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Linux In Hollywood: Status Report 176

segment writes "TechNewsWorld is running an article about Linux in Hollywood. The article describes speed advantages, cost advantages, movies in which Linux played a role (including Shrek, Star Wars, and Titanic). Mentions of the embrace for Linux with history on Apple, Microsoft, and other vendors, and how they've adapted to the use.`As a rule, no major studio will rely on a tool without access to the source code. The risk is too great. It's not that the studios want to putter around modifying commercial programs, rather it's insurance -- insurance that they can do so if they must to meet a production deadline.` Very informative article." Robin Rowe (the author) is the project manager for Cinepaint (formerly "FilmGimp"), but writes about 3D applications, barriers to software entry in Hollywood, and more.
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Linux In Hollywood: Status Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    to change the source code in order to meet a rendering deadline? are they going to suddenly come up with a miracle optimization because they need to meet a deadline?
    • i dont understand either, i'm not sure how changing the source would help meet a deadline like that, but it does mean that if someflaw like a segfault shows up because of the way they did something, they can fix it to meet a deadline rather than redesign the entire scene to do it differently
    • by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:36PM (#7099239)
      I think they are referring to bugs. If you have a bug that is holding you up, you are much better off if you can fix it yourself rather than relying on a closed source software vendor to fix it for you.
    • there could be rather simply fixed bugs, or simply added features that would save much much much time.

      now, in the model of closed software, those features could be added or bugs might be fixed within a year, where in the open source model they could be fixed/added withing mere weeks or days(by employing coders for that purpose), which can mean a lot of $$$ saved.

    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:55PM (#7099365) Homepage Journal
      "are they going to suddenly come up with a miracle optimization because they need to meet a deadline?"

      Why not? Movie studios tend to push the limits of the tools they have available. This means that they run into problems that the software wasn't originally designed for. All they'd have to do is massage the code to their particular situation.

      I can give you a hypothetical scenario. Lightwave's a kick ass 3d package. It can be used in a wide variety of things. But if you were using it to animate 1,000 monsters coming down a hill, you'd find yourself wishing you had terabytes of memory. Lightwave doesn't have an instancing feature. Thankfully, though, Lightwave has a neat little SDK. So somebody could write a plugin that says "first render this model in this pose here, then move the model over to where the second guy is supposed to be and render it over there, rinse and repeat...". I think it's called instancing. Instead of having 1,000 monsters in RAM, you just have one.

      See what I mean? Granted, nobody has the source code to Lightwave but the company who made it, but imagine if they did. A few nights of coding would save a few weeks of render time.
      • "Thankfully, though, Lightwave has a neat little SDK. So somebody could write a plugin that says "first render this model in this pose here, then move the model over to where the second guy is supposed to be and render it over there, rinse and repeat...". I think it's called instancing. Instead of having 1,000 monsters in RAM, you just have one."

        Yes the feature you are talking about is called instancing I believe. Seems to be a really useful took to have availalble to you. Here is a link that I found in
      • There are a couple of problems with your example.

        First of all, the SDK only supplies hooks into the black box of the proprietary code. This is still not as good as having access to all of the code; if the SDK sucks, then you're still screwed.

        And now to digress: instancing can only go so far. In an example of 1,000 monsters running down a hill, you only have one source model, but that model still has to be loaded into memory once for every instance. Every polygon still has to be rendered; heaven forbid
        • "First of all, the SDK only supplies hooks into the black box of the proprietary code. This is still not as good as having access to all of the code; if the SDK sucks, then you're still screwed."

          Your point is very true, guess I didn't clarify enough when I said the bit about nobody haveing the source code to Lightwave.

          "And now to digress: instancing can only go so far. In an example of 1,000 monsters running down a hill, you only have one source model, but that model still has to be loaded into memory o
          • Again, you wouldn't need to make the renderer do that. The worst case scenario is you script LW to render the object to a buffer, transform and light it, then render it again on top of the buffer of the previous image. Build it up. Actually, that's more or less what LW's renderer does on a per-polygon basis. Incidently, there's a plugin for LW right now that does the instancing trick. Somebody in this thread brought it up already.

