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Linux goes to Hollywood 313

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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  • Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @02:07PM (#2110979) Homepage
    Of course you want to run a free OS on a render farm. The OS doesn't do much on a render farm. You have one app in there, crunching away. It needs network and file access. That's it. Just about any OS will work. So people use the cheapest one. That's to be expected.
  • by tyrann98 ( 161653 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:38AM (#2111269)
    Render farms just crunch numbers and that is where Linux is succeeding. Linux on x86 (AMD or Intel) is displacing SGI not based on qualities of the Linux OS necessarily, but due to the low cost of x86 hardware, high quality compilers and free OS last. I'm sure NetBSD would be just as good is this application. Linux could even be replaced by commercial render-farm operations that run on purpose-built hardware.

    SGI effectively gives away their OS and you have to pay incredible prices for their hardware. For certain applications where real-time 3D performance or high-bandwidth memory applications is required, SGI and Sun still has the tools to beat the x86 platform any day. Real workstations still have many advantages over the best PC motherboards. But all of additional cost for SGI hardware is a waste if you are just number crunching.

    However, the news that IBM and Alias are developing content-creation software for Linux is a very good sign. These are the tools that every artist would be using to push pixels, and that's the way to get a huge foothold in the Hollywood. That moves Linux for the room in the back to the desktop of each artist.

    • Linux could even be replaced by commercial render-farm operations that run on purpose-built hardware.

      Except that purpose built hardware is likely to turn out more expensive, using commodity hardware means you benefit from economys of scale in manufacturing. (As well as active competition with manufacturers.)
  • Hollywood turns to Linux, Linux can't turn away

    How could a sane person say that Linux will eat your Intellectual Property, when the biggest (and most hypocritcal) IP holders in the world are flocking to it. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

    Film at 11
    Mundie and the blundering pundits.
    Technicolor rendered by Linux...

  • Cheap hardware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mfarver ( 43681 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:37AM (#2119375) Journal

    At this point studios want CPU cycles cheap, and they are already comfortable writing toolchains on Unix.

    Linux combines the best of both worlds, cheap fast PC hardware and Unix. One studio said they could afford to replace their Linux cluster twice as often as the SGI renderfarm (since it cost half as much) so they could keep themselves closer to the state of the art in processing power.

    SGI used to offer awesome custom graphics acceleration hardware but custom hardware limits choice, and costs more than general purpose stuff. And the general purpose stuff is nearly as fast.

    • Umm... SGI *still* offers graphics acceleration that will blow away any general purpose card you can get off the street for building 3d animation.

      Linux is only being used for rendering, they don't even have to have a graphics card, all they are doing is calculate pixel, color and write it out to a file, no-one ever has to look at the images as they are being created.

      If you ever look at a studio, you'll see SGI workstations everywhere, and lots and lots of rendering systems, that most likely have no monitor at all, and a very low-end graphics card if any. Most of the time you'll have to pry a SGI Irix workstation out of the cold dead hand of an animator, since nobody else has anything that will come close for animation development.
      • SGI *still* offers graphics acceleration that will blow away any general purpose card you can get off the street for building 3d animation.

        Is the animation it produces a high enough resolution for 35mm film? Remember that it dosn't even have to put out frames in real time anyway...
        Most likely these workstations are being used for creating rough previews, rather than the finished product.
        • Sorry, but it seems that you are a bit confused on animation development. If you get passed some of the low end graphic cards hype you'll see that what they are good at (extremely fast fill rates) doesn't matter at all when doing development of animation. Being able to have lots of polygons on the screen and doing rotations, transformations, etc. is what matters. You are constantly rotating things around, etc. which really doesn't care about fill rates, but pushing those polys are what matters for creating the images (that is why the port Quake for Irix really sucks, they don't care about fill, just moving thousands of polys at the same time).
  • 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.
    • by room101 ( 236520 )
      That is because IBM doesn't do anything until it has a solid business case. They didn't get involved in Linux until it becase viable for business and there was a proven track record.

