The Power of the Incredible Hulk—the ILM Linux Death Star

The story in the July 2002 issue of Linux Journal about the Linux desktop and renderfarm conversion at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) drew record interest from readers. Linux has advanced at ILM in the past year, meeting the special challenges ILM faced in creating the movie The Hulk (release June 2003).
Digital Dailies

ILM ships dailies worldwide over the ILM Conduit, a proprietary file-transfer system that uses an encrypted-SSL transport. Everything is doubly encrypted with Blowfish. ILM has playback software for Windows, Macintosh and a Web-based Java applet version that works everywhere. “MJPEG-A QuickTime is our core movie container format”, says Thompson, “but Conduit can carry anything—match-move data, digital pictures, dailies. People can play back dailies on Linux desktops across regular network connections. That's pretty impressive. It used to be you could do that only on SGI equipment”. For dailies, ILM has 20TB in EMC Clarrion FC4700 arrays, fronted by 4-proc Sun E420R servers with 4GB memory and gigabit Ethernet. “Shot disks” are arranged in quarter-terabyte chunks of storage.

The Linux Greenlight

“Linux means having incredible amounts of processing power to solve any problem”, says Sutton. “In The Hulk, we had I don't know how many layers of textures for skin and hair. We can do incredibly complex scenes using Linux.” What movies a studio makes is influenced by cost and schedule. Faster, cheaper Linux means more movies.


Jimmy Perry (, marketing coordinator of RackSaver, Inc., for his conception and aid in the development of this feature.

Robin Rowe ( is a partner in the motion picture technology company, the release manager of Film Gimp and the leader of and


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