            I'll have to look into that plugin. Would be nice to have. :) Too

    • I think what they mean is that if they come up to any problems which requires a software work-around, they'll lose time waiting for the vendor to address the issue. Chances are, they run into this problem during post which is expected. So, they eat into their padding time. Now - if the job will take only five days to do in house, double that for out of house work. So, with the source code, they gain back their five days which they could put to other uses. Like snorting cocaine off a prostitute's breast
    • by foandd ( 629361 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:13PM (#7099486)
      Yes. In fact, DD did exactly this when they ran into a problem while rendering the water for Titanic.

      Remember, just because you're not clever enough to imagine a situation where having the source code is useful doesn't mean such situations don't exist.
    • As an ex member of Pixar's Graphics R&D group: Yep, exactly that happens. Often times a scene will have some sort of issue that you otherwise wouldn't see, texture memory access patterns, whatever.

      There's nothing like having a real world test case to get those optimization neurons working.

      New features happen in the slack time, making them work fast happens when the production deadline is fast approaching.

      • Often times a scene will have some sort of issue that you otherwise wouldn't see,

        Remember the "Genesis planet" sequence from Star Trek - The Wrath of Kahn? Dates back about 20 years. Obvious CG -- it was supposed to be -- animation of a planet coalescing, mountains rising, etc as the POV swept in and across the surface. Just one problem, the damn mountain range kept rising right into the flight path. They ended up hacking the software so that a canyon opens up just as the POV gets to the mountain ran
    • Keep in mind that Duff's Device came around as a way to speed up an animation playback program at Lucasarts. Small optimizations make huge differences.

      http://www.lysator.liu.se/c/duffs-device.html
      • I have seen the same code implemented in PDP-11 assembler (near enough C, but without the structure blocks) by a certain Dave Cutler in the source of the RSX-11M executive for block moves, about eight years before Duff.

        The thing is that AT&T's compiler supported the extensions provided by the VAX instruction set, the block move would have been done with just a

        _MOVC3 cnt,src,dst

        which existed on Digital's compiler, but not AT&Ts. This emitted a single character move instruction on all VAX systems

    • FYI: they hadn't figured out nor written the software to do the hair on the main character in Monsters Inc until the project was more than 50% completed and they were ready to start rendering to film.

      Yes, hollywood doesnt use the junk that users use... they actually get their hands dirty and dive into the process...

      Dont even think that a low end app like lightwave or maya could even touch what they do at pixar.
      • Pixar and all of the major Hollywood studios use Maya extensively in their pipeline.

        That being said, they all develop extensive plugins when the standard abilities that Maya provides do not meet their needs.
      • Maya is probably quite a bit more elegant for most things than Pixar's software I would imagine. I think that statement is quite uniformed. Pixar has used maya for modeling for quite a while. ILM, Imageworks, Tippet, The Mill, Framestore, Digital Domain, and Weta use maya extensivly. Although none of these companies are actually in Hollywood.
    • Yes, this is exactly what we do. There have been several kernel patches contributed by special effects compainies. Also read about the patches to Gimp, or about the EXR file format.
    • I think these responses all miss the obvious reason, protecting themselves from the software company. Studios make enormous investments in sytems and product. They need alternative avenues for support and development should the original supplier no longer be there for them for any reason: bankruptcy, cost, end-of-product life, whatever. Source code in hand means they can always keep going.
  • Hipocrits (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Wasn't it the MPAA that said (and I paraphrase) "All Linux users are pirates".

    What hipocrits.
    • I'm not so sure about that quote, but they did support the SSSCA bill which would have outlawed all computers and software that didn't have DRM and copy protection built in. That bill would have outlawed Linux and all other open source software (computers do nothing but move bits around, if you have the source, you can bypass the DRM). So in that sense, it is hypocritical for them to be so eager to use the very software that they tried to kill.
      • So in that sense, it is hypocritical for them to be so eager to use the very software that they tried to kill.