      IBM doesn't do anything "half-assed". They try very hard not to waste their money, and sometimes that means that they wait until others have blazed the trail before they follow it.
  • by Eslyjah ( 245320 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:38AM (#2119377)
    Hopefully, Hollywood will be willing to put some time and money into developing Linux. In the longer term, this would mean that we, the "regular users" of Linux would benefit from better graphics capabilities of the OS as a whole. Maybe this is overly optimistic, but you never know...
  • Linux Goes to Hollywood: Send in the Clones


  • For any more big-name roles. I mean... Look at Linux's performance in 'Anti-trust'. It was pretty dissapointing. Let's all chip in and get Linux some good voice coaching and poise training and see if its not ready for another starring role later this year.
  • Go to SGI's web page.....they're pushing linux on Intel based servers for rendering. HP is saying it, AMD is saying it, how is this news?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We hate it!


  • What does that mean, they "will be"? FX houses have already had Linux machines in their render farms for years now, starting with Titanic in 1997 [linuxjournal.com] and continuing right up until Final Fantasy.

    Why are they acting like this is something new?

  • 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!
    • "can't be everything to everyone and remain completely Free"...

      I don't know that I agree with that, since the nature of Open Source is such that it can become whatever it needs to without having to fight over the issue. But...

      Rendering on Linux seems just to be common sense from a cost standpoint. How much does an SGI cluster cost these days? I don't know. But I do know that a 128-node render farm made of second-hand Pentium II systems will probably run about

      128 P2s at $200 each...
      Sufficient network switches for the job, maybe 6 24-port units, call it...
      $2000 or so
      9 Shelving units, at $40/shelf to hold, say, fifteen CPUs each...
      free copy of Red Hat 7.1 copied off a junior techie's home system...
      Priceless (er, free) :-)

      The numbers work out much better that way, even if you're using current equipment instead of the cheezy second-hand P2s I figured on above.

    • Somethings you are correct, but on some key things you are very wrong

      SGI had very few Linux workstations and for a longer period of time have had their 1450, 1200, 1100, etc. line which are server only.

      Irix is licensed with the hardware so if you own the hardware you can run Irix. Even with Linux you are still paying the $200,000 for licenses, only you are paying for the application (Maya, Softimage, etc.) which for the most part are completely not transferable (that has caused so many headaches for people, sell their computer but can't transfer their application license to the other person).

      I've not known too many places that are using *only* SGI's for rendering, often they run it on every single machine they can get their hands on at night (cron process or whatever kicks off at 8 pm for all their workstations, a Sun server, couple of Linux & NT systems and have them render all night long).

      Linux on commodity hardware is not going to be replacing development in many major studios anytime soon. The top of the line Geforce3 will smoke a Irix system running Quake (which they do have ported), but you'll have to shoot most people to get them to give up their SGI workstations since none of the PC graphics cards are any good at really anything but fill rates. Try and transorm, or do rotations on anything with any good number of polygons, any SGI Irix workstation that has came out within the past 5 years ago will go head to head with the latest commodity graphics cards today. That is what matters, to the graphic developers they doing transforming, rotating them around, etc. and nobody really is doing that well yet. I guess what I'm saying is, you won't be seeing people throwing out their Octane's anytime soon to put in a Geforce card to get faster development.

      I will say this though, Nvidia has gotten alot better lately... simply because they licensed the tech from SGI :)
  • by willy_me ( 212994 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:48AM (#2128989)
    Apple will also be pushing into this realm very soon - they've already, with 1394 and iMovie, have pushed themselves into the home consumer market. Once OSX matures, they should finally have a great OS to market. Combine this with the fact that the 64bit G5 is due out early next year and that Steve Jobs runs both Apple and Pixar...... See the potential?

    The real problem is of course that Apple doesn't have any hardware that's up to the challenge. They need some good rack-mount servers similar to those that IBM sell. Rumors [thinksecret.com] of these servers exist and should they be true, Apple will finally have what it needs to become a player in this industry.

    There are still lots of "if"s but regardless, I'd like to see SGI, IBM, and Apple all fighing for this market. It should produce some great products...


    • 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 ...)

  • Title (Score:5, Funny)

    by DigitalDragon ( 194314 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:21AM (#2130657)
    Hmm.. Somehow I always knew that this title would appear on /., it was just a matter of time. Next one to wait for: "Linux does Dallas".
  • Linux already there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boboroshi ( 239125 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:56AM (#2131248) Homepage
    At least in the 3d (renderfarms) and compositing (e.g. Shake [nothingreal.com]) world it's been there a while

    Pixar's Renderman runs on Linux, and due to the wonderfully low cost of Linux and the cheap method of build your own machine, renderfarms in racks tend to run linux at many post houses.

    Also, Square has entered the arena with one amazing ray tracer. For the white paper inclined, this is pretty sweet. It explains Maya and how it works with their custom app on Linux using Parallel proessing via the Pthread library.

    http://www.squareusa.com/kilauea/ [httpp]

  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:25AM (#2131855) Homepage
    Okay lighten up.

    It's time for Slashdot to have a laugh at its own expense. [ridiculopathy.com]

  • by tolldog ( 1571 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:25AM (#2131856) Homepage Journal
    I think SGI likes it.
    SGI sells linux boxes that can work as a renderfarm just as much as any other rackmount linux solution.
    But this is where they should really like it. Hollywood has trusted SGI for years. SGI has major name recognition based on hardware quality and support.
    Linux has been in Hollywood for a while now, chances are that the 3D that you see in current titles has had some Linux involvement along the way.
    I know we are heading that direction.
    All the studios I have talked with are heading that way, if they haven't all ready.
    In my opinion, this is a place where VA could have made a name for themselves. Now, I think that the big Linux battle will be between HP, SGI, and the next person to have a killer 3D desktop. If I had to place money on it, I would be pulling for HP.

  • by 4n0nym0u$ C0w4rd ( 471100 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:36AM (#2132034)
    Hopefully it won't end up like 90% of the people who go down that road, drugged-out, bimbo starlet doing softcore porn (and the director) to support it's escalating Coke addiction :)

    Who wants to bet they'll still manage to put out multi-billion dollar "master pieces"....generally with nice fancy roman numerals next to the title to exploit the success of a previous successful movie (Jurassic Park II or III), or based on a video game that never really had much of a plot (Streetfighter).
  • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by isa-kuruption ( 317695 ) <.kuruption. .at. .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.

  • SGI will be fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xwred1 ( 207269 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:27AM (#2135845) Homepage
    There's a guy that goes to my LUG who works for SGI, some sort of promotional manager or something.

    He told us SGI is very dedicated to Linux because it provides a standardized OS across platforms, which is what alot of their customers have wanted over the years.

    Its also supposed to play into their Intel strategy, because as a customer grows, and moves up SGIs product line, they pretty much just need to recompile their apps to have them run on the faster hardware.

    I suspect that Sgi will like having the rendering move onto Linux, although they may dislike having Sgi boxes replaced by IBM boxes.
  • http://movieweb.com/movie/toystory2/co9.jpg
  • by Sara Chan ( 138144 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @01:47PM (#2138796)
    There's another big advantage of working with IBM. That is an easy transition to Linux-on-the-mainframe. Having a rendering farm containing 1000 PCs is not the best idea. There are problems with reliability. Once you have that many PCs in the farm, you are better off replacing them all with a single mainframe. Each copy of Linux then runs as a virtual OS (under VM): see the recent Slashdot story [slashdot.org] for other examples and here [ibm.com] for technical details.

    This is clearly IBMs strategy. They will make a lot of money from it. Such installations are very good for customers too: customers save energy, floor space, and staff--and, best of all, get mainframe-level reliability.

  • DVD support (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:32AM (#2138845)
    If the hollywood studios use the dvd's in their linux rendering boxes to view their latest CG work, will they have start writing themselves threatening e-mails?
    • by bfree ( 113420 )
      Recently someone suggested altering the licensing on a lot of Free/free/open software to preclude the MPAA, RIAA, MS et al from using the software for any reason. Perhaps this is the stick we need to beat the DVD rap with

      Pixar Exec "What does this licensce mean then?"
      GNU/OS Author "You can use it when I like you again, and until then Bollywood is going to kick your ass :-)"
      • Recently someone suggested altering the licensing on a lot of Free/free/open software to preclude the MPAA, RIAA, MS et al from using the software for any reason. Perhaps this is the stick we need to beat the DVD rap with

        It would never work. All they need is for someone to report that it is illegal, and they have eveyr right to investigate and see if it is violating their patent/copyright/patent/whatever. Hell, if that worked, no BBSes would have been busted in the 80's, because they all had the "YOu may not use this BBS if you are a law enforcement officer" crap.

