Post Magazine

January/February 2023

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odern VFX studios must be agile, creative and tech-forward. One of the essential components driving the advancement of post production work- flows is Universal Scene Description (USD). At Goodbye Kansas Studios, adopting USD has greatly improved our production pipeline. USD is an advanced file format and framework developed by Pixar Animation Studios to streamline cross-artist col- laboration on scenes and assets. It's an effective solution for simplifying the VFX pipeline by enabling the interchange of 3D data from digital content creation (DCC) tools, including Nuke, Houdini and Maya. Initially developed by Pixar for in- house use, USD was made open source in 2016 and has since been adopted by major studios as an all-in-one collabora- tive framework. Adopting this framework at Goodbye Kansas Studios has been transforma- tive. Being able to store entire scenes and their components within the same file format has empowered us to work on the same scene in different depart- ments. This new form of collaboration has completely changed our workflow for the better. Over the course of the last five years, we have established a stellar USD pipeline using Chaos' V-Ray and building on top of Side FX's Solaris tools in Houdini. Since adopting USD, we have been able to revamp our production pipe- line. Gone are the days when producing elements of a scene meant baking data into alembics and pulling it from isolated DCCs. It is much more efficient to pull up an entire shot and have all the assets and information in one place. Before adopt- ing USD, artists would have to laboriously update each element of a scene. Now, changes to shots are made immediately thanks to stable assets, making it faster and more efficient to iterate on scenes with multiple shots. You can also render from USD directly, since it contains all of the information. Our recent work on the third season of Amazon Prime Video's Jack Ryan was one of Goodbye Kansas' first projects to benefit from this new USD pipeline. It was refreshing, for example, to do light- ing all in one go and distribute it to the whole team, and was a real eye-opener for us in terms of the possibilities of USD. By harnessing this new workflow, it be- came easier than ever to collaborate on entire scenes. USD has also changed the way we ap- proach projects — we now build specific templates and workflows to ensure effi- ciency. Each project takes us further for- ward, and our recent work on the "Father and Son" cinematic trailer for God of War: Ragnarök was our first to fully utilize USD. As a team, we are much more focused on pipeline. One of the key advantages we observed is that everyone could see everything in the same context. Lighting, environment artists and FX would all have access to exactly the same shot struc- ture from a USD file and not have to deal with shot-building tools, which could end up being different for all departments. With everyone reading the same data, it improves efficiency and teamwork. This also means any problems can be solved smoothly and quickly. Goodbye Kansas Studios is now in a position where any new show will be using USD going forward. We have been testing it on five projects, with the latest being the cinematic trailer for Square Enix's action RPG, Forespoken. We are moving in the direction that we think the industry is going, which is the complete adoption and standardization of USD. The potential of this is exciting, and we are ready to embrace the industry shift. For instance, if a new DCC is released that is compatible with USD, Goodbye Kansas Studios is in a great position to adopt it into our pipeline without painful upheaval. USD has the potential to be used across a range of industries and disci- plines. It is already being implemented in games, and has exciting possibilities for architecture and even the metaverse. We're in the middle of a workflow revolution — USD is changing how we exchange and visualize 3D data, and Goodbye Kansas Studios is excited to be a part of the conversation. Goodbye Kansas Studios has a team of more than 300 across studios and offices in Stockholm, London, Helsinki, Vilnius, Belgrade, Beijing, Los Angeles and Vancouver. WHY USD IS CRUCIAL TO THE MODERN VFX STUDIO BY DAN ENGLESSON, PIPELINE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR & ALEXIS ANDERSSON CG SUPERVISOR GOODBYE KANSAS STUDIOS HTTPS://GOODBYE KANSASSTUDIOS.COM/ CHANGING HOW STUDIOS EXCHANGE & VISUALIZE 3D DATA M WORKFLOW 32 POST JAN/FEB 2023 This God of War trailer was the studio's first foray into USD workflows. Square Enix's action RPG game Forespoken.

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