Foundry, Open Source & You: A Digested Guide

Open source technology continues to be a hot topic as 2020 marches on, and no wonder: the potential it holds for fostering more collaborative relationships throughout the industry and workflows across artists, teams and studios is undeniable.

In a nutshell, once a technology is open source, it’s open to everyone. A tool or program’s source code may be released under a few different possible standard licenses in the industry, to which the public is given access, often without any strings attached. Organizations are given the opportunity to write and support their own bespoke software, before freely sharing this with other organizations, without having to pay a third party license. 

The benefits of this are immediately tangible, and thoroughly explored in this article in driving the move towards open standards. Open source technology is capable of connecting multiple areas of the pipeline and different systems together, allowing data to flow efficiently throughout—from standard file formats, to integration between applications, to machine learning models in Foundry’s own Nuke, and beyond. These principles pair perfectly with our efforts to put power back into the hands of our clients to help them fulfil their creative vision, faster.

Read on to find out the ways in which open source technology powers up Foundry’s product portfolio and research initiatives—and what this means for you.

Cracking collaboration wide open

Customization, flexibility and modularity form an intrinsic part of the DNA of Foundry’s tools, empowering teams to work together whilst saving them time, so they can spend it doing more of what matters.

Underpinning all three Foundry tenets are open source philosophies and technologies, which not only allow developers to extend our tools in a way that suits their team or pipeline, but also act as a main driver behind initiatives like the ASWF, of which Foundry is proud to be partnered with in upholding collaborative content creation across the industry through open standards.

Given the importance of file formats for moving data across a pipeline, open standards are a critical component of open source technology. They prove integral to the way the visual effects and animation industries work in encouraging open and easy collaboration across teams, studios and pipelines. That’s why support for standards like OpenEXR, OpenColorIO and OpenImageIO is rock-solid in Foundry tools Nuke, Mari and Katana, as Simon Robinson, Foundry’s Co-Founder, explains here.

An emerging key player amongst open standards is Universal Scene Description (USD). We’ve already written about how it’s set to change the face of VFX—and USD has certainly lived up to this forecast, proving pivotal in encouraging smart, collaborative and parallel department workflows, which are themselves crucial to realising creative intent quickly with real-time feedback.

That’s why Foundry helped Pixar port USD/Hydra to Windows in 2016, and was the first to adopt Hydra for a viewport in Katana 3.0 in 2018. In January 2020, Katana 3.5 shipped with ready to use USD plugins with the code open-sourced on Foundry’s Github. All of this enhanced Katana’s renderer agnostic workflows, allowing studios to set up, experiment and build powerful USD production pipelines.

You can check out the full range of open-sourced USD plugins available for Katana here. Alongside these, we’re working on USD plugins for Nuke that will eventually be open sourced as well—watch this space. 

Hassle-free creativity

For Foundry’s product teams,

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