I got myself out of bed at ~9.15 to take a quick shower and make it down for Milton's keynote at 9.30. I was here at 9.35 and the previous keynoters are still on. They blow. I don't know what they talk about, but it's really boring.
Nathan is introducing Milton know. "He is going to talk about open source, you know blah blah blah and Lord of the Rings [applause]".
Milton goes on. "How many here saw the first movie". Lots of hands up. "Okay, so how many didn't see it?" A few hands goes up.
After that he showed the new trailer for LotR II. Talk about crowd pleaser!
He tells about technical things. Each frame is 12MB. They have 20TB storage online on NetApps. Almost 300 workstations (2/3 Linux, 1/3 SGI) for the modelers and designers. They have ~1300 CPUs in the render farm.
Now he is showing lots of examples of evolving the movie from normal shots to shots with creatures. Before that he showed how "forced perspective" works to make some guys look really really tiny while having other actors be normal size.
Each CG generated creature has several GB of textures which are accessed by hundreds of machines at a time; so one of their big problems is actually read performance.
Now he is showing how they made the balrog and the fire simulation which is really hard. The balrog and the fire was getting so much data that the Linux boxes were (almost) crashing.
He shows digital doubles. We get told about what software they use and that it's for Linux (so they can use it).
Question from the audience about a scene he showed: "so this is all digital". "Yeah, this is pretty much all digital. All of it except for the shot in the end, which is a miniature".
Hehe, this is cool. Peter is doing virtual reality camera work. He walks around in a big empty room with goggles on and a camera in hand to "film" in a virtual world.
Their gcc optimized Linux version of some of the software is 3 times faster than it was on Irix. Noone listened to that though because he showed a funny scene while talking about it. He says everyone in the industry has moved from Irix to Linux in the last few years.
He shows a bunch of different tools called things like "Elf-_Sword_Agent-PrePro v. Massive-38". Very cool.
open source in vfx
perl is the primary tool. [applause] Tcl/tk they use for GUIs. mysql. apache/php. java. python.
They are all about quality; so if they get better quality buying something they do so, but he prefers open source. He thanks CPAN module authors, says it has been very important for the movie. Neato.
Someone asks if they could give financial support for open source and he tells that they are a really small company actually. Most people are just contracted for the project; and if there's no new work from Peter after they are done with LotR Weta (the company) will actually cease to exist...
Very cool keynote! People didn't even IRC much, that's how cool it was.