Monday, June 09, 2008

Render Me This

Last week, I listened to the recent episode of the The Linux Link Tech Show, with special guest Campbell Barton - Technical director of Big Buck Bunny. Big Buck Bunny is an animated short movie created using Blender, a free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Blender is an incredible program maintained by The Blender Foundation. And, like many open source programs, it's completely free. Blender also has a huge community, lots of free training information, and The Blender Institute behind it.

I was really impressed that Big Buck Bunny was created in less than a year, but a fairly small team. Campbell Barton gives a good insight into the process that helped create Big Buck Bunny, and how it pushed Blender to increase functionality.

When I first heard of Blender, I took it as an alternative to something like SolidWorks, or possibly even Pro Engineer, but I may have been wrong about that. Then again, I could be wrong about being wrong. Either way, Blender tends to be used more for content creation than solid model design and engineering.

Today on the Linux Today news feed, I saw this article about the creation of Helmer -a 24 core, 48 GB ram clustered machine using a Helmer filing cabinet from IKEA- for just $3500 in parts. Many companies offer rendering server farms to accomplish this tasks for unbelievable costs, but Helmer (and I hear Helmer II is almost complete) can be put together by almost anyone with a A+ certification. There's even pictures of the building process and documentation on the Helmer page. I wouldn't be surprised to see Helmer Servers showing up at IKEA stores soon. What appeals to me is that Helmer might make an incredible Ubuntu LTSP Server.

A small company could use just one of these (probably the Helmer II at 50 Teraflops!), or even two or three, to produce animated movies like Big Buck Bunny.

So, watch Big Buck Bunny here, then buy the DVD!

Big Buck Bunny from Blender Foundation on Vimeo.

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