Linux Powers The Spiderwick Chronicles

Linux software on Macintosh desktops with Linux renderfarms creates Paramount movie.
Plentiful Commercial Linux Animation Tools

There are commercial Linux software tools available to Linux animators beyond big packages like Maya. “cMuscle is a system for simulating muscle movement”, says Darling. “We used it for muscle jiggle, skin jiggle, skin smoothing and sliding effects. We use SyFlex for the clothing worn by Red Cap and Hogsqueal. This system was augmented by some custom cloth/deformation software developed at Tippett Studio.”

Figure 8. Creature skin, muscles and skeletal structures—the green and yellow images represent soft body jiggle maps. Along with the muscle system, we also have what is called tension controls. These are blendshapes of various body parts that when fired give those areas a more flexed look, giving the illusion of the skin tightening.

Figure 9. Creature muscles (red) and basic skeletal system (white). For this creature, Tippett Studio's hair and fur system Furocious was used to grow fur that had the appearance and behavior of grass, which is one of the unique camouflaging features of this character.

Figure 10. Animation controls for the Troll.

“cineSpace allows us to have a specific, consistent look on all viewing devices that simulate our finaling medium—the look of the film that the director is using for final shots”, says Darling. “Since film is still the master format, this means a combination of a specific film stock and a specific lab that is used to process and print that film. A cineSpace profile allows us to produce an image digitally that has the same look and characteristics of that same image if it were printed to film. It is important that we are looking at the same thing that the director sees, as well as what will eventually be seen in the theater.”

“Tippett Studio's primary operating system is Linux”, says Darling. “Open-source software is very important to us. In addition to it being a part of our pipeline, we've contributed to a few projects over the years, such as Pixie. Open source is also something that can enable standards. An example of this would be the OpenEXR Project. We really needed a standardized high-dynamic-range image format that was supported in commercial and open-source CG software. The EXR image file format has now become a de facto standard image file format in our industry, simply because it was open-sourced.”

The Creatures of Spiderwick

“In Spiderwick all unexplained phenomena in the world are due to fantastical creatures that are all around us”, says director Mark Waters. The movie is based on the best-selling series of children's books written by Holly Black and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. The Spiderwick Chronicles is a family adventure fantasy set at the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate, constructed in Canada at Quebec's Cap-Ste-Jacques Nature park.

The movie opens to wide release on February 15th, 2008. There's also a Spiderwick video game in development.

Robin Rowe is a partner in and a former DreamWorks Animation technologist. He's speaking at FOSDEM ( in Brussels, February 23, 2008. Robin is also the project manager for the open-source motion picture painting tool CinePaint,



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Motif Lives!

Anonymous's picture

Motif is alive and well on Linux, as the above screenshots clearly indicate.


Anonymous's picture

I don’t think that data grids manage anything beyond data which is exactly what they

supposed to do. In the essence, data grids are distributed caches for RDBMSs. That’s what

they evolved from (Coherence, GigaSpaces).

Titanic movie rendered with Linux

Carlie Fairchild's picture

Robin mentions the Titanic movie was rendered in Linux -- see the LJ article about it here,

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

Awesome to know someone else uses Linux on Mac Pros!!

Dave's picture

This is awesome!! I run a Mac Pro 5160 at home with FC8, I'm glad to know someone else out there is using Mac Pros with Linux on them for the same reason I do. Good hardware at a great price vs. performance ratio running Linux to take advantage of the software I use everyday in my work.