Video, Graphics and GNU/Linux

On my blog a lot of commentators who are fans of M$ begin to harp about how that other OS has huge advantages in choices of applications, graphics and in particular video editing, whenever they are losing an argument.

I don’t do a lot of video but those who do often use GNU/Linux. From the links provided by a reader, it seems the history stems from use of UNIX operating systems, and graphics on UNIX workstations. It was natural and easier to switch from high-cost hardware and software to GNU/Linux on commodity hardware.

So, the naysayers are “out to lunch”. Their pet “video editing” section is dominated by GNU/Linux:

  • Linux in Hollywood
    “Linux made Yoda a lightsaber-wielding action figure. In Lord of the Rings 2, waves of Orcs attacking the colossal fortress at Helm’s Deep are not thousandsof human extras, but digital actors created using Linux. To consumers,Linux may rank third after Windows and Macintosh, but Linux dominates motion pictures more than anyone but studio insiders may realize. It has been used to produce more than 30 blockbuster films, including Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: Episode II, Harry Potter, Shrek,and Titanic.”
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
    ““Linux is an integral part of what we do here at Weta”, says Production Engineering Lead Peter Capelluto. “It’s very well suited for the dynamic needs of the visual-effects industry. Our department would have a much more difficult time accomplishing our goals with any other operating system.”

    “Weta predominantly uses Linux for our workstations and also for our renderfarm and servers”, says Capelluto. “There are a few applications that require the use of Mac OS X, Windows and Irix. Whenever possible, we use Linux. The open-source nature of Linux and the many Linux applications are a major advantage. We also prefer it for stability, low cost, access control, multiuser capabilities, control and flexibility.” Capelluto’s department develops pipeline software, such as the digital asset management system and the distributed resource management system for their renderfarm.”

  • WETA is hiring
    Look what they want:
    “Jobs available at Weta
    Technical Support
    1st May 2012
    We are currently looking for an enthusiastic and approachable person to help maintain our desktop computer infrastructure. Applicants should be conscientious, strong in problem solving and attention to detail, work independently as well as in a team and occasionally be prepared to work flexible hours. This is a desktop support position and an ideal skill set will include:
    * An good understanding of the Linux desktop operating system. In addition, a working knowledge of Windows and OSX would be an advantage.
    * General computer knowledge (including networking, applications, hardware)
    * Great customer service
    * Experience working in an IT support role (eg on a helpdesk or as a technician)
    * A tertiary or industry IT qualification
    * A film industry background (either onset or post-production) would also be viewed favourably.
    All candidates must hold New Zealand or Australian residency.
    Please send your resume to recruitment@wetafx.co.nz and complete the technical online questionnaire at www.wetadigital.com”

So, knock it off, naysayers. GNU/Linux is a general-purpose operating system. There isn’t anything a computer can do that GNU/Linux cannot facilitate, including graphics and editing video.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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24 Responses to Video, Graphics and GNU/Linux

  1. Steven Starr says:

    Facepalm!!!! Good Lord I have to set everyone here strait.

    First Off, there are no Windows only VFX shops, they don’t exist never have, never will.

    All reputable VFX studios use a combination of Windows, Mac and Linux.

    Linux is by far they single most important piece of the puzzle. Not only due to stability, performance, reliability, support, …. but also do to the fact that there are a few very highend vfx applications that only work on Linux “The Foundry’s (Katana)” is one of them.

    Comparing Gimp and Mari was just stupid they dont even do the same thing, Gimp is an “Image Editor” and
    Mari is for Texture Painting. Note: Mari runs like crap on Windows, and is clearly meant to run on Linux, with windows being an alternative.

    Gimp see’s little use in the VFX industry but only because of its lack of 16 and 32 Bit support. This will change as Gimp on Linux is a different beast then Gimp on Windows, Gimp has a few features and does something’s Photoshop doesnt.

    Now Krita on the other-hand does see alot of use and is not only sponsored by a few big names but is also becoming the goto tool for concept art, matte painting and rotoscopy. Can you say Digital Domain?

    As far as Blender is concerned, Pixar is actively working with the Blender Foundation to bring Pixar Tech to Blender and made the Public Statement that Blender is now capable of meeting there artist needs. blenders modeling tools are also far better than say Maya’s, you can test this simply by filling a hole in a mesh with a Quad. In Blender you select your edges and hit the F key. In maya you have to jump threw hoops and it still defaults to filling with two tri’s. This is horrible for animation.

