Comings and Goings
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Weta Digital appoints new CTO 

Former head of Disney Research Joe Marks joins Weta as chief technology officer.

Fri, 23 Oct 2020

Prem Akkaraju, chief executive of Weta Digital, has announced that Joe Marks has joined the company as chief technology officer. Marks is an industry leader with more than 35 years’ experience as a technology executive, with extensive background in graphics, computer science and research and development. Marks will oversee the company’s technology initiatives that span visual effects as well as the newly announced Weta Animated division and will report to Akkaraju.

“I’m thrilled to have attracted technology leadership of Joe Marks’s calibre to Weta Digital. A pivotal part of the future of VFX and animation rests in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. Joe’s deep experience in these areas makes for a perfect fit at Weta as we continue to push the boundaries of our industry,” Akkaraju, said.

“The addition of Joe Marks allows us to go deeper and push further into the technical innovations that will define the next generation of storytelling, Weta senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri said.

Marks joins Weta Digital from Carnegie Mellon University, where he served as executive director of the Center for Machine Learning and Health, working at the forefront of innovation in digital healthcare. Marks is best-known for his prior roles at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) and Disney Research, where he orchestrated and led the R&D organisation with labs in Pittsburgh, Zurich, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Marks’ research interests span CG, video processing, media distribution, robotics, HCI, mobile computing, computer vision, AI, sensors, embedded systems and behavioural economics.

Marks said: “Weta’s proprietary tools have long set the standard in simulating appearance and behaviour in virtual worlds. I’m excited about how we will build on this base: the incorporation of techniques from AI and machine learning will broaden the scope of what can be simulated; new display and camera technologies will enable us to connect the virtual world to the real world in exciting new ways; and cloud computing will allow us to do it all more efficiently.”

Marks has been active in the SIGGRAPH community, serving as its Papers chair in 2004 and Conference chair in 2007; he has a broad portfolio of peer-reviewed publications in applied computing. He has also managed more than $100 million in corporate and academic R&D spend in addition to co-founding two e-commerce startups.

Marks holds an AB in applied mathematics and a PhD in computer science, both from Harvard University. His appointment to CTO comes on the heels of other recent strategic additions to Weta Digital’s leadership team, including the announcement of Akkaraju as CEO in June 2020, to whom Marks will report.

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Weta Digital appoints new CTO 
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