        • You miss the point! It is not about the legality or illegality of the software, it is about whether or not we "allow" them to use the software (say Linux, Bind, sendmail, XFree86, apache which are all very legal AFAIK). The fact they might still have issue with some software that they are also not "allowed" use (e.g. ac3dec) is seperate to the licencing but the reason for it. Bottom line the post is a joke but one we should all remember for when we next meet a MPAA/RIAA/Dolby etc. bean pusher. What we would be asking them to do is to ignore the patent/copyright/whatever issue in return for us "letting" them use our software :-)
      • Re:DVD support (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:43PM (#2140021) Homepage
        This "cure" is FAR worse than the disease. :( When this kind of attitude takes over we will then truly be in tech. hell.
        • When I said the stick to beat them with I really meant that we should put the threat on the table as how the game could be played. If we are talking to anyone with a millionth of a brain they will know that this is entirely contrary to "our" principles, however same said people will also realise that they are hypocritical to make billions per annum off the back of Free software while denying it's application for harmless purposes. The people making the decisions at present on the software they use are not the people who decide to tell FreeBSD to stop linking to ac3dec (to take a recent example). We need to ensure that the people who want to take advantage of our software start kicking the sh*t out of the bean pushers and managers who want to screw us back.
      • http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines

        * No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

        The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

        * No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

        The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

        Just an FYI, but it would just get really nasty if a lot of people started putting exclusion clauses, etc. in their licenses.

        • Well if you read my response to the other response to my response :-) Really it is a joke, but so are software patents! It mightn't be a stupid idea to throw these stupid threats around a bit more though to show that we are NOT MAD ZEALOTS and to point out to some bean counters that we help them so why don't they stop hindering us!

          I can't really see the whole of Debian moving to non-free no matter how insidious things become, but we gotta make sure they realise that this is not because we are in a position of weakness, it is because we are honorable. Let's make them admit their a pack of assh*les.

  • by Raptor CK ( 10482 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:33AM (#2138987) Journal
    As the article says, and we should all remember, SGI's also selling Linux boxes now.

    It's easier to go with something that's being worked on by the Open Source community, since you can be pretty sure that any Open project with sufficient momentum will get the major kinks out over time. Besides, it's easier for SGI than to keep on supporting IRIX, which has had its own fair share of disaster stories.

    It's going to go back to a hardware battle, and this is where IBM may not be ready to compete. Using Linux is nice, but what about render times? What about the overall architecture? Are these IBM boxes going to beat out SGI in price and performance?

    If so, then SGI should worry. Linux has nothing to do with it.
    • SGI probably feels a lot better than fine considering they have been working and porting on Linux for years. What is the alternative, watch everyone move to Windows (I can see them forking out $200,000 for Win 200 licences for their 1024 PC render farm). SGI stated a long time ago that they liked Linux and that they were going to work with it. I think SGI and IBM are in competition here alright, but never forget that while IBM will provide lots of hardware, SGI has the high-end software expertise that Hollywood needs so they will be secure for a long while to come. I imagine you could see design houses with SGI workstations, IBM fileservers and a large cluster of commodity machines to do the dog work. This is roughly what happened (can't remember who provided the fileservers though) for Final Fantasy. IBM and SGI are targeting slightly different markets here still and I am fairly confident they will work extremely hard to ensure cross-compatability (where feasible) because they both want this market and would much rather share with each other than see themselves swamped if MS ever got a foothold.
  • News? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jfedor ( 27894 ) <jfedor@jfedor.org> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:28AM (#2139580) Homepage
    AFAIK, both Titanic and Shrek were rendered on Linux. (They were using Alphas in Digital Domain and Intels at PDI to do it.)

    Furthermore, PDI is using Linux *on the desktop* since early 2001.

    • AFAIK, both Titanic and Shrek were rendered on Linux. (They were using Alphas in Digital Domain and Intels at PDI to do it.)

      Furthermore, PDI is using Linux *on the desktop* since early 2001.

      It may not have happened this week but it's certainly worth pointing out to people. Especially the desktop use that Linux is getting. Here are a few other earlier articles:

      From LWN [lwn.net] on HP's focus on the digital content creation market,
      A ZDNet article [zdnet.com] (originally from the Wall Street Journal) about ILM and Pixar's migrations to Linux. Apparently Pixar were in the middle of a migration from an SGI setup to WinNT when they decided Linux was a better choice.