    Now for Avid, Kdenlive isn’t a suitable alternative in regards to how VFX sudios do there video editing , BUT if Lightworks works out as planed, Avid is done for.

    After Effects is only a hobbyist tool, no one in the VFX industry uses it. Nuke rains king in this realm.

    In regards to Renderers no one uses the defaults, Maxwell and Arnold are whats hot right now and both have awsome Linux support.

  2. Chris Weig says:

    There is an operational Location is Paris France for Weta Digital.

    Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. Unfortunately, in his LinkedIn profile the chap says that he was in New Zealand for his job at Weta.

    If Weta has foreign offices why don’t they say so on their official website? Is it such a big secret? Why are job applicants required to live in Australia or New Zealand (or have feature film experience to get a visa)? Couldn’t they just work from one of Weta’s foreign offices?

    Mate, you’re full of it.

    So yes Effects Technical Director effects does require texture usage.

    Using textures is not the same as creating textures. Even you should be able to understand that.

  3. Chris Weig says:

    Reality you don’t know the job Chris Weig. Effects placement in scenes I do know and have done.

    No shit! Name the show(s). Where’s your demo reel?

  4. oldman says:

    “Reality you don’t know the job Chris Weig. Effects placement in scenes I do know and have done.”

    Now conveniently you are an vfx expert. Do you have any idea how much this smells?

    How about that SVC environment description?

  5. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig “It’s also a mystery why you assume that a Paris-based company trains Weta’s staff.”

    Really its not knowing Weta Digital. They are world travellers there is more than one Weta Digital office.

    http://www.yatedo.com/p/Baptiste+Henry/normal/40c3dec0fa6160402279aa11b28afc36

    There is an operational Location is Paris France for Weta Digital.

    In house in New Zealand. Paris operation is out sourced training.

    “A Technical Director, especially an Effects Technical Director, does no texturing. That’s the job of the Texture Artist. ”

    To be correct hair, masking and effects placement also connect to textures. Yes masking textures to place the effects. So yes effects artist does do some texture work is part of the job. Not normally highly detailed texturing.

    So yes Effects Technical Director effects does require texture usage.

    Reality you don’t know the job Chris Weig. Effects placement in scenes I do know and have done.

    There are other 2d tools on his skill list because they are required for effects work Chris Weig.

  6. Chris Weig says:

    Gimp is a case of replacing something that has been used for quite a while in Linux based workstations because photoshop does not work on them so cinepaint has been used.

    Ahem, what!? VFX houses can afford to buy Macs or Windows PCs. You know, where Photoshop runs. That’s also — as a friendly reminder — the reason why Adobe won’t port it. Those people who need it have Macs or Windows PCs, there’d be not enough additional new Linux sales to justify porting it.

    Gimp is used in your dreams an nowhere else. The same goes for Cinepaint which was once used but is dead now.

    Of course you are being a tiwt Chris Weig 3d artist does use 2d tools. Where do you think textures to skin chars come from. They are 2d images wrapped around 3d models.

    What an expert! You have no clue what happens inside a VFX house, do you? A Technical Director, especially an Effects Technical Director, does no texturing. That’s the job of the Texture Artist. Yes, most big houses have dedicated Texturing Departments. If not then it’s usually the 3D Modeller‘s job to create textures. But it’s not the job of a Technical Director.

    Chris Weig meet weta staff training company time quit.

    Look at what you cite. You can easily see that FX Machina’s Houdini training has a program and people have been trained. None of this is true for Blender. There’s not even a program on their web page. It’s also a mystery why you assume that a Paris-based company trains Weta’s staff. Weta have their own in-house training.

    The common VFX tool set is “Maya, Houdini, RealFlow, Blender, 3dsMax”

    Not, it’s not. Please read the LinkedIn profile again. He hasn’t used Blender for anything, it doesn’t appear on his “specialities” list. 3DS Max is also debatable, as it is usually not used by VFX houses for movie or TV work. But it is very strong in countless other fields.

  7. oiaohm says:

    Ivan
    “Why the hell would Weta use gimp over their internally developed Mari, Bob?”

    That is why I said it was odd to be on his resume when you know he only lists what made it into final production. Where and why would be highly interesting. Gimp listed it made it into a production released movie somewhere.

    Ivan watch videos of inside weta production sometime. But watch more carefully these are included with lots of Movies they make. Blender interface is unique. So weta is one using blender no questions. Again there resume listing policy must be used in final passes producing stuff that appears in a final cut to be listed on a resume. So you will not find anything used for internal prototyping listed on weta personal resumes.