        You may have noticed that there is a big difference between "us" and "them". It's okay for "them" to save a big bundle on production and distribution, and have their business model officially supported by the government, but we won't be seeing any competitive pricing in the near future. I'm no fan of the current trend of widespread copyright infringement, but the consumers need more choices than p
    • Re:Hipocrits (Score:5, Informative)

      by malducin ( 114457 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:56PM (#7099746) Homepage
      You neglect the fact that "Hollywood" is a big heterogenous machinery. Movie studios (Disney, Universal, Fox, etc.) are the members of the MPAA. VFX studios (ILM, Imageworks, Digital Domain, Weta, Tippett, Rhythm and Hues, Cinesite, Framestore/CFC, etc.) work for Hollywood by providing a service. They are not more than contractors, not much unlike the catering company, or even say you plumber. VFX studios are not members of the MPAA and have no say on projects or policies.
    • What hipocrits

      That's the suits up in the Ivory Towers heating up the air. OBVIOUSLY not the artists down in the trenches.

  • by bluethundr ( 562578 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:33PM (#7099206) Homepage Journal
    OF COURSE they use Linux in Hollywood! It's the natural choice of evil supergeniuses everywhere! [nata2.info] What's that? Still not convinced? Allow me to present exhibit 'A'! [slashdot.org]
  • by tarquin_fim_bim ( 649994 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:33PM (#7099209)


    Windows In Holywood: Status Report [thecityofhollywood.org]

  • Oops my bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <sil.politrix@org> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:34PM (#7099217) Homepage Journal
    Wow can't believe I didn't include something about Revolution OS [hollywood.com]

    The documentary Revolution OS explores the human side of the open source and free software movements, illuminating the behind-the-scenes story of the hackers and programmers rebelling against the corporate machine.

    This 90-minute film begins with Richard Stallman's quest to create a free operating system. It then follows the movement through its two-decades-long evolution in interviews with Stallman, Linus Torvalds (creator of the open-source operating system Linux), Eric Raymond (author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar), Bruce Perens (author of the Open Source Definition), Brian Behlendorf (leader of the Apache Web server project), Michael Tiemann (founder of the first open source company) and Larry Augustin (founder of VA Linux Systems). Revolution OS also depicts the culture of the open source movement by documenting the Installfest parties where people can bring their computers to get free, expert Linux tech support; and the Refund Day protest marches, where Linux users demand reimbursement of the extra fees that get tacked onto the purchase price of new computers for pre-installed Microsoft applications.

    Didn't even stop to think about the new Sinbad movie [wired.com] from Dreamworks either. Or IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) [com.com] Sorry FYI

    Linux Storms Hollywood [linuxjournal.com]

    Linux in Hollywood a Star is Born [computer.org]

  • "For production of Sinbad every workstation and the entire renderfarm was Linux," notes DreamWorks head of animation technology Ed Leonard.
    story [slashdot.org]
  • Alas, poor SGI (Score:5, Informative)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:43PM (#7099290) Homepage Journal
    Anybody working at SGI (Silicon Graphics before the big rebranding) will find this story extremely discouraging. It isn't just that it talks about Linux/commodity systems taking over a market that used to be dominated by Irix/SGI systems. It's the attitude expressed in the article, which has to have been picked up from the people the reporter interviewed: SGI products are legacy technology. They don't compete with Linux based systems -- they're just something people have to hold onto unti l the corresponding Linux technology matures enough for to replace it.

    The one SGI product mentioned that is moving forward is the Linux version of Maya -- and the reporter seems unaware that Maya is an SGI product! A sad outcome for a company that once dominated computer animation.

    • Re:Alas, poor SGI (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      SGI bet on NT and lost. Also, both SGI and E&S had a difficult time transitioning their graphics experience into the PC market. They couldn't bring themselves to stripping their cards down to an affordable price, they lacked PC interface experience, and that market is simply more brutal than the workstation market. 3DLabs and then NVidia ate them up at the low end.

      • This is a good point. One wonders what would have been had SGI done like IBM and embraced Linux...
      • Re:Alas, poor SGI (Score:3, Informative)

        by AJWM ( 19027 )
        SGI bet on NT and lost.

        Yep, and the guy responsible for SGI betting on NT, Rick Belluzzo, went on to head up Microsoft's internet operations. A reward for a job well done, even as SGI was tanking?
    • Re:Alas, poor SGI (Score:5, Informative)

      by gmack ( 197796 ) <gmackNO@SPAMinnerfire.net> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:14PM (#7099492) Homepage Journal
      SGI has been wanting to dump Irix for years with good reason.. I recall SGI making noise about going NT on Intel before finally unleashing a small army of developers on the Linux kernel to bring performance up to par for their needs.

