HP's Linux-based technology played a major role in the production of DreamWorks' latest animated film SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON. According to HP, placing Linux in the hands of traditional animators allowed for the seamless blend of 2D and 3D animation, a format that DreamWorks is calling "tradigital" animation. During the making of the film, HP engineers worked closely with DreamWorks to enhance the functionality of Linux to power ToonShooter, DreamWorks' proprietary 2D animation software. ToonShooter allowed animators to convert traditional hand-drawn artwork into a digital format that can be easily played back and manipulated during production. ToonShooter's video playback feature needed to run at film speed (24 frames-per-second) with synchronized audio. At the time, 2D playback at that speed had never been achieved on Linux. HP and DreamWorks worked together to enable ToonShooter, running on Linux, to perform above the necessary 24 frames-per-second. To complete the film, DreamWorks used high-performance HP Linux workstations and HP servers. Earlier this year, HP and DreamWorks announced a three-year, multi-million dollar technology alliance with HP providing the computing infrastructure for DreamWorks' next-generation digital studio. The Glendale-based studio is beginning production on the CG animated feature SHARKSLAYER.
J. Paul Peszko looks at the risks that DreamWorks conquered by bringing Spirit to the screen.