    Companies policies on resumes sometimes cause some big questions. Like why gimp listed since he can only list it if something it made got into final of a movie somewhere.

  8. Ivan says:

    “Weta base 3d tool and video editor is Blender that is open source.”

    Pete, you are so full of shit that your eyes have turned brown, I suggest you find a quality laxative. Granted, there are a few studios that are using Blender, none of them are Weta Digital.

    “That must inspire the troops.”

    Why the hell would Weta use gimp over their internally developed Mari, Bob?

  9. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig gimp is his side gig because his primary workstation is Linux. He is sick of something else by the way cinepaint.

    Gimp is a case of replacing something that has been used for quite a while in Linux based workstations because photoshop does not work on them so cinepaint has been used. Gimp is not good enough until it can do 32 bit per channel color. Reason why cinepaint has been used on Linux VFX workstation is that gimp internal engine has been crap. Gimp 2.10 will be the first gimp in history that is good enough to be used in VFX more generically. Then go look at cinepaint compare to gimp and tell me what one you would want to use Chris Weig. Then him working on gimp makes perfect sense.

    Of course you are being a tiwt Chris Weig 3d artist does use 2d tools. Where do you think textures to skin chars come from. They are 2d images wrapped around 3d models.

    http://m.fxmachina.com/?_escaped_fragment_=mainPage#!mainPage
    Chris Weig meet weta staff training company time quit.

    The common VFX tool set is “Maya, Houdini, RealFlow, Blender, 3dsMax” With blender being the one that joins those into 1 huge tool. Maya, Houdini, RealFlow and 3ds Max has particular things they absolutely sux at. Liquids in Maya is not wise but hair is great. 3dsMax hair suxs. RealFlow hates hair great with liquid. Houdini not that useful by its self since its just a effects engine so complete absolutely sux at model production without question.

    Blender core engine does liquid and hair reasonably even if you do the hair part in Maya liquid part in RealFlow and composite those into one in final production. Blender makes the sketch pad.

    Blender is also able todo effects to a decent level on it own.

    Then current mango project at blender is also part funded by weta and other production houses. Blender when it went open source it was basically paid to come into existence by the commercial VFX houses.

    Different VFX artist have different point of view. Ones like CaYuS only list on resume those who results are in the movies he has done on screen. Not items like blender that are using in planning and prep. So when blender engine is good enough it most likely will appear on CaYuS resume.

    So my interesting question is where did a 8 bit channel per color image make it into a production work from gimp. Yes this is because I know what CaYuS lists on his resume only stuff that has got something from it on screen. He also deleted from his resume items he hates like cinepaint.

  10. kozmcrae says:

    Chris Weig wrote:

    “Wow, you have anger management issues, kozmcrae.”

    Your reality is skewed. So yeah, to you, I have anger issues. That’s not a problem around here, it’s an asset. At least to the Cult of Microsoft it is.

  11. Chris Weig says:

    Wow, you have anger management issues, kozmcrae. Better work on them. If you want to do something productive for a change, just show us the proof that Gimp and/or Blender (hell, I don’t care which) is professionally used at Weta. Hint: an entry in a guy’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t constitute a proof. Especially if one is unable to read the profile correctly.

    Well, it’s pointless waiting. The proof will never come. But you can continue to believe that Gimp and Blender’s takeover of the VFX world is “just around the corner”(TM).

  12. kozmcrae says:

    Cult of Microsoft member Chris Weig:

    “No, no no no no no no no no!”

    “Microsoft is not losing ground on video, not on the desktop, not nowhere, not anywhere. No, no no no no no no!”

    Sure Chris, whatever you say. Sure, you’re okay. Whatever you say is just okay.

    Putting words in your mouth is a practice I learned from the Cult of Microsoft. Denying it is something I can learn from them as well.

  13. Chris Weig says:

    Easy. Adrien “CaYuS” Toupet, current technical director of Weta Digital lists Gimp as one of his specialties on LinkedIn.

    Can I persuade you that this is absurd? Listing something as one’s “specialty” does not transform to said tool being used professionally at Weta. And that’s precisely what I asked.

    This guy you mentioned did this short film with two friends from his animation school about four years ago. There were only proprietary tools involved. And had you actually read the LinkedIn page of this guy, you’d have seen two things:

    1.) He’s primarily a 3D artist! And he even went to the length of listing the software he worked with for his various gigs. There’s Maya, there’s Houdini, there’s Softimage XSI.

