Animal Logic's USD Alab is a fully realised USD scene, intended to encourage further collaboration and exploration among the wider community into Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD). Animal Logic Group has now released USD Alab as open source software.
As an early adopter of USD, Animal Logic began transitioning their Sydney and Vancouver studios to an end-to-end USD based pipeline, starting during production on ‘Peter Rabbit’ in 2017 and completing with Peter Rabbit 2 in March 2020.
Seen earlier in their 2017 open source project AL_USDMaya, Animal Logic continues to promote broader USD adoption through the release of USD Alab, intending it to serve as a reference for many USD Concepts. “We believe USD to be a foundational tool for our industry and broader communities, and we encourage the release of open source assets to educate and inspire others to conduct their own exploration,” said Group Chief Technology Officer, Darin Grant.
While open source data sets exist aleady, USD ALab is one of the first real-world implementations of a complete USD production scene. It is a full scene description from global assets through to shot outputs, including referencing, point instancing, assemblies, technical variants, global assets and shot based overrides.
“There are two downloads available, including guiding documents and two sets of textures,” said Supervising Assets TD, Jens Jebens. “The first download contains the ALab scene assets themselves, derived from our production assets and conformed for compatibility to allow them to load in any tool that supports USD. The second download is an optional extra, a production rendering Texture Pack that delivers 4K OpenEXR textures with udims for production style rendering.”
“Beyond the USD assets, we’ve included documentation showing some new ideas and concepts from our experience using USD, including the idea of render procedural definitions, an extremely useful concept that we have not seen in USD to date,” Grant said. “We hope that this combination forms the starting point for future contributors to present their own ideas for discussion, promotion and, hopefully, adoption.”
“The ALab concept was born from Animal Logic’s Art Department,” said Head of Production Technology, Aidan Sarsfield. “Handed a brief for something ‘uniquely Animal’, the team came up with a great story that revolves around a secret backyard shed inhabited by a mad scientist of sorts. The resulting asset suite draws on the unique aesthetic that you’ll find in our studios, and there’s also some fun Easter eggs in there that link back to 30 years of the Animal Logic brand.”
USD ALab is also among the first sets of assets to adopt the Academy Software Foundation’s asset license. Animal Logic wanted to allow the broadest use of these assets to promote education, training and demonstration by students, studios and vendors. “Initially motivated by a desire to create unencumbered assets for our own demonstration and presentation purposes, we realised that the industry at-large could use something similar and pushed to release them,” Aidan said. “I’m excited to see how ALab develops in the community, particularly as we will be extending the data set over time.”