Linux is making a big splash in Hollywood studios, and research from IBM's media and entertainment division shows that almost all the major studios will shift to Linux for special effects and animation. IBM's VP of media and entertainment, Steve Canepa, thinks the move will happen quickly over the next year to year-and-a-half, and that "this market segment is going to move en masse to Linux ... [to] retool their content creation onto an open platform."
Hollywood studios have been using Linux for a while: some of Titanic's 3D graphics effects were done on a Linux computer cluster, and parts of Shrek were created on Linux-run boxes. Since Linux is free and Open Source, it offers studios "infinitely customizable" functionality at a much lower cost than existing systems. Alias/Wavefront's Maya software was previously available for WinNT, Win2000 Professional, and IRIX, and now works with Red Hat Linux as well because, as co-founder Mark Sylvester said, "Off-the-shelf software only gets you a certain part of the way. If you want to push the envelope, which requires innovation for a certain product, that requires a robust architecture people can program in." The Open Source model is also attractive to many of Hollywood's tech-savvy decision makers. Pixar (maker of the Toy Story movies) and Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas' company) are currently considering making the move.
The market for Linux in Hollywood is not new. Silicon Graphics (now known as SGI), has been offering Linux solutions on its computers for a couple of years, leveraging its dominant hold on special effects computers in studios (in use since Jurassic Park). HP and Sun have also been shipping their Linux flavors on their servers, and now IBM is targeting the market with its forthcoming hardware, software, and services bundle called Linux Digital Studio (an announcement is supposed to be made today).