  • In an article ZDNet entitled Linux takes Hollywood by storm [zdnet.com], it is reported this past May 17, that credit for the success of the summer box-office hit Shrek, was in a large part to the animators' use of the free Linux operating system instead of software from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Silicon Graphics Inc.
  • Many of the earlier graphics houses made a huge mistake: they bought whole render farms of SGI equipment, figuring, that's the best at graphics, so it's okay to pay double or triple for each box.

    The distinction is, there's rendering, and then there's modeling. SGIs are (were) a great value for modeling, but a lousy value for the actual brute-force rendering work.

    Yes, an SGI had a large advantage in the modeling department, because it could let an artist manipulate fairly complex meshes in real-time and get fast proof shots.

    But SGI had *no* advantage, and sometimes a disadvantage, at the actual renderfarm work. The machines that did Jurassic Park I were just single-processor 150MHz MIPS R4400 boxes with a nice data bus. The software that did Jurassic Park were not taking *any* advantage of the 24 pipelined matrix multipliers, clippers, texturing rasterizers or other custom hardware. They were using the vanilla Unix works, just like any raytracer or renderman app. A few well-tuned Sparcs or an AS/400 could have done the same work.

    SGI changed their logo and ther company name. It's no longer "Silicon Graphics, Inc.", it's just SGI. The logo isn't Scott Kim's famous paperclip cube [scottkim.com] anymore. Graphics isn't their prime corporate mission anymore. As others have pointed out, they now offer Linux-based machines, and they're still valuable to the artists.

  • Just check this link [wired.com].
  • by MrEntropy ( 75478 )
    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

  • SGI says this... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kirkb ( 158552 )
    IRIX is the most scalable, feature-rich, high-performance OS available. For high-end scalability, big I/O performance, real-time performance, and superior graphics capabilities, IRIX is the premier choice. No OS, including Windows® 2000, Linux®, or Solaris®, is capable of matching IRIX in these respects.

    (from http://www.sgi.com/developers/feature/2001/roadmap .html)

    • Re:SGI says this... (Score:2, Informative)

      by dmelomed ( 148666 )
      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).
    • SGI says [...]

      And they're absolutely right.

      C-X C-S
  • And this is good? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @11:34AM (#2141984) Journal
    This is the same hollywood that's absolutely 100% against any mainstream efforts to allow Linux users to watch DVDs, because of an obsession with protecting the long term copyrights of movies that, normally, are profitable within two years of the scriptwriter tapping out the first line? (A profitability unheard of in virtually any other industry, where it's rare that a company is making more than it spends within 3 years of opening, and even longer to return the initial investment.)

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not in favour of copyright infringement, but the notion that it should be illegal to watch Dr Strangelove on a Linux box because movie makers are obsessed that someone might use knowledge gained from the movie playing software to make a copy of the film, is absurd in the extreme.

    I don't want to see Linux helping an industry that is so negative about open source and ideologically committed to its destruction. I don't want to see Linux helping an industry that lobbied for laws that effectively put the major art form of the 20th Century behind an electronic curtain leading to a situation where we may even lose much of what's important by the end of the 21st. An industry that has consistantly lied, even in court, about the motives of those wanting to break the encryption, and whose products appear to be increasingly designed to prevent consumers having any control or rights whatsoever of things they've paid money for.

    I can't prevent it from happening, that's what a free operating system is all about after all, but I can say that those who help Hollywood in this fight and provide open source solutions to them, are a bunch of slimeballs, and insofar as we have a community, they should be blackballed from it.

    Sorry, strongly expressed I know, but it's something I feel particularly angry about.

    • by connorbd ( 151811 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @12:37PM (#2141032) Homepage
      You have an interesting point, but you know, I think Theo De Raadt said it best regarding the licensing of OpenBSD: if you want to use it in a baby mulcher, we can't stop you anyway. Linux is not an organization; it's an operating system. The organizations involved with it are entitled to make money (if they can; they shouldn't be running to the government for help), and they're as free to do with it as they please as we are.

      The fact is that you can't say, "No, you can't use it for that" when you're dealing with a GPL product. Moreover, Linux is being used in the industry by techies, many of whom probably roughly the same attitude we do towards industry lawyers. We (who is this we, kemo sabe?) can object all we want, but the truth is that there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it, and, like it or not, that's probably the way it should be.

