Evolution takes strange turns on islands. Sheltered from competition from established mainland creatures, species can grow freakishly large. New Zealand, for example, evolved the giant flightless moa and the world’s largest eagle. Perhaps the same process accounts for the growth of New Zealand’s vfx giant, Weta Digital. Less than a decade ago, Weta was a midsize vfx operation of some 120 people, mostly working for a local filmmaker. But that filmmaker was Peter Jackson, and when he went on to become the creative force behind four huge visual effects blockbusters, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong,” Weta grew into one of the world’s most successful visual effects shops, with more than 400 staffers. One hint of Weta’s stature is the launch of the AnimfxNZ symposium. It’s the only such event in the Asia-Pacific area with a partnership from the Visual Effects Society. Now that Jackson seems to be taking a pause from tentpoles, can Weta survive competition with the rest of the world? [More]