Each year, tens of thousands of computer graphics professionals attend ACM SIGGRAPH’s annual conference, the largest computer graphics conference in the world. This year, SIGGRAPH was held over five days in August in Vancouver, Canada.
SIGGRAPH always gives me an opportunity to learn and see about all the incredible new things happening in our community. It is an amazing conference, and if you have an opportunity to go, I highly recommend making time to attend. You will walk away inspired and awed by what is happening throughout our industry.
This year, one of the biggest announcements was the creation of a new foundation, the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), that will be leading an open source software initiative.
The ASWF is the brainchild of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, after investigating the health of the open source community within the graphics and animation industry. This is what they found (which we’ve known all along):
- Often source software is used by 84% of the industry, primarily for animation and visual effects.
- Development is often siloed because projects are managed by different companies
- There is chronic “versionitis” of programs
- A central governing body for open source projects needed to be implemented.
To solve some of these problems and continue to improve and grow the industry, they decided that a central governing body was needed, and the ASWF was born.
For their open source expertise, The Linux Foundation was brought on to help form ASWF. The Linux Foundation provides support, including tools, training and events, for open source initiatives in every industry.
Additionally, multiple companies and studios have already become members to show support for the initiative. With their support, ASWF will be free for developers to participate in projects. Looking at the list of member companies and the governing board, I know that this foundation will be hugely impactful in our community:
- Andrew Pearce, DreamWorks
- Darin Grant, Animal Logic
- Dave Ward, Cisco
- Graham Jack, DNEG
- Guy Martin, Autodesk
- Hank Driskill, Blue Sky Studios
- Jim Jeffers, Intel
- Luca Fascione, Weta Digital
- Marc Petit, Unreal Enterprise
- Rob Bredow, ILM
- Todd Prives, Google Cloud Platform
- Animal Logic
- Blue Sky Studios
- Unreal Enterprise
- Google Cloud
- Walt Disney Studios
- Weta Digital
I am personally thrilled with this announcement, because I have been a big proponent of open source for the film industry for many years. It’s great to see many colleagues on the board, and we are happy to participate in the initiative. It drives innovation and opens up opportunities to smaller studios and individuals. Plus, having The Linux Foundation on board means that the ASWF will be able to take advantage of open source best practices and learnings.
My hope is that the ASWF will lead to even more collaborative development, enabling artists and developers to bring their ideas to life and to improve the quality of the software and tools we are all using every day. I have contributed to open source projects in the past, and I am excited to participate in projects on this new platform as well.
ASWF does not currently have any official projects, although they have indicated interest in OpenEXR, OpenVDB, and OpenColorIO. I am looking forward to seeing how we can contribute and help with these initiatives.