I love Open Source projects! It has been a couple of years since I started following three open source projects that literally changed my way of thinking. I’ll start with Magic Lantern – an open source firmware for DSLR cameras. The guys at Magic Lantern do amazing things. They turned a Canon DSLR into a movie-making machine with top grade features such as RAW video, sensor crop for anamorphic shooting, full HD and 3K raw video modes. Moreover, ML has an active worldwide community, where people help each other, show off their work shots with ML, and contribute to the project development. While most of my commercial work was shot on Canon and RED cameras, I would happily shoot a commercial with 5d mark III and ML add-on. Unfortunately, ML firmware isn’t yet stable. Using it as a primary camera is a big risk, though I did give it a try on several small commercials and indie productions. Ever since I discovered the Magic Lantern Project I became an active member of its great community.
Here is the music video I’ve directed. I’ve shot it with 5d mark III and Magic Lantern on a vintage 2x anamorphic lens.The video was colored in 4K resolution. 4K was obtained by unsqueezing the 4:3 Full HD video back to CinemaScope aspect ratio.
The second Open Source project I follow is Blender 3d software. Blender is a nice 3d animation package which has tons of features that no other commercial packages could ever offer. It has advanced path tracing renderer, video editor, compositing editor, match moving module, game engine, OSL, python support and much more. All of it comes for free with a source code provided. Blender isn’t new software, though it is rarely used in serious productions due to its unconventional work practices and interface. I’ve contacted developers several times asking them to implement some of the basic features which are used by pro animators on a daily basis. My requests and suggestions fell on deaf ears, though I had a nice talk with Blender’s founder Ton Roosendaal. Blender has a big community of artists and programmers. I often visit blenderartists.org. The website has a nice forum and a cool gallery where Blender users showcase their art.
The product vis I’ve rendered with Blender and Cycles.
The third Open Source project I follow isn’t as exciting as the first two. Nonetheless it is a great project, perhaps the greatest Open Source Project that has ever existed. It is Linux OS family. Rock solid and complex at the same time, Linux OS is the most contradictory open source project I’ve come across. It is stable, reliable and yet very hard to learn and understand. As with the previous two projects, Linux has huge communities that maintain various distribution branches. One of the popular Linux distributions is Ubuntu – the most user-friendly Linux you can find. It has a pleasant interface and doesn’t require a lot of setup. Ubuntu is a desktop OS. That means it is geared for everyday use on laptops and PCs. Personally, I stick with Red Hat Linux deviations such as Fedora and CentOS. Fedora is an experimental OS which is constantly updated with new cutting edge technology, while CentOS is a solid enterprise grade OS. Since most of the commercial Linux software runs on Red Hat Linux, the software such as Maya, Renderman, 3delight, Fusion, Nuke and various render management systems work well with Fedora and CentOS.
These three open source projects give freedom to create, develop and to be a part of big enthusiastic communities. However, each open source project has its downsides. Magic Lantern isn’t stable, since it makes cameras do what they were not intended for. Blender, being a great 3d app, does not comply with industry work practices, and Linux is damn hard to master for a non-IT person. But with a little bit of patience and learning, these projects can change your daily life and open new creative horizons. Join the force.