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Linux goes to Hollywood 313

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-read dept.
j2brown writes: " Yahoo! News has this little article about IBM taking Linux to Hollywood. " It's not a very in-depth article, but it is interesting that Big Blue is saying that Hollywood will be moving their rendering stuffs to Linux in the next 12 to 18 months. Wonder how SGI feels about that.
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Linux goes to Hollywood

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  • by tbone1 (309237) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:41PM (#2111437) Homepage
    I'd like to see SGI, IBM, and Apple all fighing for this market. It should produce some great products...

    Final Cut Pro. IANAGP, but from what I've heard, this is a $1000 software package that is on par with software that costs $15000. The recent Discovery Channel documentary about North American dinosaurs was done with FCP, and I *think* that FCP was the only video software they used. The reviews of it have been glowing.

    (Of course, we all know that Apple machines cost $1000 more, so the companies should buy cheaper Linux boxes and then pay $15000 for the editting software ...)

  • Re:Big Issue (Score:3, Informative)

    by donglekey (124433) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @01:47PM (#2111544) Homepage
    I am not sure exactly what you are refuting. I know that PRman is used for almost all CG in films with BMRT and Mental Ray filling in a few gaps here and there. Not all studios are working for film however.

    I never said that PRman was new to linux.

    Maya, SI, 3DS, LW, and Houdini are the serious 3D programs out there. They are the complete, commercial, 3D packages used for production work 95% of the time. Cinema 4D might be there too someday. Axis, being shown at siggraph was done entirely with 3DS. All of Blizzard's animation is done with 3DS. Those five programs are what people buy when they are in a production environment. I realize that there are many side programs that have special uses.

    You are refuting statements that I have not made, so please, get a clue.
  • Re:SGI says this... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dmelomed (148666) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:33AM (#2114604)
    These applications are CPU bound. The OS of choice won't be doing much at all. As long as your machine is fast enough, the OS choice becomes a matter of preference. Solaris, *BSD, Linux, IRIX, HP/UX, even Mac OS X will do fine here. It's a cluster where application for rendering is parallelized (MPI/PVM type libraries). Or distributed, where the same application runs on a different data set on each machine. In any case, the OS is not a bottle neck, the hardware is. You only run a handful of processes, and you're not doing much I/O (unless it's fluid dynamics you're modeling, where I/O is important).
  • IBM is a bit late. (Score:4, Informative)

    by rogerbo (74443) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:37AM (#2119376)
    Um, changing to Linux for rendering in 12-18 months?? What rock has IBM been under? Visual Effects house have been using Linux rendering already for the past 12-18 months. Final Fantasy was rendered on a 1200 CPU Linux render farm (see the recent Ars Technica article can't be bothered to find a link).

    Lord of the Rings has at least several hundred CPU linux render farm of SGI 1200 boxes(see here: http://www.theonering.net/perl/newsview/8/98898287 4 ), sure other hollywood houses have them as well.

    SGI doesn't care because they sell a lot of rack mount linux intel render servers. The real next wave of adoption of Linux in visual effects is as 3d and compositing workstations. Maya, Shake, Rayz, Houdini all run fine on Linux with the right 3d card. The only reason Linux boxes don't dominate in Visual Effects is that high bandwidth playback eg playing 2k images in realtime of a disk array is not really possible under Linux. That's why they still have a ton of SGI octanes kicking around.
  • Big Issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by donglekey (124433) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:20PM (#2126945) Homepage
    This is a pretty big issue so I feel I should run down some of the more important points.

    First, yes, SGI offered Linux systems a long time ago and to my knowledge they have done very poorly. They were however for workstations and not rendering, as IBM's newest offerings seem to be. IBM is probably going into workstations too, but that isn't what the article is about. Many big companies with Big Money (TM) have invested a whole ass ton in SGI clusters over the years, from Onyx computers for compositing and play back, to Octanes for creation, to Origin's for processing job queues.

    Everyone is switching to Linux. PC's are so cheap and close to what SGI has to offer that it stands out as a clear solution. Pentium 4's and Athalon 4's are including more features suitable to rendering. SIMD instructions are great stuff for all the vector math that goes on behind the scenes. Linux costs nothing so when you have 1000 computers in your render farm you aren't paying $200,000 in licenses every few years. It is stable so that also helps everything, especially rendering. When a frame takes 8 hours to render, you don't want to worry about the OS crashing 6 hours through. You have 1000 computers and if they don't all work smoothly you are fucked. Lastly, Linux is unix, and that's important for an industry coming off of other unix platforms, mainly Irix.

    Software for Linux is Good Stuff (TM) in the graphics world. As far as rendering goes, you have the mighty PRman, Mental Ray, Blue Moon Rendering Tools, Jig, Entropy, and many other renderers. That's good enough for just about any studio. On the software front, you have the magic four (or five, depending on how you look at it) of Maya 4 , Softimage XSI 2.0, 3D Studio 4, Lightwave 6.5, and Houdini. Maya and Houdini run on Linux right now and can be purchased for a small (huge) fee. Lightwave is the most ported 3D application that I know of and runs on Amiga (earlier versions), Windows NT, Sun OS, Solaris, Mac OS, Mac OS X, and Irix. It shouldn't be a huge deal to port to Linux. 3D Studio is another story. It has a deep history of being rooted in WinNT, and didn't even run on NT for Alpha when Alphas were all the rage so only time will tell. Also compositing software like Shake is making its way as well.

