Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) announced the release of Alembic 1.5, their jointly-developed open-source system that facilitates the sharing of animation and visual effects scenes across multiple software applications. Alembic 1.5 includes new support for multi-threading, which, along with other new features, results in performance and efficiency improvements.
“In furthering the development of Alembic, our efforts this past year have focused on improving performance,” said Rob Bredow, CTO, Sony Pictures Imageworks. “With this new release, data sets are smaller; they are faster to read and write. The architectural changes we have made to support multi-threading are especially significant.”
“Alembic was put through its paces in production at Industrial Light & Magic this year, used extensively on every show we worked on from Avengers to Pacific Rim,” said Paul Ryan, ILM’s head of technology. “The ability to move our large scene data between multiple packages has become an indispensible part of our pipeline. New features, such as the faster back end and instancing are already proving their worth.”
Development of Alembic was first announced at SIGGRAPH 2010 and its first release was made public at the 2011 ACM SIGGRAPH Conference in Vancouver. The software provides efficient means for storing and sharing data across multiple software platforms, reducing what had been a source of bottlenecks in the production of animation and visual effects.
The system has been adopted by leading software developers, including Autodesk, Side Effects and The Foundry, and is used by visual effects and animation producers worldwide. Tools with native support for Alembic include Maya, Katana, Houdini, Arnold, modo, Cinema 4D, V-Ray, Nuke, Guerilla Render, RealFlow and Clarisse iFX.