    2.) He’s not a 2D artist! Gimp is therefore not more than a personal side gig for him.

    3.) Despite being a 3D artist, one thing is conspicuously missing from his specialties/tools listing: Blender. That already says something. It says, in fact, more than enough, because I don’t think that Weta or any other company has forbidden him to mention Blender on his LinkedIn profile.

  14. Chris Weig wrote, “Please cite any credible source that says that Weta is involved with Gimp development.”

    Easy. Adrien “CaYuS” Toupet, current technical director of Weta Digital lists Gimp as one of his specialties on LinkedIn.

    That must inspire the troops.

  15. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig with gimp its funds not usage. More they see possible usage option.

    Blender is usage and funds to development projects.

    “Blender hasn’t the best renderer. Blender hasn’t the best modelling tools. Blender hasn’t the best animation tools. Blender hasn’t the best compositor. So you can do (theoretically) everything in one package, but you don’t have the best tools of the trade available.”

    Blender pipe line can link out to everything else. Blender does contain one of the best motion trackers second to none.

    How much did you list that blender does not have the best yet accepts plug-ins from the best for.

    So you don’t need the best to mock up but you do need a bit of everything to work out what tools you need. Blender is the free lancers tool for a reason. So freelancer can work out what they need and lend it. Its not the best at very much but blender the worst at nothing. You would call blender without add-ons a middle of the road solution. Middle of road solution is good in the mock up stage. So you don’t avoid doing something because the tool you have particular suxs at doing something.

    “I’ve ever heard. VFX studios want to use what’s best (suited for them).”
    What is best suited in rendering engine, animation engine….. Changes on the job and how the sence has to look. So you might have maya doing the animation processing a different 3d engine doing the output rendering. To get it to turn out how the director wants.

    What is the best changes from job to job. VFX studios want what is best suited to what they are attempting to produce. Blender fits in due to it not being the absolute worst at anything. So if you render in like maya or 3d studio max looks worse than blender its the wrong render or animation solution for the scene. Same with animations. Blender gives you that base line. Straight drop anything that does not equal or better blenders results for the scene you are attempting to produce. Of course one tools you keep for current scene could sux for the next scene.

    One of blenders big advantages is the means to trial a lot of different rendering and animation engines quickly particular in cluster setups.

    Chris Weig
    “People are raving in their little basements about Sintel & Co., but these movies are still miles behind what real VFX studios using proprietary or in-house software can do and do regularly. Sintel was so bad, you could’ve often mistaken it for a video game. PS3 or Xbox 360 games these days look just as good.”

    http://code.blender.org/index.php/2011/04/modernizing-shading-and-rendering/ That Sintel look sux due to internal render is known. “There is also the problem that the internal render engine is showing its age. Before and during the Sintel project,”

    With a item like blender when you can plugin 40+ different rendering engines the internal rendering engine does not get a good work out that often. One of the big advantages of blender is means to swap quickly between rendering engines if something does not render right in one engine. There are ways to plugin third party animation solutions as well.

    Blender is very much a office suite that connects to almost everything else out there.

    Sintel movie as dog fooding was not even allow to swap blender internal engine for other open source engines that could have rendered the movie better. Since this would defeat why Sintel was made. Sintel was made to find the defects. Same with the movies before Sintel.

    http://mango.blender.org/ would also pay you to look at notice how far the core engine has lifted.

  16. oiaohm says:

    Ted This is something to be aware of.

    Editshare behind lightworks uses Linux for all its storage.

    The Avid is the same with using Linux storage and processing servers.

    The client interface software for Avid and Lightworks currently is Windows. Prototypes of Linux only has been demoed with Lightworks.

    Editshare is wanting to reduce high end editing to only 1 OS required instead of 2. Yes simpler not to require windows just for user interfaces.

    So storage and back end processing with Lightworks or The Avid is Linux.

    To be truthful there are more movies out there from blender than Final Cut pro.

    Ted Lightworks and Avid basically split the top end.

    Final Cut Pro cannot do what Lightworks or Avid can.

    Linux is quite dominate in the processing engine side of the top end products Ted.

    Ted
    “To easily work out what films are edited on AVID since its release, make a list of films still edited the old-fashioned way on film (vanishingly few these days, but there are still some purists), then a list of films edited on Final Cut Pro (not exactly a long list either). Everything else was cut on AVID.”

    No wrong. You missed remove lightworks and blender cut. Lightworks. Lightworks control interface is nicer to use than AVIDs.

