October 29, 2002

GPL movie editing project gets grant from LinuxFund.org

- by Tina Gasperson -
Film Gimp, a specially enhanced version of The Gimp, has been used as an animation tool in Scooby-Doo, Harry Potter, and Stuart Little. Recently Film Gimp announced it has been chosen as the recipient of a $1,000 grant from LinuxFund.org.Robin Rowe, the release manager of the Film Gimp project says the money will be used in part to make improvements to the graphical user interface (GUI) and to create a macro recorder, which will allow users to record patterns of keystrokes and save them as named files.

In a recent press release, Linux Fund's Executive Director Jerritt Collord said Film Gimp was chosen to receive the grant because of its significance to the Open Source movement. In particular, Collord says Linux Fund is excited about the proposed GUI changes, "that will finally make it more accessible to users accustomed to popular proprietary software."

Sony Pictures' Imageworks, and Rhythm & Hues have made heavy use of Film Gimp, especially in films that use talking animals. Even the Coca-Cola "talking bear" commercials were created using Film Gimp, which runs on IRIX and Linux.

Rowe says that the Film Gimp user base is "quite small compared to The Gimp," which actually makes it easier to implement the GUI changes. "I have a lot fewer people that are going to say we want it this way, or we want it that way."

Originally Film Gimp had asked Linux Fund for $2,000, but Rowe says they were told "they don't give $2,000 grants. We're invited to come back next year and ask for another $1,000 grant. Basically I've cut in half what we'd planned to do."

For motion picture editors, Film Gimp is the Open Source alternative to Adobe Photoshop, but it provides benefits beyond simply being free and non-proprietary. "The thing that makes Film Gimp appealing is that it has made some accommodations to deal with hundreds of thousands of separate images, instead of just a few at a time." This is accomplished through the frame manager, a tool that Photoshop doesn't have.

The frame manager basically allows users to step backwards and forwards through frames (individual animation panels), and create "stores" or groups of frames that allow faster operations.

Rowe is an employee at MovieEditor.com, a company that, among other things, creates movie editing software. But, Rowe says, MovieEditor.com and Film Gimp have nothing to do with each other, since MovieEditor.com produces proprietary products and Film Gimp is licensed under the GNU General Public License.

Other movie animators such as Pixar and Dreamworks are running Linux, but are still using proprietary editing software like Maya, Houdini, and Renderman.

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