31 December 2009

What Lies at the Heart of "Avatar"?

If nothing else, "Avatar" is a computational tour-de-force. Here are some details of the kit they used:

It takes a lot of data center horsepower to create the stunning visual effects behind blockbuster movies such as King Kong, X-Men, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and most recently, James Cameron’s $230 million Avatar. Tucked away in Wellington, New Zealand are the facilities where visual effects company Weta Digital renders the imaginary landscapes of Middle Earth and Pandora at a campus of studios, production facilities, soundstages and a purpose-built data center.

...

The Weta data center got a major hardware refresh and redesign in 2008 and now uses more than 4,000 HP BL2×220c blades (new BL2×220c G6 blades announced last month), 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking gear from Foundry and storage from BluArc and NetApp. The system now occupies spot 193 through 197 in the Top 500 list of the most powerful supercomputers.

Here's info about Weta from the Top500 site:

Site WETA Digital
System Family HP Cluster Platform 3000BL
System Model Cluster Platform 3000 BL 2x220
Computer Cluster Platform 3000 BL2x220, L54xx 2.5 Ghz, GigE
Vendor Hewlett-Packard
Application area Media
Installation Year 2009

Operating System Linux

Oh, look: Linux. Why am I not surprised...?

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25 comments:

zaine_ridling said...

Ha, ha, nice find! And I think it's an important little flick of the fingers to continue pointing out how ubiquitous Linux has become, from the Hadron Collider to your toaster.

glyn moody said...

@Zaine: indeed, it's getting pretty ubiquitous, and that's worth pointing out...

hrd; hurode said...

However, I went to the cinema to watch Avatar, and just before the movie I had 3 advertisements for HP with Windows7… and ironically all of them featured a pinguoin!

glyn moody said...

the levels of irony are becoming too complex....

L4Linux said...

You are not surprised because 95% of the top 500 supercomputers run Linux.

glyn moody said...

L4Linux: exactly.

Vlada said...

>ubiquitous Linux has become, from the >Hadron Collider to your toaster.


Sounds like a great ad slogan for Gnu-Linux:
"Linux, from the Hadron Collider to your toaster."

Thomas Mc. said...

The Hadron Super Collider @ CERN runs on Linux, too.

glyn moody said...

@Thomas: yes, good point

Peter said...

One o/s to rule them all.

glyn moody said...

@Vlada: it does indeed

guy said...

But did linux get a credit on the movie (I've not seen it)? The hardware vendors usually do. Is that because they supply gear for free or at reduced cost? How about it? Or perhaps a namecheck at the Oscars?

But then, surely that should be GNU/linux.

glyn moody said...

@guy: I've not seen it either - anyone who has, seen anything in the credits?

twitter said...

The irony count. Movie publishers have made extensive use of free software for more than a decade but promotes non free software by: 1. Making sure you can't legally watch these movies using gnu/linux. 2. Promoting non free software with all forms of product placement and advertising. 3. Generally vilifying free software. 4. Hiding their use of free software.

I'm waiting for promoters of ACTA to compare free software to Osama Bin Laden. ESR saw this coming six years ago.

[expect from Microsoft] legal and political shenanigans much bigger and uglier than we've yet seen. ... an attack using junk patents as weapons ... [work with] the RIAA and MPAA in making yet another try at hardware-based DRM restrictions — and legislation making them mandatory. ... and a lockout of all unauthorized software. ... open-source software outlawed on some kind of theory that it aids terrorists.

The patent extortion was launched, we all suffer from hardware corruption and Vista did bake digital restrictions into hardware. Movies like Ironman have been driving the old "hacker" smears to new levels and there's a general toxic current linking understanding of technology to terrorism.

glyn moody said...

@twitter: thanks for the interesting links.

Strattonpond said...

I wasn not looking for it and I might be wrong, but I thought that I saw a Microsoft credit toward the end of the credits.

glyn moody said...

@Strattonpond: OK, thanks - anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Windows HPC 2008 : recommended price 475USD per node

4000+ nodes ... oh you just saved 2M $

Anonymous said...

Have a look at their jobs site,
http://www.wetafx.co.nz/jobs/

andd this article
http://www.renalias.net/blog/oscars-road/2004/12/25/weta_digital_uses_linuxkde

It looks like they use Linux on the desktop as well.

glyn moody said...

@anon: nice bit of work spotting that - thanks for passing it on...

Linux User said...

Nice post! I just did a Linux ogggast today where I talked about Mr. Cameron's use of Linux in 3-D rendering for Avatar. I have to agree that it was visually breathtaking. My Linux Oggcast is here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/AcrossadLinuxOggcast

glyn moody said...

Thanks for the link. "oggcast" - I like it...

Catalin said...

They also used marketing to make this movie so popular. They used a lot of media channels to advertise with a big accent on the online communities. Have a look at this article to see the work behind the scenes: http://www.thehdstandard.com/general-discussion/avatar-video-streaming/

Catalin
Professional Streaming Consultant

glyn moody said...

@Catalin: yes, good point - thanks.

Consa said...

Avatar is a good love story and the movie effect is very good.