Linux Engine Drives Pixars Cars

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-06-22 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pixar Animation Studios meets the challenges of new high-quality animation with proprietary software packages running on Linux. (Linux-Watch)

Ever wonder how Lightning McQueen and friends looked so good in the movie Cars? A lot of that spit and polish came from Pixar Animation Studios Linux workstations and servers. Even on high-end Linux systems, though, each frame of the animated movie took about 8 hours to render. Are the visual demands of gaming software pushing forward a technological revolution? Read more here.
Much of that CPU time was consumed by ray tracing.
Ray tracing models lights path in a frame, so that it looks like youre seeing a real object lit up by the appropriate light sources. That doesnt sound too hard. Pixar has been doing that basic kind of thing since its early hopping lamp short films. Googles "Picasa" photography program for Linux arrives. Click here to read more. Whats new about Cars is the level of lighting and color detail that Pixar brought to its four-wheeled cast. Earlier films, such as The Incredibles, took only a fraction of the time to render even though they were produced with older technology.
To do this, Pixar used three of its own proprietary software packages, which run on Linux. These are: Marionette, an animation software system for articulating, animating and lighting; Ringmaster, a production management software system for scheduling, coordinating and tracking a computer animation project; and RenderMan, a rendering software system for producing high-quality photorealistic images. RenderMan, the most well-known of these programs, is also a standard interface for modeling programs and rendering programs capable of producing photorealistic quality images. Read the full story on Linux-Watch: The Linux Engine in Cars Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
 
 
 
 
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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