Pixar Animation Studio's Universal Scene Description to be Open-Sourced
Don’t let it be said that animation requires secrecy. As a case in point, Pixar, the Academy Award-winning film studio and wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, announced recently the intention of making available an open source software said to simplify animation for small studios looking to make their movies look like "the big boys.”
The groundbreaking software is called “Universal Scene Description" (USD). It is designed to gather in content from a multitude of animation programs and present a single view, eliminating the need to access varied applications in order to perform multiple functions. USD is a unified system for representing both primatives and aggregating assets so as to enable concurrent CG workflows. Use of USD is seen as streamlining the animation process, so as to allow the industry to focus on development and access of the community of artists and developers.
"USD is the marriage of Presto's 'composition engine' to lazy-access cached scene description, with top-to-bottom enhancements for scalability and leverage of today's multi-core systems effectively," says Sebastian Grassia, Lead Engineer for the USD project.
Early USD snapshots have been shared with a number of industry vendors and studio, including The Foundry and Fabric Software, MPC Film and Double Negative. "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,” says Damien Fagnou, Global Head of VFX Operations for MPC Film.
While still under active development and optimization, USD has been in use for nearly a year for the making of "Finding Dory," Pixar’s sequel to the highly successful (and beloved) animated movie, "Finding Nemo." Plans are for USD to be released as an open-source project by summer of 2016.

Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture. Past accomplishments include editing of home theater and video gaming publications domestic and international, operating a NY photographic studio specializing in children/product and providing graphic imaging for video game box art, manuals and related.