Pixar open sources Universal Scene Description for CG workflows

Pixar Animation Studios has released Universal Scene Description (USD) as an open source technology in order to help drive innovation in the industry. Used for the interchange of 3D graphics data through various digital content creation tools, USD provides a scalable solution for the complex workflows of CG film and game studios. 

With this initial release, Pixar is opening up its development process and providing code used internally at the studio.

“USD synthesizes years of engineering aimed at integrating collaborative production workflows that demand a constantly growing number of software packages,” says Guido Quaroni, VP of software research and development at Pixar.

 USD provides a toolset for reading, writing, editing and rapidly previewing 3D scene data. With many of its features geared toward performance and large-scale collaboration among many artists, USD is ideal for the complexities of the modern pipeline. One such feature is Hydra, a high-performance preview renderer capable of interactively displaying large data sets.

“With USD, Hydra, and OpenSubdiv, we’re sharing core technologies that can be used in filmmaking tools across the industry,” says George ElKoura, supervising lead software engineer at Pixar. “Our focus in developing these libraries is to provide high-quality, high-performance software that can be used reliably in demanding production scenarios.”

Along with USD and Hydra, the distribution ships with USD plug-ins for some common DCCs, such as Autodesk’s Maya and The Foundry’s Katana.

 To prepare for open-sourcing its code, Pixar gathered feedback from various studios and vendors who conducted early testing. Studios such as MPC, Double Negative, ILM and Animal Logic were among those who provided valuable feedback in preparation for this release.

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