Pixar Animation Studio’s Universal Scene Description to be Open-Sourced

Did you see that hover-board Lexus previewed last week? If its ever felt like the future, now is it! But it seems for every step we take towards living like the Jetsons, we also make life harder for ourselves, like creating at least a hundred different file formats for 3D graphics alone.

Pixar (you know the little animation studio responsible for the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Cars,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “WALL•E,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3” and “Brave”), hope to change that and have announced that they will be open sourcing their in house developed 3D scene file format known as USD or Universal Scene Description. Among the vendors helping to evaluate USD are The Foundry and Fabric Software.

“USD is an amazing opportunity for both software vendors and VFX companies; this type of common open standard drives the industry to greater innovation by focusing development and leveraging a wide community of artists and developers. We have been working with Pixar to evaluate USD since the beginning of the year and plan to use it as a key part of our future VFX pipeline.”
Damien Fagnou, Global Head of VFX Operations for MPC Film

The attempt at creating a universal 3D format, allowing scenes and assets to be moved seamlessly between all the major 3D software packages, is a noble one. We just hope it’s going to be more successful than the 2004 attempt of the 3D Industry Consortium (made up of a diverse group of companies and organizations, including Intel, Boeing, HP and Adobe) who created the Universal 3D format or U3D. The goal was to create a universal standard for three-dimensional data of all kinds, to facilitate data exchange. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Hopefully Pixar has the industry clout to make their USD format the industry standard, freeing up Artists to create great content without being tied to a single piece of software.

The USD format is set to be released in the summer of 2016. Learn more about the USD format here or read the full press release from Pixar.