The Academy Software Foundation kicked off a pair of projects on the opening day of CG confab SIGGRAPH: The Open Review Initiative, aimed at developing an open source toolset for playback, review and approval of motion picture and other entertainment media; and the Digital Production Example Library, which will make production-grade sample content available in order to test developing hardware and software.

Formed in August 2018 as a partnership between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation, the Academy Software Foundation is a neutral hub for the development of open-source software (meaning publicly available software) used in areas of the entertainment industry such as animation, visual effects and sound.

The new Open Review Initiative stems from the foundation’s Review and Approval Working Group, which was formed in 2021 in response to the way in which COVID-19 was reshaping production workflows. The group’s goals were to investigate the state of playback and review systems, and to explore the opportunity to create a common set of tools.

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The Initiative will be guided by a steering committee with representatives from software developer Autodesk, and VFX companies DNEG and Sony Pictures Imageworks. As part of the effort, Autodesk is making its RV review and playback software available as an open source tool. Similarly DNEG’s xSTUDIO and Imageworks’ itView review and playback applications will be available as open source software.

“The review and approval landscape encompasses a deceptively large amount of interconnected systems – including playback, production tracking, asset management, editorial integration, transcoding, transport and annotations,” says Erik Strauss, who will chair the Open Review Initiative. “Each of the code contributions from Autodesk, DNEG and Imageworks bring significant value and address different areas that we aim to incorporate into a best-in-class system. Their convergence over time, driven by a shared vision and contribution strategy, is the most efficient approach to solving the needs of the whole creative community.”

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The foundation’s new Digital Production Example Library was created as a vendor-neutral platform for test content with a uniform license agreement available to developers, researchers and educators.

One of DPEL’s first hosted assets is the American Society of Cinematographer’s recently completed Standard Evaluation Material II (StEM 2), which comprises a 17-minute short film, The Mission, that was designed to stress-test image processing and exhibition systems, including high dynamic range and high frame rates.

Additional assets hosted by DPEL at launch include Intel’s Volumetric Clouds Library, the assets for an animated character from Amazon Web Services, and Animal Logic’s ALab Phase 2 production scene. (Last month, Netflix acquired animation studio Animal Logic).

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