In Post-Modern Post World, Two CG Giants Cooperate

In a post-production world now ruled by low-cost solutions, two formerly high-flying, high-end CG powerhouses and are getting together to boldly go where they never thought they would. Discreet and Silicon Graphics Inc., once the dominant force in computer generated imagery, are partnering to offer an open architecture system that will allow users to easily move across all platforms – Windows, Linux, Mac and Irix – without breaking a sweat.

In the past ten years, the economics, ergonomics and aesthetics of CG work has changed radically. In the early- to mid-1990s SGI and Discreet made almost all the rules because they had most of the technology. Their systems were closed, proprietary and expensive. But the rules of capitalism took care of that. Code-writers and animators, often bristling at the high-cost and high-handedness of CG software and hardware companies in general developed their own open systems that were much cheaper to buy and use.

With Discreet’s new relationship with SGI, post facilities will be able to use Discreet’s muscular and creative packages such as flame, inferno and flint in a much more fluid way. “The postproduction industry is moving from hourly rates to project-based assignments, which is making collaboration and file sharing really important,” says Discreet systems product manager Bill Roberts, quoted recently in The Hollywood Reporter.

Among the key products in the partnership is SGI’s SAN Server family and CXFS shared file system, all engineered to work with Discreet software. Of particular use to EFX houses working on major films with lots of complicated and data-hogging EFX is the ability of the CXFS system to store 18 exabytes of data. That’s enough disc space for 9 million feature-length films stored at broadcast quality levels of resolution.