Autodesk just announced that it is open sourcing RV, its Academy Sci-Tech Award-winning media review and playback software. As Autodesk open sources RV, it joins source code contributions from DNEG’s xStudio and Sony Pictures’ Imageworks.
RV contains professional-grade media player technology that allows visual effects (VFX) and animation artists, as well as production teams, to view high-resolution images and sequences in real-time. Filmmakers can also use RV to compare different versions of motion picture footage while they collaborate on projects.
Why open source RV?
Often software manufacturers prefer to keep their source code secret. Companies generally do not want their hard work to be used by their competitors for free. However, the open-source software model is different. An open source license for computer software allows the source code, blueprint, or design to be used, modified, or shared, albeit under certain defined terms and conditions.
In this instance, Autodesk is sharing the source code from its RV product with other industry leaders primarily to develop open standards. This is intended to encourage interoperability between the various software packages that designers and filmmakers use.
Unified open source toolset
It forms part of the Open Review Initiative. This is the Academy Software Foundation’s (ASWF) project to build a unified, open source toolset for playback, review, and approval of movie footage. Autodesk is a founding member of ASWF, which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) launched in 2018 under The Linux Foundation umbrella.
The organization’s objective is to encourage the use of open source software across the motion picture industry and encourage open standards and foster better global collaboration. Animal Logic Chief Technical Officer and AWSF board member Darin Grant explains:
“RV is critical to our animation pipeline, and this allows us to share our integrations with the industry. It’s similar to what we’ve done with Autodesk and Pixar to integrate our ALUSDMaya toolsets into the Autodesk-supported Maya-USD plugin. As they did with their contributions to OpenColorIO, Autodesk is once again demonstrating its commitment to open source by sharing foundational libraries and toolsets that will help push the industry forward.”
The entertainment industry currently has quite an active open source community. Some of these projects, such as ILM’s OpenEXR raster file format, have even been adopted widely across many other areas of computing too.
Visual effects and animation departments are continuously pushing the boundaries of visual fidelity and photo-realism. So they are often on the leading edge of developing new techniques to simulate the real world more realistically.
In recent years, the visual effects business has become increasingly distributed, with many different studios working together on the same films. Therefore, the use of open source software has become a useful way to develop open standards. These allow greater interoperability and collaboration between various studios and creatives.
About Autodesk RV
Autodesk acquired its RV technology from Tweak Software in 2015 and integrated it into its ShotGrid production management platform. This has eliminated workflow bottlenecks, enabled live collaborative review sessions, and supported teams in accelerating time to pixel during reviews. Autodesk will continue supporting RV commercially as part of its ShotGrid ecosystem.