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26 cgw j a n u a r y • f e b r u a r y • m a r c h 2 0 2 4 I n the ever-evolving realm of visual effects and animation, innovation is the key to stay- ing ahead of the curve. Uni- versal Scene Description (USD) stands out as the next great shi in technology, promising a trans- formative impact on pipelines across the industry. However, its widespread adoption is yet to unfold. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of USD, ex- ploring its history, functionality, and why it represents the future of animation and VFX pipelines. Developed by Pixar Animation Studios, Universal Scene Descrip- tion is an open-source file format designed to streamline the ex- change of 3D graphics data among different applications. Originally created as an internal tool for Pixar's animated feature films, USD has evolved into a versatile solution applicable to a broad spectrum of visual content creation. Some background USD traces its roots back to Pixar's need for a more efficient pipeline that could handle the vast amount of data it saw during the produc- tion of complex animated films, like Brave and Monsters University. Pixar's initial implementation addressed the challenge of managing massive datasets and facilitating collaboration among artists work- ing on diverse aspects of a project. As the demand for richer, more intricate visual effects grew industry-wide, Pixar recognized the po- tential for USD to become a standard in the broader VFX and anima- tion community. In 2016, Pixar released USD as open-source code with the hopes that it would become the gold standard for VFX pipelines. USD's core functionality revolves around providing a robust framework for representing, storing, and exchanging 3D scene information. Unlike traditional pipelines that rely on proprietary file formats, USD uses a layer-based approach, allowing multiple layers of data to coexist in a single scene. This enables artists to work simultaneously on different aspects of a project without conflicts. The traditional pipeline approach oen involves dealing with mul- SPOTLIGHT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT USD IF THE SHIFT IS INEVITABLE, WHY IT IS TAKING SO LONG? BY ROSS DELCONTE MANAGING DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER, HERO NEXT DOOR Ross DelConte

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