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DreamWorks Animation "Shrek the Third": Linux Feeds an Ogre

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Movies

All the big film studios primarily use Linux for animation and visual effects. Perhaps no commercial Linux installation is larger than DreamWorks Animation, with more than 1,000 Linux desktops and more than 3,000 server CPUs.

"For Shrek 3, we will consume close to 20 million CPU render hours for the making of the film", says DreamWorks Animation CTO Ed Leonard. "Each of our films continues to push the edge of what's possible, requiring more and more compute power." Everyone knows Moore's Law predicts that compute power will double every one and a half years. A little known corollary is that feature cartoon animation CPU render hours will double every three years. In 2001, the original Shrek movie used about 5 million CPU render hours. In 2004, Shrek 2 used more than 10 million CPU render hours. And in 2007, Shrek 3 is using 20 million CPU render hours.

"At any given time, we are working on more than a dozen films", says Leonard. "Each of those films has its own creative ambition to push the limits of CG filmmaking." DreamWorks Animation employs about 1,200 people, with about two-thirds in their Glendale studio and the rest in their PDI studio in Redwood City linked by a 2Gb network. (Note that DreamWorks Animation, a publicly traded company led by Jeffrey Katzenberg, isn't Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks live-action that merged with Paramount recently.)

"There were many specific technical advancements on the movie."

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