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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)."

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