VFX and Animation studios typically integrate off the shelf digital content creation (DCC) tools, such as Maya or Houdini, with in-house software and other 3rd party packages to create a connected end-to-end pipeline for their artists. Since the late 90's an increasing number of studios have started running a flavour of Linux as their primary OS for artist workstations for reasons of reliability, flexibility, cost, performance and as a natural progression from SGI's IRIX.
Due to the flexibility of the Linux platform, there are a number of different distributions on varying release schedules and this combines with software providers all having their own schedules to create a situation where DCC software packages are often released with different and incompatible dependencies. This complexity results in VFX studios requiring specialist expertise to integrate a pipeline around these dependencies or often even deciding against supporting Linux altogether.
In previous years Linux platform requirements for DCC packages has mostly been led by Autodesk's Maya and other vendors typically followed its lead. In the run up to SIGGRAPH 2013, the Visual Effects Society invited a group of major software vendors to create a working group to better align Linux support between them.
This initiative resulted in the VFX Reference Platform, a collection of major library and tool versions that are updated annually with the objective of being a common platform for all VFX and animation studios and software providers to target. Initially this effort has been focused on Linux only and is still being driven by a small number of software vendors. The longer term plan is to include more software providers earlier in the annual review cycle and also to create reference platforms for other operating systems.
The primary goals for the VFX Reference Platform are:
The VFX Reference Platform is updated each year following this schedule:
The VFX Reference Platform Working Group is made up of interested parties initially invited by the VES Technology Committee and currently has several members, two representatives from the VES and two each from three major software vendors. If a vendor or other organization would like to join the Working Group, please send a request with details.