Five big tech companies form alliance around OpenUSD for 3D metaverse graphics standard

Five big tech companies form alliance around OpenUSD for 3D metaverse graphics standard

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Nvidia Corp., Apple Inc., Adobe Inc., Autodesk Inc. and Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar Animation Studios today announced the formation of the Alliance for OpenUSD, which will promote the joint development of open 3D standards for computer graphics for the metaverse and large-scale 3D projects.

OpenUSD, also known as Universal Scene Description, is an open data format developed by Pixar to allow graphics artists to work together at scale on large 3D animation projects. The scene descriptor file format works as a natural way to share information about 3D objects and environments for use in virtual reality and augmented reality projects.

Pixar open-sourced the Universal Scene Description format in 2016 in a bid to make it the go-to standard for 3D workflows and it is now known for its suitability for collaboration and streamlining artistic expression and streamlining cinematic content. Methodology used in AOUSD date back to the production of Pixar’s film “A Bug’s Life,” where the film served as an inspiration for the file format’s collaborative capabilities allowing multiple animators to work together on the same scene at once.

“Universal Scene Description was invented at Pixar and is the technological foundation of our state-of-the-art animation pipeline,” said Steve May, chief technology officer at Pixar and chairperson of AOUSD. “OpenUSD is based on years of research and application in Pixar filmmaking. We open-sourced the project in 2016, and the influence of OpenUSD now expands beyond film, visual effects, and animation and into other industries that increasingly rely on 3D data for media interchange.”

The alliance will work together jointly with the Joint Development Foundation, an affiliate of the Linux Foundation, to promote the standardization of the technology.

Under the auspices of the founding members, the group will work towards developing a written specification for OpenUSD that will detail features for the standard for compatibility and wider adoption to open it to inclusion by other standards bodies. The group chose the JDF as a partner because it will smooth effective development of specifications for OpenUSD and open an avenue for standardization through the International Organization for Standardization.

Nvidia has long used OpenUSD as part of its push towards “metaverse” applications, virtual spaces parallel to the real one that simulates reality where people can interact, work and play. In particular Nvidia has been working on support for the industrial metaverse with the concept of digital twins, fully virtual digital assets that reflect real world objects in every detail including their physics. This is made possible using Nvidia’s powerful Omniverse tool, a real-time collaboration and simulation platform that allows artists and engineers to design and recreate the world at large scale virtually.

“OpenUSD gives 3D developers, artists and designers the complete foundation to tackle large-scale industrial, digital content creation, and simulation workloads with broad multi-app interoperability,” said Guy Martin, director of open source and standards at Nvidia.

The format will similarly find a place in the virtual reality and augmented reality markets, where Apple has recently released a powerful new headset, the Vision Pro, and the visionOS operating system that runs run it.

“Apple has been an active contributor to the development of USD, and it is an essential technology for the groundbreaking visionOS platform, as well as the new Reality Composer Pro developer tool,” said Mike Rockwell, Apple’s vice president of the vision products group. “OpenUSD will help accelerate the next generation of AR experiences, from artistic creation to content delivery, and produce an ever-widening array of spatial computing applications.”

With a greater availability of standardized graphics formats, the alliance hopes to foster the ability for more engineers and artists to work together to build virtual worlds for both industrial and entertainment applications.

AOUSD intends to provide a forum for not just the five big founding tech companies and the alliance is inviting as broad a range of industry participants to join and participate to shape the future of OpenUSD and advocate for the standard.

Image: Alliance for OpenUSD

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