This week, Pixar Animation Studios announced its intent to make its Universal Scene Description software an open-source project, and free.
Expected to roll out by summer 2016, this software will help animators and filmmakers better streamline production, allowing them to input from animation apps to combine objects into one "scene graph." According to Pixar, the techniques at the core of USD date back to "A Bug's Life," nearly 20 years ago. The software makes it possible for multiple animators to work on the same scene without conflict or one animator to use content from multiple animation sources. "One of the key aspects of Pixar's pipeline is the ability for hundreds of artists to operate simultaneously on the same collections of assets in different contexts, using separate 'layers' of data that are composited together at various production stages. USD generalizes these concepts in an attempt to make them available to any DCC application," explained Guido Quaroni, Pixar's VP of Software R&D. Pixar has made snapshots of USD available for other companies, including film and animation studios, and will make the software publically available by next summer. Pixar is still developing and optimizing USD at this time.
USD is not the first in-house Pixar software to make its way to the public. Last year, Pixar made its proprietary animation software RenderMan free for non-commercial use. RenderMan helps animators and filmmakers create complicated 3D images. Animators hope the USD launch will go smoother than RenderMan's public debut. Pixar announced its intention to release RenderMan in June 2014 but the software didn't become available until March 2015.
Photo: © Disney.