Pixar Animation Studios recently revealed plans to release one of its brand new filmmaking tools as an open-source project next year.
Universal Scene Description (USD) is said to be an effective way to describe, assemble, interchange and modify high-complexity visual scenes between digital content creation tools in use by various studios.
Pixar said the techniques for composing and non-destructively editing graphics “scene graphs” that form the core of USD have been evolving within the company for nearly 20 years, dating all the way to the 1998 release of A Bug’s Life. Despite the fact that it’s still under active development, Pixar said it has used the tool for nearly a year in the making of Finding Dory, the sequel to the 2003 hit film Finding Nemo, which is expected to land in theaters in 2016.
Pixar is arguably the preeminent leader in animation. As Animation Career Review notes, the studio was responsible for shifting the focus of the entire animation industry from 2D to 3D and shaping the industry in a way we probably won’t see again in our lifetime. The studio has earned dozens of Academy Awards for its films, generating billions in revenue in the process.
This won’t be the first time Pixar has offered its tools to the public. Last year, the studio made its flagship animation software RenderMan available free of charge for non-commercial use. The idea behind that decision and the release of USD next year is to give budding filmmakers access to powerful tools to help them get started in the industry.