      And all the handwringing in the world won't change that.

      • Which is precisely why I said we can't prevent them from using Linux.

        What we can do is blackball those who'd work with Hollywood. This can be anything from removing them from mailing lists to ignoring or even hindering changes they'd want to make to applications and operating systems that are open source.

        I don't want anything to do with the bastards. I would like to see others take a similar view. Let them live off the dregs of open source, not have the world of free software revolve around them.

        • What we can do is blackball those who'd work with Hollywood. This can be anything from removing them from mailing lists to ignoring or even hindering changes they'd want to make to applications and operating systems that are open source.

          And this would help "open source" how?

          It's funny how all the linux kids want open source to have mainstream acceptance, beat MS, and "take over the world", but aren't willing to let people just use it.

          Movie studios aren't going to "live off the dregs" of open source, they'll just go with IRIX, Solaris or even Win2k.
          Sure, they'll pay marginally more, but it's not as if money is a constraint for a studio.

          C-X C-S
    • Firstly, "Hollywood", or rather the movie copyright holders are not against allowing users to watch DVDs on Linux. They are against the DVD protection being cracked. They are also against free players where they don't make any money out of the deal. They have created the format and expect to make money off any players. There are mainstream efforts to create Linux DVD players by companies who have licensed the format. Secondly, the people who hold the copyrights to those movies are NOT the same people that create the special effects. People get hired to do the special effects for films, which they do either for a flat fee or a cut of the profits or some combination thereof. They don't make any decisions about distributing the movie and leave that up to the distributors. Of course you could have learned all this if you had simply taking Thinking 101.
      • 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.

        • legal ones

          Licensed ones, you mean. Unlicensed players that were written for the purpose of interoperability with the format and by way of reverse engineering are just as legal as the licensed players. Calling the licensed players "legal players" implies otherwise.

          Other than that one nit, I agree completely, the market for licensed players on Linux no longer exists.
          • This is wrong on two counts. The first is that the DMCA outlaws unauthorised attempts to bypass copy prevention mechanisms, regardless of intent of use. The second is that, and at this point I admit it's civil law territory, unlicensed players are violating several patents which are necessary to licence in order to offer access.

            Otherwise we would see APEX, a long time staunch opponent of the way DVDs are being handled, and others churning out DVD players based on the now publically available CSS specs.

            All of this applies to US law of course, but as we've seen with Johanssen being extradited, and the arrest of Dimtry, jurisdiction of this law agreed to by the representatives of the American people and consented to by no others, seems to be global.

      • There are mainstream efforts to create Linux DVD players by companies who have licensed the format.
        Using what definition of "mainstream"? I was extremely deliberate in using the term. Producing closed source, pay-per-copy/pay-per-use software under Linux, is hardly "mainstream" in the Linux software world. And it's especially not "mainstream" to produce software for Linux that is not only both closed source and payware, but is intended solely for use on custom devices, rather than generic PCs.

        I am not aware of anyone producing a licenced DVD player for Linux that is open source, that is free, or for general PCs. All the efforts to produce open source DVD players for Linux are unlicenced, and it's been made pretty clear (such as by actually having Johanssen extradited to the USA, and by Valenti lying in a submission to Kaplan's already biased court, about the nature of the open source movement) that Hollywood is 100% opposed to such developments.

        Secondly, the people who hold the copyrights to those movies are NOT the same people that create the special effects. People get hired to do the special effects for films, which they do either for a flat fee or a cut of the profits or some combination thereof. They don't make any decisions about distributing the movie and leave that up to the distributors.
        Of course they're the same entity! Arguing that one group is nothing to do with the other because the only relationship they have is that one pays the other, tells the other what to do, and owns the results, is an absurd argument. This is a straight employer/employee relationship, and the people who own the copyrights and fund open source bashing lawyering are the people benefiting from open source, just as my employer benefits from web technology even though he never touches the stuff and it is merely me, a humble employee, who puts his web applications together that he can sell to other people.
    • There isn't just one Hollywood when making movies, its a beast with many heads. Legal is doing its best to protect the nice DVD niche they've created and the filmmakers themselves will get away with whatever they want be it IRIX, Linux, hand-drawn, etc.

