Ubuntu Linux Used in the Making of Avatar


Linux infrastructure was heavily used in Avatar's graphics rendering done by Weta Digital.

(C) Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Weta Digital is the digital visual effects company which worked on the visual effects of the flora and fauna of Pandora. To achieve the impressive visual effects, Weta Digital have modified their in-house software Massive and used their 10,000 square foot Data Center with more than 40,000 CPUs.

The Data Center of Weta Digital was re-built in 2008 and consists of 34 racks and more than 4,000 Hewlett-Packard blade servers with a 104TB of RAM. Ubuntu is at the core of all of this, running on all of the rendering nodes, and 90% of the desktops at Weta Digital, according to Paul Gunn, the data center's systems administrator.

The "farm" is in fact an Ubuntu Server farm and does not run Red Hat Linux as previously reported by the Media.

Processing 7 to 8 gigabytes of data per second, running 24 hours a day and 17.28 gigabytes per minute of storage, the computing power and data management put the system in position 193 between top 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Weta Digital was co-founded by Peter Jackson and is located in Wellington, New Zealand. Some of the productions Weta Digital worked on are The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Fantastic Four, Eragon, X-Men and i-Robot.


Although Weta is in NZ, Hollywood has been using Linux for years to create movies. Essentially every blockbuster you see has been created with the help of Linux.



I don't get it. So if they used Ubuntu to do the effects, what software did they use? Or was Ubuntu just some technical framework and they used some Mac or Windows software to do the effects?
Because I only hear that GNU/Linux video software is not as good as proprietary stuff and in fact cannot even be compared. I would be happy to know I am wrong.


They used linux to do the actual rendering; the modelling was probably done on Windows, Mac, or Linux (Maya, for instance, runs on all of those platforms) - whatever the artists felt like using. One area that linux excels at is using a lot of hardware and treating it as one giant, super-fast computer; that's why most of the world's top 500 supercomputers run linux.


This is likely just a rendering farm, which means the cluster where the completed scenes are sent to do all the calculations for lighting, transparency, and so on. Linux is commonly used in this type of setup because adding and removing computers from the cluster is quite simple with this operating system. So, to answer your question, no, they probably didn't design on Ubuntu.

They could, however, do that if they wanted to. Blender is a very capable cross-platform (and Open Source) piece of 3D modeling software. It was used to create Big Buck Bunny. http://www.bigbuckbunny.org/

The link posted above you has some good info about what software is used in these big-budget productions. It's old, but probably still applicable.

Wow that so nice to hear .....
"The Spiderwick Chronicles" used Linux entirely .....

Weta uses Ubuntu desktops as well as servers the some of the programs they use for VFX are Nuke, Shake, Houdini, and Cinepaint, all are native to Linux and run great in Ubuntu.

All I know is I loved the movie

I love the graphics work in Avatar, and always been wondering what it took to make this kind of top class graphics. And here i get all the answers to my questions. After reading this article i have been wondering and sketching their in-house software Massive and their 10,000 square foot Data Center with more than 40,000 CPUs in mind. Really, computer world has improved so far and beyond limitations. It's like Sky is the limit. Great work in Avatar and would like to see more of it's kind in future.
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Granting copyright to a living language, albeit a computer language is an American thing - a way to produce large tax-paying corporation bases for the governments, so they too can skim, just like the mafia at Vegas! Next, American judges grated patent rights to seeds, and pigs! Neat: hybrid genius children will be bred and sold like commodities along with bigger, better cows and fish! $Microsoft exists because of corrupt American patent law! which has proven to be unenforced in places like China because they do not profit from enforcement - so we have a paradox, thieves openly make copies of $Microsoft software the world over, and in some countries are prosecuted, others not! France uses Ubuntu and Linux throughout its government to save paying the universal $Microsoft computer usage tax - as do many other countries, and wisely so! greater programming advances in these other living languages have been made, while $Microsoft is limited by the range of coverage of its patents! Time is long over-due for Americans to give up their "patent protected intellectual superiority" and realize that others have done great things in other programming languages that theirs! Time for American pseudo intellectuals to join in the party and compete on a level field with Chinese, Indian, Taiwanese, European, programmers. Expect the last word in programming to come from India, not America, as Americans have been held back all these years by asinine patent laws!

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