      I still have archinved posts of Linus flaming one of their enginneers for trying to mod the linux OS to improve the performance of Maya when an app change would have been more efficiant.

      Make no mistake, SGI was one of the earliest backers of Linux in movie production and actively sells Linux/Intel hardware to the studios.
    • I think the general trend of the article was that Studios save money using Open Source solutions, and have the freedom to customize that software. This is why the studios are slowly moving away from SGI systems for graphics rendering.

      A copy of Maya runs from $2000 to $6000 (alias.com) and is _closed_ source. On the other hand, several applications like Blender (blender3d.org) are free and _open_ source. The richness of features present in Maya secures SGI's position in the 3D animation market, but the pr
      • 3 problems with that argument.

        1. Maya is an Alias Wavefront product, not SGI.

        2. Maya runs on Linux.

        3. SGI sells Linux/IA-64(Itanium 2) machines.

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )
        First of all, you're reading too much into what I said when you assume that I'm defending SGI's mistakes. Perhaps you don't know the literary reference behind "Alas"?

        Second, your notions of how the movie biz works are pretty naive. Is your idea of an "Indie studio" a bunch of film geeks scraping together a few thou to make a bad horror movie? Real film making is expensive. Nowadays a "low budget" movie costs a minimum of $3 million to make. And the studios mentioned in the article spend more than that on


  • From the Slashdot story: "... it's insurance -- insurance that they can do so if they must to meet a production deadline."

    In actuality, we are all in the same situation, not just movie studios. We all need insurance that the software we use won't become useless to us because of decisions by companies over which we have no control. Open source is necessary insurance, not optional.
  • SGI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:48PM (#7099323) Homepage
    Well least they make a passing mention of the once great SGI hardware. T2 seemed to be the peaks and its been a bit downhill from there on it. However nice to see linux make inroads into the render farms. I have to wondered if however faster inter-connects would be needed between the nodes?

    Is gigabit network really fast enough or would something even higher be needed?

    Rus
    • As far as I know, the requirements for that would be pretty small, actually. You don't need realtime data transmission; you just need something fast enough to transfer the chunk to each node, I assume. Just because its animation, its no different than any other large data-processing being done by clustering. The data is easily predictable enough that it can be broken up for a bunch of nodes; so much, in fact, that BORG [project-borg.org] allows you to break up a rendering job into batches for independent computers to do, with
    • Well here is an article about ILM's network which requires a few 10G interconnects at the core and will soon upgrade:

      10G muscle [nwfusion.com]
  • by tokengeekgrrl ( 105602 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:56PM (#7099373)
    ...could see that if Hollywood, which invests millions of dollars into movies and technology, uses Linux for performance-intensive digital animation rendering and authoring, then it is most likely robust and stable enough to handle government database applications (which are not all that complex).

    I thought IBM embracing Linux would be enough to convince them that it should be considered but it wasn't. Maybe this will open their minds to the possibility a bit, especially given the huge cost-savings moving to Linux brings. With all the budget cuts, you'd think they'd be demanding we atleast look into Linux and run some pilot programs. Then again, 3 years ago it took them a while tp "be okay" with using Apache web server instead of Netscape Enterprise. Whatever.

    - tokengeekgrrl
    • It would take too long, and cost too much (Since time is money), to transfer government workers over to a new system. It's just not feasible, and it looks like it will never happen, unless the government really has an unsolvable problem with Microsoft products (extremely unlikely). Looks like the government is going to be using MS for a while.

      Even if, by some extreme (and unlikely) change of the computing environment, linux becomes the major workstation OS, and apps are targeted to it, I would highly doub

    • Rendering a film is a vastly different problem than running the DMV database. Linux may be appropriate for both tasks, but one does not follow from the other.

      -jcr
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:58PM (#7099391) Homepage Journal
    "Linux has won not only renderfarm servers, but the artist desktops of the top studios."

