Thursday, September 12, 2002

Fine... I'll just take my OS and go Home

[Posted by Kevin:]

Ok, I was going ask this question specifically to tdl, but I figured the folks reading this log are intelligent people too, so I'll ask everyone. Also, as far as I know, this is the first question posted to MonkeySpeak (other than the sign question) so I'm being a pioneer.

Here's the deal, I run the graphics production department in a smallish (~35) company that makes theater equipment. We are strictly a Windows production house. Despite our size, we have very beefy system requirements. We focus on making scientific visualizations for our flag ship product - a full dome (think planetarium) hi-definition digital theater (think digital Omnimax). We use 3dsmax for 3d work, Digital Fusion for compositing and Photoshop for still image work. We have 6 terabytes of imagery and content that has to be accessible at all times, render on 30+ dedicated systems, and develop content on 5 dedicated workstations.

I'm getting more and more concerned about vanishing privacy and rights under MS and have always been looking to jump ship. However, until recently there has not been enough application support for film level modeling, compositing, and imaging, that could be had on non MS systems without gobs of cash or dedicated programmers.

The question is, if I want to switch to Linux / derivative (read non-MS), and want to do film compositing, high res 3d and high color depth imagery on Linux based systems, which platform/window interface is best? Should I have one flavor for the serving of our massive amounts of content and another for the production machines? What "big 3" apps can replace the MS based Photoshop, Digital Fusion, and 3ds max? Our rendering plates are 4k x 4k and a typical shot will have 10-30 layers.

Now remember, we cannot afford Shake (whose future is questionable on Linux anyway), nor can we hire a dedicated programmer to port tools for us to Linux. Film Gimp is obvious, possibly Maya, but where else? I’ve considered emulators, but quickly discounted those. More of a concern is the flavor of Linux and window manager. I want to have all the same functionality as a Win machine, without big brother. We can handle reasonable system maintenance, and the stations are pretty up to date with no exotic hardware. I will be trying the setup on my own studio machine to evaluate, so experimentation is acceptable.

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