creation of real-time interactive digital humans and creatures for DNEG IXP’s projects in the worlds of gaming, virtual concerts, and theme park ride experiences, and for next-generation headsets such as the Apple Vision Pro.

“This transaction furthers DNEG’s strategy of continual investment in technology to reinforce our leadership position,” commented DNEG Global CEO Namit Malhotra. “The integration of the Ziva toolset into our technology stack helps our artists to deliver incredible cinematic performances and experiences for discerning movie-lovers worldwide and also supports our strategic move into immersive experiences with the launch of DNEG IXP, enabling the creation of feature film-quality digital characters and creatures in gaming and immersive environments. I am thrilled about the possibilities that this transaction opens up, both for ourselves and for our partners.”

“Bringing the Ziva toolset in-house - along with a significant proportion of the team behind it - is a perfect fit for DNEG and gives us a strong competitive advantage in the development of sophisticated and wholly convincing digital characters and creatures,” added DNEG Global CTO Paul Salvini. “This is an important area of growth for DNEG and will further enhance our digital character and creature work, not just for film and episodic work, but for real-time and immersive applications too. Ziva will be fully integrated into our new, state-of-the-art pipeline - Helix - expanding our portfolio of artist tools and helping to position our technology as the preeminent platform in the industry for content creation at the very highest levels of quality. I look forward to working with the team to support the further development of the product, and to helping take the Ziva toolset in exciting new directions.”

Since its 2015 launch, Ziva has become an industry-standard toolset for creating high-quality digital characters and creatures for visual effects, animation, and gaming companies. The Ziva suite of tools powers the creation of hero digital characters and creatures for film, TV, and gaming cinematics; brings cinema-quality characters into real-time gaming environments; and introduces interactive digital humans and characters, elevating immersive experiences across live entertainment, retail, and healthcare.

DNEG has utilized the Ziva toolset to help deliver performances by digital characters for many high-profile projects, including recent shows such as Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Fast X, Venom, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Meg 2: The Trench, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and upcoming releases such as Animal Friends and the animated feature The Garfield Movie.

Source: DNEG

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.