    Well, that startled me to a degree. A good chunk of the artists out there doing 3D stuff need Photoshop. What are they using in its place? (or do they have a Mac room running Photoshop elsewhere?)
    • by bluGill ( 862 )

      Wine (not sure if straight wine, or one of the comercial versions) runs photoshop. [winehq.com]

      They might get some use for the GIMP [gimp.org] too. It isn't as good as Photoshop, but it is free and does some useful things. Rumor is they are modifying a spcial animation version specific your movie studio use, but I couldn't find any links to confirm that so I'll leave it as a rumor.

    • Depends on the place. On small shops probably most of the work is done on PCs and Macs anyway. For big places the work is more distributed. The guy doing 3D, say particles or character animation, shouldn't need Photoshop, as that would be the responsability of the texture artists. Since the responsabilities are separate the texture artists might as well be using a PC or Mac.

      At ILM the rebel unit just switched to PCs with windows for that sort of work. On the other hand 3D artists, TDs, compositors, etc. ar
    • why do they need photoshop?

      CMYK seperation? no.. they are not going to print it.

      photoshop only has a tight grip on specalized tools that are pretty much useless for the movie-making aspect.

      (rotoscoping in photoshop is a major PAIN IN THE ARSE! film-gimp it's damned easy.... I am never using photoshop for anything but making simple graphics for after-effects.

      now THAT is an app that has no equal in the entire world... (Ok Commotion for the avid is better)

      we can make linux take over video and movie produ
      • "why do they need photoshop?"

        Texture painting and Matte paintings. There's also some touch up of video. I recenty used Photoshop to digitally remove some cars from a video. (It was just an experiment, though...)

        "(rotoscoping in photoshop is a major PAIN IN THE ARSE! film-gimp it's damned easy.... I am never using photoshop for anything but making simple graphics for after-effects."

        What does Film Gimp do to make that easier? I haven't done rotoscoping yet so I'm curious. :)

        "we can make linux take
    • Suprisingly little is done in photoshop. We usually use Macs for it.
    • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @10:53PM (#7100736) Homepage Journal
      A good chunk of the artists out there doing 3D stuff need Photoshop. What are they using in its place? (or do they have a Mac room running Photoshop elsewhere?)
      Well, I found the following information in an article online [technewsworld.com]. You might have stumbled across it before [slashdot.org], although it wasn't widely announced.
      Disney funded Linux developer CodeWeavers to make the CrossOver emulator run Windows Adobe Photoshop 7 on Linux -- without Windows.
      and
      Deep paint, with more than 8 bits per channel of color depth, is necessary to support the higher dynamic range of film. Could the Hollywood market support a commercial deep paint tool tailored to motion picture production? Considering the small market niche, studio technologists didn't think so.

      Hollywood came up with a novel solution. What if the popular Linux open-source GIMP program was enhanced for motion picture work? Although the industry couldn't justify developing a deep paint program from scratch, it could support a few open-source programmers to make a deep GIMP.

      ...

      Film Gimp was subsequently used by Rhythm & Hues for Scooby-Doo, Dr. Dolittle 2, and Planet of the Apes. Sony Pictures Imageworks picked up Film Gimp for use in Stuart Little 2. Hammerhead Productions used it in Showtime, Blue Crush, and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

      HTH. HAND.

  • BTW an example of rendering software that runs on Linux (and windows as well), just FYI.

    SoftImage XSI [softimage.com] is one example. Has lots of movie examples on its site, and you can download a free demo version. The demo version has no time limits, just it has its logo in the output and disables a few features. Pretty cool!
    • correction: the XSI is 3D animation software, not just the rendering engine.. wasn't thinking when I posted.
    • SoftImage is also a big part of why Half Life 2 looks so damn good, I recommend some of the E3 demonstrations such as Half-Life 2 Technical Movie Walls [gametab.com] or Alyx [gametab.com] (BitTorrent). It's really quite amazing, in Walls they compress approx 22K polygons down into one which has a "baked in lightmap" which allows it to still look and act like a high poly object.

      "Midway through the production of Half-Life 2," says Gabe Newell, Managing Director at Valve Software, "we realized that our tools were hamstringing our artis

  • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#7099407)
    "More than 350 Linux boxes were deployed during Episode II," says ILM production engineering manager Ken Beyer. Six hundred Linux desktops will be used for Star Wars: Episode III to be released summer 2005.

