Page Two

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-01 Print this article Print

Ed Leonard, chief technical officer for DreamWorks SKG, told eWEEK that the DreamWorks work flow process has two components: the interactive workstation used by an artist for lighting, animation and rendering, which is then submitted to a render farm batch process that takes it from low resolution to high resolution or across multiple frames. The company decided in 1999 that it wanted to become the first studio to embrace a total Linux desktop company as commodity processors were becoming fast enough. Until then, it had been relying on SGI technology as well as several million lines of proprietary code used in custom tools and the pipeline it used to make these movies.
"The biggest challenge was how we got this code over onto an Intel or commodity-based platform. As we were using Irix, it was a far easier transition and migration path to Linux than it would have been to Windows, which we do use for our IT and business automation pieces," Leonard said. "At the same time HP was embracing Linux and had a whole bunch of product plans, so we did an evaluation study and decided this was what we wanted to do. But both HP and we had to invent the many pieces that were missing to make it work on the desktop."
HPs graphics team in Fort Collins, Colo., which had already built its own layers of Xserver and graphics drivers, worked with DreamWorks on these pieces to create the new platform that the company uses today. There was also a huge cost savings involved in moving to a more commodity-based platform from a specialized one, Leonard said. The collaboration between HP and DreamWorks on "Sinbad" builds on a three-year, multimillion-dollar technology strategic alliance aimed at revolutionizing animation production using Linux. In her keynote address at the January 2001 LinuxWorld conference, HP CEO and Chairman Carly Fiorina said the company would provide computing infrastructure for DreamWorks next-generation digital studio, making it possible to create computer-generated animation more quickly and cost-effectively and with greater artistic quality than ever before.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel