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Pixar's USD to go open-source in 2016

Ever wanted the ability to make your game as beautiful as a Pixar animated film? By summer of 2016, you can have the tools needed to do that - for free.

For years now, Pixar has captivated audiences with its astonishingly beautiful animated films - and it's used a unique proprietary tool to do so called Universal Scene Description software (USD). Now Pixar is looking to share that tool with the rest of the world by making it open-source.

According to Pixar:

"USD (Universal Scene Description) is an efficient, scalable system for authoring, reading, and streaming time-sampled scene description for interchange between graphics applications."

When it becomes available via open-source in the summer of 2016, the software will include:

  • embeddable direct 3D visualization provided by Pixar's modern GPU renderer, Hydra
  • plugins for several key VFX DCCs
  • comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and complete python bindings

What does this mean for indie game developers? As Guido Quaroni, Pixar's VP of software R&D explained:

"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."

The studio that brought you some of your favorite animated movies wants animators and game developers to have the same technology to make the games you play great - enter open-source USD.

What's that in plain English? It means that developers will be able to have multiple users that operate the same assets at the same time, even when those users are utilizing different digital content creation tools. It also allows developers to access these assets remotely, meaning that all members of a team need not be in the same physical studio at the same time - a strong advantage for small developers who want to expand their teams but have limited resources.

This isn't the first time Pixar's made one of their tools open-source, either; just last year, their Renderman tool, used to render complex 3D images, was made free to non-commercial users.

Want to know more about Universal Scene Description? Visit their site here.

We're excited to see what indie developers do with this new software. What about you? Let us know in the comments!

Published Aug. 15th 2015

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