All about Apple’s new USDZ File Format — Simplified
Apple at the WWDC Conference 2018, announced that it has developed a new file format, working together with Pixar, called USDZ Universal. This file will allow developers to create 3d models for augmented reality.
Why the new file format?
USD — Universal Scene Description, was developed by Pixar. The file has the ability to create a 3D scene by composing many sources files together into successively larger aggregations. This is great but this can be a problem using USD to deliver assets in the form that they have been built up. There is a no mechanism for representing images/textures as scene descriptions encodable in USD files. Also these assets can be delivered on a variety of systems and platforms if it is a single object, can be streamed and usable without unpacking to a filesystem.
Consider any Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, even though they are sophisticated to allow to host, manage and render assets, the assets need to be a single object. Overlays and layers maybe available on some systems (Like on Adobe experience manage by using Dynamic Media we can achieve text overlays). For 3d models, generally they are a combination of several objects (images and text).
To address these concerns and by leveraging USD, Pixar and Apple developed this new file format with the .usdz extension, which is a combination of several objects but can still be rendered as one object.
- Base: USDZ file is a zip archive
- Zip constraints: A USDZ file is a no compression, unencrypted zip archive
- File types: A USDZ file can contain only file types whose data can be consumed by the USD runtime via mmap. Initially this will only include the native USD file formats and a small number of image formats.
- USD Constraints: A USDZ file is read-only. Editing its contents requires unpacking the archive and editing its constituent parts using appropriate tools.
How to create USDZ files
- Vectary released an update to export 3D designs to USDZ. Learn how to create USDZ files here. (update October 2nd, 2018)
- No open-sourced/free tools yet in the market (as of October 3rd, 2018)
Sample USDZ files
- Download sample USDZ files on my github (update October 2nd, 2018)
- Introduction to USD
- Pixar’s open source github project on USD files
- Universal Scene Description Project
- USDZ File Format Specification
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