Equipping the studio

  / by Ton

I’ve already started contacting potential hardware sponsors before Siggraph, and met with a lot of hardware manufacturors there. Contacts with especially Sun, HP and SGI were promising. Unfortunately everyone went on holidays afterwards, and told me to discuss follow-ups on the IBC tradeshow in Amsterdam. This discussion is still ongoing, but we’re getting the picture of how our studio might be equipped now.

Since no single sponsor is going to provide us with all machines, an interesting solution would be to equip the studio with a variation of OS’s. Thanks to the discounts we got from Apple, we’ve purchased 2 G5s with 23″ screens now. We’ll also purchase two or three Linux workstations (AMD, Nvidia, widescreens too) and – fingers crossed – get a free Sun Solaris station and/or a SGI Prism. That would enable our project to do a nice wide range of software and release testing!

Of course, we also need a good file server. Toni, our TD, is already making a list for what we need for storage (hundreds of gigs!) and backup. Luckily Montevideo can provide us with hardware to get this working easily.

It’s mainly thanks to the ongoing support of the DVD presales, that we have the funding to purchase what we’ll need for the project. But I can’t stress enough the importance of the campaign to continue still. The thermometer still should hit the 1000 one of these weeks… or better, go to 2000 by xmas!

(Oh btw, for those who wondered, after the project we might have to sell the purchased hardware again… I’ve also checked on rental possibilities, but renting for six months good equipment is nearly equal to buying it. Of course we’ll try to have a 2nd Orange project ready by then, but I rather not worry about that now!)

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13 Responses to “Equipping the studio”

  1. Brian said on 14 Sep, 2005:

    I hope you won’t have to sell the hardware! Would be useful for testing and for the next project. I have yet to pick up the Project Orange DVD. Will it have very detailed making of? Not just interviews that show off Blender. I want to see exactly how this model was created and this effect was accomplished.

  2. Joeri Kassenaar said on 14 Sep, 2005:

    I don’t think the making_of_ will be a tutorial guide.
    Although it will go deep into topics, there will also be enough topics to show.
    Another issue is the length of the making_of; We want to put all the data on the dvd’s, ( they should give a very good impression on how stuff was done :) ) so there is no endless space for hours of footage. All in all no reason not to buy the Dvd, it will be fully packed with interesting material.

  3. Josh Wheeler said on 15 Sep, 2005:

    Why not use a simple Linux box for a RAID file server on serial ATA? I’ve heard that gigabit ethernet isn’t so bad.

    Just on passing thought, I wonder if LaCie would be interested in supporting your project with some of their cool products. The 2TB Ethernet Disk looks pretty promising.

  4. Jerry Coopert said on 16 Sep, 2005:

    I think that using a not opensource HW-SW like an Apple system, is a big error.

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. dante said on 16 Sep, 2005:

    I have to agree with Jerry Coopert on this one. I guess I never thought about it untill he said something but now you can’t really say your using *all* open-source software….

  6. silverfox said on 17 Sep, 2005:

    The big question?

    Apple computers do run linux very well. Darwin(the os kernel is open source) So even the kernel plus X11 lib system would be all open source.

    AoE(ATA Over Ethernet) is a very fast fix. ATA linux raid servers do not keep up with AoE targeted boxs. Each drive in a AoE targeted box has a server card running on Gig. This is then connected to a switch. Very fast traffic.

    I would guess speed is important. AoE boxs have one verry important feature means of setup auto roll out of dead drives without powering down.

    I never care what the hardware is for servers first question does it run linux if yes no problems I just go and order the disks.(preplaining most cases landed over night)

    AoE is the same as Blade Servers. Ie a Blade server might be more use to the project but cost would most likely be out the question.(Ask IBM and them any how)

  7. Jerry Coopert said on 18 Sep, 2005:

    > Apple computers do run linux very well

    Not so well, as i know.

    > Darwin(the os kernel is open source) So even the kernel plus
    > X11 lib system would be all open source.

    Darwin’s License (Apple Public Source License, not compatibile with the GNU-GPL) has not been approved by the FSF (Free Software Fundation). That’s not exactly an OpenSource creature, IMHO.

    Anyway, i think that the Orange project was very different from using only Apple sponsored stuff for all the project, as i see.

    If a *really* opensource project was the challenge to develop Blender on a free and multiplatform view, IMHO, that’s absolutely not compatible with Apple stuff.

    My 2 cents.

