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Academy Software Foundation Adds MaterialX as Hosted Project

Initially developed by Lucasfilm, the open source platform is a key technology in the portability and transfer of look development assets between various applications and renderers.

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a foundation for open source software development in the motion picture and media industries, has announced that MaterialX has been accepted by the Academy Software Foundation’s Technical Advisory Council (TAC) as the seventh foundation-hosted project.

Originated at Lucasfilm in 2012, MaterialX has grown into the central format for material description at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) since the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The project was released as open source in 2017, with companies including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Pixar, Autodesk, Adobe, and SideFX contributing to its ongoing development. In recent years, it has been incorporated into widely used applications and standards including Maya; 3ds Max; Substance Designer; Arnold; Renderman; Autodesk Standard Surface; and Universal Scene Description.

“We initially developed MaterialX to solve a need we had across Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic to have truly portable assets, with look-development information that could be shared across applications, both for real-time and offline, but it's been even more exciting to see how it's been embraced by software vendors and pipeline developers alike,” commented Lucasfilm and ILM VP of technology Francois Chardavoine. “With MaterialX becoming an official ASWF project, we look forward to seeing that momentum continue to grow and help solve one of our biggest industry challenges.”

“Integration into the Academy Software Foundation marks an important step forward for the MaterialX project, broadening the lines of communication with closely-related standards such as OpenColorIO and Open Shading Language, and providing a strong platform for new studios, companies, and teams to contribute to MaterialX in the future,” added Jonathan Stone, senior software engineer at Lucasfilm’s Advanced Development Group and the lead developer of MaterialX.

“MaterialX is a crucial piece of technology as it addresses an industry pain point of smoothing the transfer of look development information between various applications and renderers,” noted Academy Software Foundation executive director David Morin. “MaterialX solves the need for a common, open standard in this space and represents an enormous value to end-users within animation studios, visual effects studios, and third-party vendors. With the support of the broader Academy Software Foundation community, we hope the ecosystem that supports MaterialX will grow, further validating the open standard within the industry.”

A key technology in the representation of materials in content pipelines for computer graphics, MaterialX’s capabilities for expressing physically based shading models and generating shading code have strong synergy with the ASWF’s Open Shading Language, and its interpretation of color spaces is closely aligned with the approach in OpenColorIO and ACES.

The Academy Software Foundation will maintain and further develop MaterialX with oversight provided by a technical steering committee, including members from Lucasfilm; Pixar; Sony; Autodesk; Adobe; Foundry; SideFX; NVIDIA; and Epic Games. All newly accepted projects start in incubation while they work to meet the standards of the Academy Software Foundation and later graduate to full adoption. This allows the foundation to consider and support projects at different levels of maturity and industry adoption, as long as they align with its mission to increase the quality and quantity of contributions to the content creation industry’s open source software base.

Source: The Academy Software Foundation