The following report came to me by way of a very reliable source that has contributed things in the past that have come proven to be right. It seems that WETA is going to shop out some of the effects work on the trilogy to some other (big and small) special effects houses around the world.
It seems that the entrance of Jim Rygiel as Visual Effects Supervisor for the “Lord of the Rings” changed things a bit more than expected.
In order to keep up with the December deadline for “The Fellowship of the Ring”, it seems WETA Digital has had to farm out a part of the shots they were working on to third party studios. The biggest chunk went to Digital Domain (www.digitaldomain.com), one of the biggest houses in the U.S., known for award winning work like “Titanic”, “Apollo 13” or “The 5th Element” (as an interesting note, Digital Domain was the studio where Mark Stetson – the former VFX supervisor of Lord of the Rings – did most of his recent work).
Also involved now on the movies are Animal Logic (www.animallogic.com), the Australian leading visual effects company, which did ground breaking work for “Matrix” and the recent “Moulin Rouge”, and a lesser known company based in New Zealand, called Oktobor (www.oktobor.co.nz), specialized more in commercial and interactive design, rumored to be doing a couple of key sequences of the movie.
I have been working to get confirmation from all three SFX companies, they’ve all responded to my general inquiries, but I’ve only heard back from ‘Animal Logic’ on this topic so far. Their response was a ‘We cannot comment on this right now’, which is as close to a yes as you can get.
More on this as soon as I can get further confirmation.