    So if ILM were to increase the number of Linux boxes devoted to Episode III from 600 to 800 or 1,000 boxes, would their rendering power be enough to improve Natalie Portman's (so-far) cardboard performance(s)?

  • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

    As a rule, no major studio will rely on a tool without access to the source code. The risk is too great.

    Did the source code to Maya suddenly become available?

    • Did the source code to Maya suddenly become available?

      For the right price, no doubt it is available.

      There are other arrangements that can be made. The source can be deposited with an escrow agent with an escrow agreement that the independant agent turns the source over to the studio under certian pre-specified conditions such as (1) the product is withdrawn from the market, or (2) no longer supported, or (3) company folds.
      • Escrow is completely different than being available during production.
        • Nonetheless, for the right price, and the right NDA you can probably get the source to anything.

          You could probably even make an arrangement to pay a fee for rights to buy NDA access to the source if you need it to meet your deadline. Pay now to get a guarantee. You are guaranteed to be able to get the source for another fixed fee if you must have it, but only for your own use under a very tight NDA.

          You might be surprised for how little such an arrangement could be worked out. The cost might not be
    • or... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <jamec@umiTIGERch.edu minus cat> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:30PM (#7099576) Homepage Journal
      or the source code of Softimage, Lightwave, 3ds max, Photoshop, After Effects, Flame, Inferno, Houdini, Avid etc.?

      Nope, none of them are open source, and each is used by at least one major studio. And if by "access to the source code" assumes monetary compensation in exchange, then by that definition pretty much every piece of software has accessible source code.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:06PM (#7099446) Journal
    As a rule, no major studio will rely on a tool without access to the source code.
    This is so completely false it's unbelievable. Studios use software such as Renderman, Maya, Filmbox, Mental Ray, RealFlow, Photomodeler, 3D Equalizer, Softimage, Photoshop and Shake all without access to the source. And they rely on these packages. They also rely on OSes such as Irix (still!) and Windows for which they have no source. This statement isn't even a 'stretch' of the word 'rule'. It's just plain false.
    • RTFA, Bunky (Score:5, Informative)

      by foandd ( 629361 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:22PM (#7099536)
      He plainly states in the article that the studios make special deals to have access to the source code for the commercial software they use, often at very high expense.
      • Occasionally they do. But most visual effects houses do not have access to the source for major applications and no effects house has access to all of the tools on which they depend.
        • Although some have a lower threshold. Some studios, mainly the animation ones were almost exclusively propietary (Blue Sky, Rhythm and Hues, PDI, Pixar, Hammerhead and pre 1989 ILM). Then again most of this places have adopted some off the shelf software, mainly Maya and Photoshop, for some of the work. Then again those are particular cases and you are absoulutely right.
    • -1: Not good enough at BS to hide the fact that he didn't read the article.
    • by wbattestilli ( 218782 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:39PM (#7099639)
      Disclaimer I work for Alias and I do custom development for major film studios but I do not speak for them.

      Just to clarify the above post. Alias does not give any customer access to the Maya source code. Many major studios do, however, pay us to develop certain features that they require.

      This service is available to any customer. For those interested, feel free to contact me directly.

      --
      Whitney Battestilli
      Software Engineer
      Alias
      wbattestilli at aw.sgi.com
  • by StandardCell ( 589682 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:29PM (#7099570)
    Note: I submitted this as a news story, and I believe it was major Linux-related news but it was rejected. Fortunately it's still relatively fresh and this a good topic to repeat it in. It clearly demonstrates that Linux is an excellent platform for editors in the broadcast field.

    From this link [avvideo.com]:

    Discreet Launches First High-End Online Editing System for the Linux Operating System Press Release -- Discreet

    Debuts smoke 6 Standard Definition Online Editing and Finishing System Page 1 of 1

    MONTREAL (Sep. 04, 2003) -- Discreet announced the high-end non-linear editing and finishing system for the Linux operating system, smoke 6. The addition of Linux workstation support in the version 6 release, combined with new pricing, will significantly extend Discreet's market for smoke; ensuring its accessibility to broadcasters and a new segment of mid-range post-production facilities. Discreet will debut both Linux and Irix versions of smoke 6 at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (booth 7.421) from September 12-16, 2003.

