AMPAS Launches Academy Software Foundation for VFX, Animation Development

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has teamed up with The Linux Foundation to start an Academy Software Foundation, aimed at providing a forum for open source software developers to share resources and collaborate on image creation, visual effects, animation and sound technologies.

Founding members include VFX houses, animation studios and entertainment software developers including Animal Logic, Autodesk, Blue Sky Studios, Cisco, DNEG, DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, Google Cloud, Intel, Walt Disney Studios and Weta Digital at the premier level, and software developers Foundry and SideFX at the general level.

The program was initiated by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council, following a two-year investigation into the use of open source software — meaning publicly available software — across the motion picture industry.

The survey found that more than 80 percent of the industry uses open source software, particularly for animation and visual effects. However, this widespread use of open source software has also created challenges including siloed development, managing multiple versions of libraries and varying governance and licensing models. Therefore, the ASWF aims to come up with a governance model, legal framework and community infrastructure that lowers the barrier to entry for developing and using such software. David Morin, who led the investigation, noted that the ASWF would provide "funding, structure and infrastructure" for this work.

“Developers and engineers across the industry are constantly working to find new ways to bring images to life, and open source enables them to ?start with a solid foundation while focusing? on solving ?unique?, ?creative challenges rather than reinventing the wheel,” said Rob Bredow, ?senior vp, executive creative director and head of Industrial Light & Magic and member of the Academy’s SciTech Council?'s Open Source Investigation Committee. “We are very excited to launch the Academy Software Foundation and provide a home for open source developers to collaborate?, regardless of where they work, and? share best practices ?which we believe will drive innovation across the industry.”

Bredow plans to discuss the ASWF as part of his keynote next week at CG confab Siggraph, where representatives of the new initiative will be in attendance.