Linux Journal: DreamWorks Feature Linux and Animation
Jul 14, 2001, 15:00 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robin Rowe)
It's been a good summer for Linux at the movies
(Evolution, Final Fantasy, and Shrek)
and this article goes behind the scenes at Dreamworks to examine
how Linux fits into an animation production environment:
"...Some wonder how Linux will dislodge Windows on the
desktop because leading desktop applications such as Microsoft
Office (Word, Excel and Access) aren't there. But, if you are a
motion picture animator most of your everyday tools are already
available on Linux, and the number being ported or even produced
specifically for Linux is increasing at a remarkable rate.
DreamWorks has followed three paths to Linux: new development,
porting and third-party-vendor porting. Head of technology Ed
Leonard says, ``To dramatically reduce costs was one of the big
motivating factors in moving animators to Linux. But, it is our
animators' productivity that really counts. Telling the story well,
not the underlying technology, is what matters to us.'' Using Linux
saves time for the animators because Linux PC performance is so
much faster than the five-year-old computers being replaced, even
though those SGI IRIX workstations were awesome machines. Leonard
adds, ``Microsoft software continues to play a key role in our
overall business, but Linux is particularly well suited to
animation production pipelines.''
An animator's desktop is not the same machine that an executive
or secretary would have. The animator needs a high-performance
workstation with a dual-head, high-performance graphics system and
specialized software for motion picture production. To typical
computer users, the animator's software tools may be unfamiliar.
Let's walk through the DreamWorks production cycle and see how
Linux is used (see Table 1)."