    With more than seven years of leadership in online editing, smoke will be one of the most sophisticated digital media applications ever released on the Linux operating system. The performance of today's PC workstations combined with newly enhanced capabilities of the Linux operating system enables robust support for the rigorous editing and finishing performance demands of smoke. smoke 6 on Linux is a standard definition (SD) editing system designed to work with Red Hat Linux 8 and will ship as a turnkey solution on IBM's high-performance IntelliStation Z Pro 6221 workstation.
  • "(and recently Apple dropped the price of the Apple version of Shake so much that the Apple computer to run it seemed free)"

    Shake for Mac OS X: $4,950
    Cheapest 1.6GHz G5: $1,999

    I'm not sure how anything could make that $1,999 seem to be $0.
  • Speed improvements (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <jamec@umiTIGERch.edu minus cat> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:38PM (#7099634) Homepage Journal
    "Back at ILM, sequence supervisor Robert Weaver noticed a tremendous performance boost upgrading from RISC workstations to Linux PCs during Star Wars: Episode II. 'The old system was so slow that the clones firing lasers appear to be throwing javelins,' says Weaver. 'We've seen about a 5x speed improvement in Linux. I'd say Linux is one of the most successful efforts we've had. I can't say enough good things about it. It is intuitive, incredibly stable, and we can get stuff fixed at a moment's notice.'"

    In other words, they were using now incredibly slow SGI boxes with RISC MIPS processors before and then switched to much faster PC's with x86 processors. The speed difference was caused not only by software but also hardware changes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have supplied special effects APPS for hollywood and they not only do not get the code, they do not have total control of the technology in any form once agreed upon as "acceptable".

    Furthermore... if the effect is not what they like... TOO BAD, they cut the scene, and i do not get paid, either credit, nor fee, but they have no choice.

    I have also done a code for a few rock concerts on theor giant video walls. Same thing, except that in that case I have a performers contract. I OWN MY PERFORMANCE... in th
    • Its a sick technically inept world, full of idiots and throttled by unions and buck-passing.

      There is some ineptness but there are also some very smart people working in effects. Studios certainly do hire programmers and know how to hire them. That stuff about unions is, to quote you, "a total lie". Unions have absolutely zero impact on the work of serious programming work in visual effects companies.

      They want to save all possible dollars on each film s a separate budget with no long term financial viewpo

  • What about the G5 (Score:4, Informative)

    by benwaggoner ( 513209 ) <ben DOT waggoner AT microsoft DOT com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:46PM (#7099688) Homepage
    Based on the article, it seems like Apple's new G5 systems would almost be a better fix for Linux for a lot of this stuff. SGI was too slow, and Windows too different an API to port. Mac OS X lets you run all the Adobe stuff natively, a real UNIX underneath for porting, and with the G5, a processor fast enough to get in the ballpark of x86 for price/performance. As the article mentioned, Shake on Mac is so much cheaper, you basically get the Mac for free!

    The new Photoshop CS announced yesterday definitely has the deep paint (and non square pixel support!) required to make it a great film/video app for a lot of stuff.

    The one big barrier I see is a complete port of Maya (Maya Complete not being complete, of course).

    *NIX to OS X porting will get a lot easier with 10.3 (out within 30 days?), which has X11 built-in, and a lot more Linux-like API stuff.
    • Mac OS X lets you run all the Adobe stuff natively, a real UNIX underneath for porting, and with the G5, a processor fast enough to get in the ballpark of x86 for price/performance

      Well, they don't need anything other than Photoshop from Adobe, which runs just fine on Wine nowadays (and other than the colour of the controls it is basically "native"), and Linux/x86 is far more attractive pricewise than a Mac...

      • Yeah, does WINE give you ColorSync or equivalent? I worry about color management.

        As for "far more attractive" I don't see that in the numbers. A G5 is quite reasonably priced for a dual processor workstation. Sure, you can buy cheap x86 boxes, and Apple doesn't make anything that low end, but animators aren't using eMachines boxes!
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