The unique relationship between Hollywood Movies and Linux

October 11, 2006
Quite often, we speculate about Linux grabbing a major share of the desktop PC market. But it seems the film industry are heavy users of Linux, and applications that run on Linux which include both open source and closed source custom made software. Take the popular hollywood movie 'Scooby Doo' for instance. It was created at Rhythm and Hues studio and the whole movie was rendered and touched up using custom made software which ran on Linux.

And the fact that Linux played a part in the making of this movie is not an accident. Rather, it is more becoming the norm. If you do a search on the net, you will find many more hollywood movies which are made using applications which run on Linux.


Robin Rowe, a writer and software designer working at Hollywood has put together a collection of software - both open source and proprietary - which is being used by various movie studios to touch up the movies. Robin is also the lead developer of the free software project CinePaint (formerly known as Film Gimp) which - quoting from the site - is a collection of free open source software tools for deep paint manipulation and image processing. CinePaint is used for motion picture frame-by-frame retouching, dirt removal, wire rig removal, render repair, background plates, and 3d model textures. It's been used on many feature films, including The Last Samurai where it was used to add flying arrows. It's also being used by pro photographers who need greater color fidelity than is available in other tools.

8 comments:

  • They should use Apple computers. Apple's are faster, more secure, and better for just about everything (including editing media) than Linux. Plus Apple supports a huge ecosystem of programmers and products that contribute to our economy, rather than helping ship them overseas as IBM and HP do with Linux.

  • Actually, open source software has a number of advantages that Apple and companies that develop software for Apple couldn't or wouldn't address.

    For example, The Gimp was used as the basis for CinePaint because the movie industry wanted to be able to edit in 32bit per channel of color (instead of the 16bit that's typical of software these days) and by using The Gimp, they could make the changes they needed for this support themselves, rather than waiting for Adobe to get around to it.

  • Apple is too closed to be usable, with it you can do what apple and software houses want to. With linux you have endless possibility to custom everything as you wish. Still it doesn't exclude proprietary software

  • man, they know it better... right? better than you... They know what they are doing that's why they are using linux.

  • Let's pick apart this astroturfer:

    Apple's are faster
    um, not that I could find.
    sek.berkeley.edu
    Anandtech

    It's not the hardware. Its the Mach micro-kernel, from what I've been able to glean. On the same hardware, Linux wins. The micro-kernel architecture means lots of modules loading for things that could be compiled into the kernel for dedicated machines. Linux, since Titanic, has been used in many render farms, and the kernel can compile in modules as needed for optimization. Apple only recently opened their source for OSX on Intel after a six month hiatus. Even DreamWorks used it in many of its blockbusters until Jobs made a religious decision to force them to OSX only. I guess they don't have to worry about Apple closing the source again.

    And don't forget, from the kernel the the html rendering engine have been poached from other open source projects.

    more secure
    Arguable. Yes, some BSD variants have better security records than Linux. But if you are building a render farm, are you going to hook it to the internet?

    and better for just about everything [...] than Linux
    Unless you care about speed. And the huge ecosystem surrounding movie rendering on Linux.

    Plus Apple supports a huge ecosystem of programmers and products that contribute to our economy [...]
    Unlike Yahoo, Google, and hundreds of other established and up-and-coming companies that employ programmers in the US to use Linux. Where, exactly, oh enlightened punter, is Apple hardware manufactured? Where was the circuitry for the iPod developed?

    Please don't troll without some facts. All I've mentioned above are easily verifiable with the Linux-(under?)powered clusters from the likes of Google or Yahoo or Wikipedia.

    Peace, out.

  • It is also the case of this French SFX company Buf, www.buf.fr
    All the software is home made and all the company's computers run a GNU/Linux OS.

  • Josh

    So, Hollywood uses Linux and all it's resources to make their movies, and then locks up the finished product with DRM so it's technically illegal to watch the films on Linux? What is up with that?

  • @Anonymous: "They should use Apple computers. Apple's are faster, more secure, and better for just about everything (including editing media) than Linux"

    Apple's are slower, not more secure and certainly not better for just about everything (including editing media) than Linux. And don't start talking about prices, source code availability (needed for customizations that movie studios like to do), licensing issues, and other minusses.

    @josh,
    Usually the publishers, not the producers, are enforcing DRM on movies. But still...