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Pixar, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and NVIDIA Form Alliance for OpenUSD

This article is available in: French

Pixar, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and NVIDIA, together with the Joint Development Foundation (JDF), just announced the launch of the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOUSD). The JDF is an affiliate of the Linux Foundation and will host this alliance.

What is USD/OpenUSD?

As a reminder, USD was originally a 3D scene description technology developed by Pixar Animation Studios for their internal needs. It then became open source as OpenUSD. OpenUSD offers numerous advantages in terms of scene assembly, managing variations of the same asset, handling references, hierarchical scenegraph, non-destructive editing, etc. Which is why it has been adopted by an ever-growing number of studios and developers.
To sumit up, and as explained on the official website, OpenUSD is not just another 3D file format.

Why create an alliance?

The goal of AOUSD will be to expand the capabilities of OpenUSD, and thus also broaden its usage to standardize the 3D ecosystem. This, as explained by AOUSD, will ensure interoperability of 3D tools by facilitating data exchange and enable content creators and developers to manage ever larger 3D projects and develop new tools and services.

Indeed, it should be noted that even if the popularity of OpenUSD is growing, this standarization is far from over. At SIGGRAPH 2022, Pixar, Epic Games, and NVIDIA made it quite clear that the format still needs to mature to meet all the requirements needed to fulfill its ambitions. Many companies are still reluctant to transition to OpenUSD, are proceeding step by step.
For example, we interviewed last year Steve May, Chief Technology Officer of Pixar, who discussed current OpenUSD limitations regarding rigging, animation, surfacing, etc. VFX studio RISE emphasized its approach of gradually moving towards a full USD pipeline.

AOUSD: what’s to come & industry participation

To achieve its objectives, the Alliance for OpenUSD will primarily develop written specifications detailing the features of OpenUSD.

Furthermore, the AOUSD will provide a forum to define how the technology should be enhanced. AOUSD explicitely welcomes all companies and organizations interested in this task and in OpenUSD to join and participate, regardless of their profile/area of expertise: animation, VFX, BIM, video games, software developers, etc.
Cesium, Epic Games, Foundry, Hexagon, Ikea (which heavily relies on CG renders), SideFX, Unity are already announced as incoming general members.
It should also be noted that the AOUSD will have a sibling relationship with Academy Software Foundation (ASWF).

What about the roadmap?

At this stage, the Alliance for OpenUSD does not provide any OpenUSD roadmap. It’s a deliberate choice, as confirmed by Steve May. The CTO of Pixar, who will serve as the chairman of AOUSD, explains that the initial goal is to allow people and companies to join them and give some feedback, in order to work together.

For more information about AOUSD

Pixar USD - AOUSD announcement
Image of iconic OpenUSD scene “the Pixar kitchen” from clay render (left) to full-render (right).

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