    Last on the list is custom software. Pacific Data Images (Antz, Shrek) has written lots of software for Linux and ported lots from Irix as well. Linux is unix of course and that means that all the custom software that no one wanted to port from Irix to NT is now being ported to Linux with ease, and that's a huge deal.

    There aren't too many Free solutions in there, I realize, but Linux can't be everything to everyone and remain completely Free. I am sure there is a lot of GIMP action going on there but not many programs in the Free world are powerful enough to help out the big studios.

    I hope that clears some stuff up!
  • Re:Great! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MikeTheYak (123496) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:59AM (#2132852)
    Radiance [lbl.gov] comes immediately to mind for open source. Not-so-open source programs like Blender [blender.nl] and BMRT [exluna.com] are also good.
  • by yorgasor (109984) <ronNO@SPAMtritechs.net> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:57PM (#2133966) Homepage
    There are mainstream efforts to create Linux DVD players by companies who have licensed the format.

    Oh, you mean companies like this [intervideo.com]? I hate to tell you this, but that page has only had cosmetic changes since last October. I watched it religiously, holding off on getting a dvd drive for my computer until one came out.

    After a several months, I got tired of waiting. I found a couple "unlicensed" players that worked good enough. Now there are almost a dozen that work just fine. The legal ones missed the boat, and now they'll have to compete with free ones.

    I hate to tell you, but I don't think we'll see any legal ones coming out for a _long_ time.

  • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption.kuruption@net> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:39AM (#2134277) Homepage
    Wonder how SGI feels about that.

    SGI was the first major company to offer Linux with their systems. Also, I heard from a co-worker that SGI is working on an Itanium-based cluster (64x64)... probably for a redering farm. I don't have any URLs for this, however.

    I think if IBM plans to "penetrate" the rendering market, they will have to compete with SGI still. Not because of the O/S (since they will both run Linux), but the fact that SGI has always had superior I/O and bus speeds compared to most other machines. The first x86-based SGI machines used Intel Xeon processors, but they redesigned the I/O. They were able to get a 50% performance increase from the system by tweaking the I/O.

  • by WombatControl (74685) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:30PM (#2135148)

    Already Alias|Wavefront has ported Maya (their flagship 3D software and the most commonly used package for movie animation) to Linux. The Pixar Renderman rendering engine is already ported to Linux. Basically, everything a studio would need is already ported to Linux. Softimage also has ported their software to Linux as well.

    In other words, IBM is *way* behind the curve on this... Linux is already an integral part of 3D animation, and with the release of Maya 4 and it's Linux port, this trend is definately going to continue. Using off-the-shelf, inexpensive hardware for both workstations and render farms makes a lot of sense, and Linux is perfect as an extensible UNIX-based OS for animation purposes.

  • by sp0rch (470244) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:28AM (#2135752)
    DreamWorks Features Linux and Animation [linuxjournal.com] /me wants one of those renderfarms (try and keep up with my seti packets :) )
  • by donglekey (124433) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:43PM (#2137276) Homepage
    This is false. Renderman is a specification, and not a program. You are probably referring to Photorealistic Renderman by Pixar. Renderman the specification is made up of a scene description language (ASCII and bytecode) and a shanding language that is written and compiled. Perl had barely been invented when the renderman specification was created. Renderman does not use Perl or Python, and I have never heard of PRman using Perl or Python.
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @02:23PM (#2138797) Homepage
    Oh, whoops! I typed before I thought. Mea Culpa.
    I meant modules [cpan.org]. I get giddy hard nips to plug my two favortie free languages. So sorry.
  • Re:Great! (Score:2, Informative)

    by B1 (86803) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:28AM (#2139581)
    Take a look at Blender [blender.nl].
  • Just check this link [wired.com].
  • by MrEntropy (75478) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:54AM (#2140297)
    I work in the FX industry and previously worked at SGI. IBM is correct, we are moving towards Linux. Partially because it is open source, perhaps more because it is Unix like and doesn't require a big workflow change. Mostly however, because it is cheap. FX is a little to no margin cutthroat business. If any of us makes a 5% profit, it's been a pretty good day. Commodity hardware like Intel platforms will help keep costs down, but they typically won't be name brand machines. They will be build it yourself, pick your graphics card and keep it cheap type machines. I have seen some major companies use HP, as they were one of the first to have support for Linux and partnered with Side Effects Software. However, there is no loyalty and I'm sure that those companies on the next round of buying will be purchasing generics. It has to be, economics dictates it.

    As far as SGI, I don't think any in the big FX houses will ever take them seriously again after the 320/540 Visual Workstation debacle. It is hard to say if they will be supporting the product you just bought in six months because they change their business model so often.

    Entropy Rules

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