      I'd rather see a hypocritical industry without an anti-linux (or anti-anything for that matter) party-line to follow. These are two completely seperate issues, if you don't want to support MPAA then don't spend cash on their movies, what tools they end up using is really of no consequence if you're already boycotting them.
  • Its good to see big business start to recognize the power of open source. No when will i get to see some big name open source 3d rendering apps?
    • Re:Great! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 )
      Try Blender [blender.nl]. It's a very good and very powerful 3D modeler and rendering tool. You might also want to take a look at BMRT [exluna.com]. It is a very good rendering tool/ray tracer. You've probably seen it's work in A Bug's Life, Stuart Little, and Hollow Man [exluna.com].

      There's probably other modelers and user interfaces from BMRT and POVRay. They may not be what George Lucas uses but they aren't shabby. I've seen some amazing stuff done in Blender and it is FREE.

    • What I'd like to see is the base 3d animation packages open sourced or under $500 and then you buy the fancy effect plug-ins or use open source ones. This would be like the IBM PC but for 3d. Hey that rymes. :)
      It would allow a base package everyone can mess with and get going on but those special effects that are cutting edge can make the creators money until the freeware guys say, "hey that's cool, I'm going to do that". It would be time for new effects anyway so as the sales slow for plug-in 3dX, there would be new effect 3dY. Innovation, rewards, and growth....

      As you can tell, I'm torn between everything being free and someone being paid for innovative work. Anyway, this is great news indeed.

  • ...comes from buying a whole slew of cheap machines, throwing Linux on them and BMRT, then using them as the render farm.

    But what's most of the modeling being done on? That's what I want to know. Probably either SGI workstations or NT/2K...
  • by _Mustang ( 96904 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @06:17PM (#2157796)
    ``The idea that Linux is open source is very attractive to people in Hollywood, because they're so technically astute,'' said SGI's Greg Estes.

    Is this guy sucking up or what? Astute? HTF can they be *so technically astute* when they can't grasp the simple concept that Linux users just want to be able to access their own PAID FOR media??
    But wait - it gets even better..

    ``I've been told by senior executives at virtually every one of the major studios that this transformation will happen,'' IBM's Canepa said. ``They will retool their content creation onto an open platform, and they will adopt Linux.''

    Retool onto an open platform? Hmm, sounds like just a lot of BS to me. On the other hand, maybe this is the turning point where those sob's at the RIAA/MPAA/whatever come to realize that Linux is no different from Windows in that it's a tool for an end. And in the case of Linux, the tool belongs to EVERYONE not just those willing to bend over for MS.. Maybe there is some promise here after all...Once Linux is in use by techs AND the content people, how much longer could it be before it's the corporate platform waving Windows out the door? At that point it's doubtfull that any Exec could deny the need for fully supporting Linux users.
    • What does this have to do with 'accessing paid-for media on Linux'??

      Your first point is totally redundant.

      MPEG-2, CD and other consumer format playback is no problem under Linux.

      In case you have been living under a rock, you CAN play encrypted DVDs under Linux, with hardware acceleration (Creative DXR3/Hollywood+) and without (Xine and others). This is a non-issue. DeCSS is out there, and it's as simple as dropping a deCSSing or CSS-bypassing plugin into your DVD player's plugin folder.

      The legality of this is questionable in some countries, chiefly the U.S.A, but thats an issue for you to take up with your government, not Hollywood FX studios.

      Hollywood FX studios use Linux because it's a cheap UNIX-like platform, which many people have skills with.

      Until now, there hasn't been a cheap UNIX with Linux's capabilities.

      Now Linux is here, it makes sense to use it because it is an excellent tool for the job these people want to perform.

      This of course means they will retool those parts of their workflow that can take advantge of Linux's strengths..
      How can you say this is 'BS'??

      Hollywood FX studios are also completely different from the companies that actually produce, market and distribute movies, and none of the FX studios have anything to do with the decision whether or not to encrypt the final product, or which formats it will/will not be available in.

      And since Windows isn't particularly popular in Hollywood digital content creation, your second point is irrelevant. Linux will not displace Windows in the corporate market because Hollywood FX studios use it.

      Just look at IRIX's giant desktop market-share. It is, in many respects, a far better OS than Linux is, it is widely used by techs and in Hollywood, but nobody does their word-processing on it.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.