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O'Reilly.net: Python Helps Disney Write a New Script

Mar 03, 2001, 19:00 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ed Stephenson)

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"While digital motion pictures such as Dinosaur may have captured the public's imagination, much of the work from Walt Disney Feature Animation (known as "WDFA") continues a tradition that began with Snow White in 1937. Hundreds of artists still spend up to five years creating hundreds of thousands of hand-drawn images for full-length features. What has changed--and continues to evolve--is the computerized production process, and in that realm WDFA is breaking ground with Python in a bold new application."

"WDFA is a heavy Perl shop, but some shortcomings with Perl led the software group to investigate other scripting alternatives for the company's new software project. Brent Burley, one of WDFA's senior development software engineers, not only found Python simple and consistent by comparison, but Python's object-oriented nature held a distinct advantage over Perl. "In the months since I first evaluated Python," he remarks, "I've had no stability problems and the language and API always seem to do what I expect."

"Computers have been a part of Disney animation since Tron in 1982 and The Black Cauldron in 1985. Today, it's an extremely busy operation stocked with workstations running SGI IRIX, Sun Solaris, Linux, Windows NT, and Mac OS. "And we're constantly evaluating additional platforms," notes Burley. He and a staff of more than 80 engineers in WDFA's software group create 2-D and 3-D animation tools for use on multiple productions, as well as production-specific software for features such as Tarzan and the latest Disney offering, The Emperor's New Groove. A new feature, Atlantis, is scheduled for release in June 2001."

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