  8. Elcrapocrew said on 18 Sep, 2005:

    Well Apple is REALLY not my thing so I cannot claim to be impartial in my judgments there, but my I just say to the Orange team “Great work so far.”
    If you guys need to use something … use it. While I would prefer that all the Macs on the planet simply vanish in a puff of PC victory for all mankind, if that is the best option available then the open source community should bare it.
    All of us should remember that the Orange team knows all of the details of their project and we do not, so if they go with one solution over another then there must have been some reason for that decision.
    For a guy that is about to spend about 50USD for a movie that will likely be less than 30min long and I have no idea what it will even be about that takes ALOT to say!
    This is, as you say, only my 2 cents.

  9. Ton said on 18 Sep, 2005:

    First of all, it’s not the OS or the hardware that’s going to make this movie. This project is firstmost targeted at supporting development of open sorce computer graphics tools. Blender is naturally our first choice, but also Gimp and Cinepaint (and of course Python) are part of our daily tools. We’ll also look at using Yafray, Verse, Python, Aqsis and Cinerella.

    Blender has a strong origin as a cross platform tool, and we’ll keep supporting as many platforms as possible. Blender doesn’t have a Linux origin even, it was created on SGI Irix, and the first port we did was to FreeBSD. :)
    Having a mix of OS’s in our studio will only benefit the quality of our software.

    The reason why we’ve purchased Macs is mainly because Apple has sponsored the Blender Foundation with it. In the past three years we’ve received almost 10k USD worth of equipment, discounts and premier development support. This makes Apple – apart from internet bandwidth sponsor – the largest corporate sponsor we’ve got.

    BTW, Elcrapocrew: you’ll get 2 DVD’s with not only the movie (NTSC, PAL and HD) but also documentaries and all the production files and software we’ve created during this process. Everything! :)

  10. Joeri said on 18 Sep, 2005:

    I don’t see why an open movie should use an open o.s.
    The open o.s.’s don’t use open bios or open power.

  11. Elcrapocrew said on 19 Sep, 2005:

    Don’t worry Ton, I am going to buy the movie. That was decided long before I even knew about the extras on the DVDs. I just need some time to scratch the cash together. Anything I can do to help the open source community, Blender especially! I spend probably about an hour a day blending, as I have for about 3 years now. I still suck but I find it enjoyable and therapeutic all the same. Maybe if I can combine what is in my Blender 2.3 guide with what I can learn from the production files from this project, maybe…just maybe I can move on past the crap I have been making!:)

  12. Jerry Coopert said on 20 Sep, 2005:

    As far as i know, this Orange Animation is not an *open* movie. It’s a movie that try to develop and use opensource an crossplatform tools, to promote Blender as the king of these tools, and distribute all the work and all the know-how with a creative commons license. A completly *openmovie*, is another thing, i think.

    Generally, if this is the goal, using a lot of Apple sponsored tools, IMHO, it’s not the best way to be really *open*.

  13. Sunnan said on 22 Nov, 2005:

    AFAIK, Darwin’s license was changed and is now accepted by FSF, IIRC.

    But that still leaves the problem with cocoa (which has already led to snags wrt Xinput) and other non-free parts of the system.

    Apple sponsored an “open movie” so it should use non-free software? Apple, and what Apple are doing to the free software movement, scare me more and more each day.

    It’s fine that Blender works great on Mac OS X, I do encourage that.

    But it would be a point of pride to many in the free software movement with a movie that was made with as much free software.

    Often, when doing advocacy for different Free Software causes, someone will ask “But how about 3d movies?” And I’d have to embarrassingly admit “They did some of the texturing with proprietary software” (Seashore is free, Cocoa isn’t). (Even though there are plenty of interesting painting software available for GNU/Linux with X, such as MyPaint, Flexlay or Gimp.)

    Now, I usually don’t complain about what systems other people are using, and I normally wouldn’t. However, Orange has solicited donations and support from the community, and thus I do feel that the project needs to be very careful and very clear about the choices it makes, and to be careful lest they dilute the idea of what an open movie is.

    Like everyone else, I’m of course happy for the improvements to Blender that are resulting from the project. There are a lot of people, studios and groups that want to do justice to the idea of open movies, but not all of them have Ton and the others to improve Blender at such a marvelous rate. Major kudos, of course, but please, try to be as open as possible. I perceive Apple as somewhat hypocritical or at least problematic when it comes to free software. They like to pick the raisins from our free software cake and then sell us gilded chains back.