  17. Chris Weig says:

    Also companies Weta are driving gimp forwards and adding more image editing features to blender.

    Please cite any credible source that says that Weta is involved with Gimp development. The same goes for Blender. Despite Weta having hosted a one-time Blender competition in 2010, they are doing exactly what with regards to Blender development? There’d be no sense in it. If Blender and Gimp are hot shit, VFX studios would’ve adopted them by now. It hasn’t happened.

    And comparing Blender with an office suite is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. VFX studios want to use what’s best (suited for them). Blender hasn’t the best renderer. Blender hasn’t the best modelling tools. Blender hasn’t the best animation tools. Blender hasn’t the best compositor. So you can do (theoretically) everything in one package, but you don’t have the best tools of the trade available. That’s like buying a toolbox at Aldi.

    So tell me, at which point would studios want to integrate Blender into their pipeline?

    People are raving in their little basements about Sintel & Co., but these movies are still miles behind what real VFX studios using proprietary or in-house software can do and do regularly. Sintel was so bad, you could’ve often mistaken it for a video game. PS3 or Xbox 360 games these days look just as good.

  18. Chris Weig says:

    Mr. Pogson, my post has been eaten by your spam filter. Please rescue it, I don’t want to write it again.

  19. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig VFX house without Linux somewhere is rare.

    Normal is to have a Linux cluster for rendering processing even if the rest is windows.

    Ivan
    “You provide examples of specialized proprietary software being used and then call linux general-purpose.”

    Not all cases are specialised proprietary. Weta base 3d tool and video editor is Blender that is open source. Specialised software yes. Not always proprietary and the non proprietary stuff runs on Linux. This is why there workstations have Linux.

    Ivan its a common talk that Linux cannot do video editing Ivan that is bogus. Linux currently lacks only one level of tool in video editing. Lightworks on Linux will solve that.

    Also companies Weta are driving gimp forwards and adding more image editing features to blender. Blender is very much the office suite of 3d movie production. Blender today can do every task you need to make a 3d movie bar audio edit. Yes it can edit and create 2D images. Just like a Office suite not all the contained programs are the best in the field.

    Yes blender is a unique beast in the 3d movie world. It was a unique beast when it was closed source.

    3d studio max + Blacksmith3D matchs up to blender for model create. If you go the 3d studio max path you need a total of 10 addons and still cannot do everything blender can without add-ons.

    Blender is the freelancers 3d modelling tool and lot of major houses first tool due to the fact its broad. Then with its plugins can use all the other rendering engines out there including 3d studio max. Yes 3d studio max can be used as a blender addon.

  20. Ivan says:

    You provide examples of specialized proprietary software being used and then call linux general-purpose.

    Have you had your doctor check if you were suffering from dementia?

  21. Ted says:

    “Linux dominates in professional video editing.”

    No it doesn’t. AVID does.

    You’re either making things up (again), or you’re woefully uninformed.

    To easily work out what films are edited on AVID since its release, make a list of films still edited the old-fashioned way on film (vanishingly few these days, but there are still some purists), then a list of films edited on Final Cut Pro (not exactly a long list either). Everything else was cut on AVID.

  22. Chris Weig says:

    Kozmcrae, all links Mr. Pogson has posted concern the visual effects industry. The visual effects industry provides — what a shock — visual effects. They get empty plates without visual effects and add visual effects. They do not edit movies. And the dominance of Avid for movie editing in Hollywood is unbroken. And Avid is only available for Windows and Mac.

    But please do tell us which major Hollywood motion picture has been edited with Kdenlive or Openshot.

  23. kozmcrae says:

    Chris Weig struggles to deny the truth. Linux dominates in professional video editing. You’ve been read the riot act yet you still deny. You know what that means? You will continue to deny. And, like the frog in the ever warming pan of water, you will continue to deny until your position becomes a ridiculous farce. You won’t see it that way of course, but every one else will. Everyone that is, but the other frogs.

  24. Chris Weig says:

    Mr. Pogson, video editing is video editing. It’s not VFX. Since you brought up Weta, both “Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong” were cut on Avid. You got your terminology mixed up.

    The reason many VFX houses use Linux has to do with tradition, as they were Unix shops before, catered by — you guessed it — SGI. You can also find many VFX houses which are purely Windows-based or use a mixture of both Linux and Windows. Just as an example, the greater part of Japanese animation studios use 3D Studio Max and Adobe After Effects on Windows.

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