Film GIMP at Rhythm & Hues

Robin introduces Film GIMP, an open-source Linux tool being used in major motion pictures.
Lighting with Voodoo

Lighting TD Greg Yepes uses internally created lighting tool Voodoo on projects such as Harry Potter or Canon printer commercials. “When setting up lighting for 3-D objects composited into a scene I'll initially set my virtual lights to an extreme value so I easily can see what I'm doing”, says Yepes. “Later it will go into Wren with more subdued values.” Similar to RenderMan, the Wren software is their internal rendering engine ported to Linux a year ago. “All the apps have gotten ported faster than we had thought”, says Yepes. “I started with DEC Alphas on Cats & Dogs, then the Intel PCs came on-line and really saved us.”

Voodoo Screenshot—Canon Commercial

Voodoo Screenshot—Canon Commercial

Using Film GIMP

Film GIMP replaced an internally developed paint tool called Inc. “We like to use Film GIMP to dust-bust”, says Dahllöf. “There might be dust or a piece of hair on the plate either from scanning or from the negative. Normally one will clone/merge from the previous frame or from the same frame to remove the dust.” Film GIMP also is used for rig and wire removal, for example on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Lighters may use Film GIMP to edit fur control files. “These control files are used by our internal fur program, Fur. Lighters also use GIMP to paint textures and make paint fixes to frames”, says Dahllöf.

“As the studio moves to Linux, more and more people will use Film GIMP on Linux”, says Dahllöf. Because she is evaluating SGI-based commercial paint programs, Matador and Illusion, Dahllöf usually works with Film GIMP running on SGI, not Linux. “I'm looking to see what features I need to add to Film GIMP to make it an equal tool. We need a good paint tool for Linux that our 2-D department can use. We have not found a satisfactory commercial solution.”

“GIMP didn't support any sequence work, which is important for a 2-D artist”, says Dahllöf. “A lot of their work is cloning from one frame to the next in a sequence. So, we added a frame manager.” R&H uses its own proprietary RLL file format. “A major feature of Film GIMP is 16-bit per channel color, and it is compatible with our file format. We do not get any of the color loss when using Film GIMP that we can get with other 16-bit paint packages.”

Downloading and Building Film GIMP

To get Film GIMP we had to check it out of anonymous CVS. There is no tarball, RPM or deb. You must build it from source. The Film GIMP branch is named HOLLYWOOD:

cvs -z3 -d:pserver:anonymous@gap:/cvs/gnome checkout

We had configured our firewall PC named gap to have its port 2401 point to the server If we weren't behind a firewall, we would have specified that server directly in the cvs checkout command rather than our proxy.

After the 18MB download from CVS completed we had to make some minor corrections in order to build. In gimp/plug-ins/ we had to delete rll, pts, fm_pts and parsley from the list of directories included in the SUBDIRS variable there. These plugins will not build in Film GIMP and would cause the build to fail.

cd gimp
libtoolize --force
./configure -prefix=/usr/local
The Linux Conversion at R&H

Technology VP Mark Brown says, “We have 50 Linux machines as desktops now and will have 250 Linux desktops by the end of 2002. We also have a 200-node Linux renderfarm, but that expands or contracts with demand.” R&H wrote their our own virtualized filesystem to support PTS, their production tracking system. R&H uses the ext2 filesystem.

“We decided against actually building our own boxes and have ordered 100 Dual processor 1.5GHz AMD machines with Angstrom Microsystems”, says Brown. “This was the most cost-effective move at this time. All our current desktops are dual PIII. We will support a completely heterogeneous environment. Video cards and CPUs are two of the things we know we can't keep completely consistent at the desktop.”