Pixar open sources production animation code, patents
That's not stealing, it's downloading with style
Vid Disney-owned Jobs-derived animation outfit Pixar has open-sourced some of its production software.
Pixar started life as a software company and still operates a division selling its RenderMan wares, which have been pressed into service making innumerable films beyond the walls of Pixar itself.
The code released as open source is called Open SubDiv, and “... implement high performance subdivision surface (subdiv) evaluation on massively parallel CPU and GPU architectures.”
A simple translation of the above is that the apps help create very detailed surfaces on animated objects. The image below, for example, shows an object untouched by Open SubDiv at right, and a more detailed and precise version processed by the software at left.
Which means this release is not something for everyone. But Pixar has released the software under a licence permitting any commercial or non-commercial use.
Pixar's Manuel Kraemer told the Siggrpah conference last week that the code is used at Pixar and that a full release is due late in 2012. Kraemer also said the studio has decided to freely licence some of its patents to make it possible to use Open SubDiv without attendant angst about future legal worries.
Kraemer explains Open SubDiv and shows off some of the ways Pixar has put it to use, including in its recent Brave, in the video below.
The Open SubDiv code can be found here.®
Re: Pixar will miss Jobs like a fish misses a suntan
Now don't get me wrong-- I am by no means a Steve Jobs fan or apologist. In fact, I can't stand Apple products and have owned computers from just about every other company except Apple over the years because of it, including some from some of the more exotic companies such as Sun, SGI, and even DEC VAXstations. With that said, I don't think that you are giving Steve Jobs credit where credit is due. Did Steve Jobs found Pixar? I would argue against it. Did Steve Jobs create any of Pixar's software? No. Did Steve Jobs try to turn Pixar into a hardware business to sell Pixar Image Computers, almost to the detriment of the company? Yes. However, guess what Steve Jobs also didn't do-- he didn't run Pixar into the ground.
Now, at first this may not seem like all that big of a deal. A CEO of a company shouldn't be running their company into the ground after all. But now take a step back and look at the state of the technology industry today, where you have Steve Ballmer and his personal little "Wormtongue" Steven Sinofsky doing everything that they possibly can to run Microsoft into the ground, and how Léo Apotheker nearly ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground, and how Stephen Elop is trying to run Nokia into the ground, and how the last half-dozen or so CEO's of Yahoo! each brought Yahoo! a little closer to death, etc. Sadly, somewhere over the years the ability to not run a company into the ground has become an exceptional and rare skill for a corporate CEO.
As much as I hate to say it, sometimes knowing when to leave well enough alone at a company can be just as important as directing a company for a CEO, and Steve Jobs seemed to know when to leave well enough alone at Pixar. (Either that, or Steve Jobs was just so busy running NeXT, Inc. into the ground during the 90's that Pixar escaped his attention long enough to become successful despite him! LOL!). Either way, Pixar ended up flourishing while Steve Jobs was at the helm of the company, so you have to at least give him some credit for that. If it was another Steve (such as of the Ballmer, Sinofsky, or Elop variety) that ended up buying Pixar from George Lucas all of those years ago, Pixar might have ended up as nothing more than another little technical footnote in the history of the CG industry, such as Dave Poole's revolutionary company, Foonly, Inc., before it.
Pixar is a great group started by Lucas with some siggraph stars of the mid-seventies. They worked hard on Renderman but in the end they were a drag on Lucas operations and he sold them to the highest bidder Jobs.
Jobs bought Pixar, he did not create ANY software, think up any algorithms, or even work on any story lines. He did keep the money coming and insist on perfection in the product.
So this B.S. tag "Jobs -derived" means he owned Pixar and acted like a Producer or Chairman of the Board and nothing more.
Pixar will miss Jobs like a fish misses a suntan.
Without Jobs there would be no Pixar
You can't comment on Jobs without reading his biography by Walter Isaacson - which Jobs had no editorial input into and is a warts and all biography.
Jobs recognised excellence and backed Pixar to the hilt. He continued to back them financially even when he was running out of money. Even when Disney nearly borked Toy Story and then dropped the project Jobs put in his own money to keep it going. The release of Toy Story was a huge risk which turned into a massive success.
Lasseter readily admits that they needed someone with the balls of Jobs to sort out Disney when Disney tried to throw their weight around - the relationship between Pixar and Disney was very fractious at times. And it sounds like Jobs was fairly closely involved with the production of Toy Story.
In fact - Jobs maintained his commitment to Pixar even after he returned to Apple - and it is thought that the stress caused by his time at the helm of both Apple and Pixar lead directly to the illnesses from which he died.
I'm no Jobs apologist - basically he couldn't bear fools - but it sounds like if you knew your stuff and had the guts to tell him so then he respected that.
Jobs recognised there is more to life than money - and the world would be a poorer place without Pixar's films. He should be praised for what he did at Pixar.