Pixar’s USD Technology Receives Scientific and Technical Award From The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Pixar Animation Studios is being recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a Scientific and Technical Award for their creation of Universal Scene Description, an open source production technology created by the studio that has become a standard across the industry.

What’s Happening:

  • Pixar Animation Studios is set to receive an award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in their Scientific & Technical category, recognizing their proprietary technology, Universal Scene Description (or USD).
  • Pixar shared the news on social media, saying “Congratulations to the current and former Pixarians whose outstanding work will be celebrated with the Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy's Scientific & Technical category! F. Sebastian Grassia, Alex Mohr, Sunya Boonyatera, Brett Levin, and Jeremy Cowles will be recognized for the design and engineering of Pixar’s USD technology.”
  • The Academy recognized the technology and those behind it, adding that “USD is the first open-source scene description framework capable of accommodating the full scope of the production workflow across a variety of studio pipelines. Its robust engineering and mature design are exemplified by its versatile layering system and the highly performant crate file format. USD’s wide adoption has made it a de facto interchange format of 3D scenes, enabling alignment and collaboration across the motion picture industry.”
  • Developed by Pixar, USD is the first open-source software that can robustly and scalably interchange 3D scenes that may be composed of many different assets, sources, and animations, while fostering highly collaborative workflows.
  • At Pixar, engineers work hand in hand with artists to create innovative technologies, tools, and pipelines that make their films. With USD, scenes like the one below from Toy Story 4 are possible.

  • In August 2023, Pixar announced the launch of the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOUSD), to promote the standardization, development, evolution, and growth of Pixar’s Universal Scene Description technology.

  • USD is foundational to the work going on at Pixar right now. Every character, every location, and every image of their  films is built on top of USD and is made possible by the technology in USD.
  • Pixar is designing and deploying the next generation of features for USD and its imaging framework Hydra and, with the investment and support of The Walt Disney Company, increasing their collaboration on USD with the growing USD community, new industries, and partners. Also helped by the fact that the technology is open source.
  • Pixar has a long history of creating foundational and innovative technologies in computer graphics and beyond and they believe that USD has much to offer in the growing challenges of collaboration in 3D world-building and delivering assets at scale.
  • For more about USD and its origins, check out our interview with Pixar’s Chief Technology Officer, Steve May.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.