Free is the new black as influential software packages from Dreamworks and Autodesk pivot to open source and vfx pipeline products from AWS Thinkbox are now free to download.
As we head into the kind of global financial uncertainty that could rudely wake up a significant portion of the world’s population, not to mention the production and special effects industries, some of the big companies are responding by making sure their products are more widely distributed than before.
The news that Autodesk is sourcing open source for VR, its award-winning media playback and review software, was one of the surprise announcements that heralded the launch of this year’s Siggraph. The PR who published the news rightly spoke of “democratization of access” and help promote open standards, and framed it in the context of another major open source announcement from the Academy Software Foundation.
This Open Review Initiative is a new project led by contributions from member companies Autodesk (see above), DNEG, and Sony Pictures Imageworks, with the goal of creating a unified open-source toolset for movie playback, review, and approval and associated professional media.
VR Code will be a key part of this initiative, as it has been for Autodesk’s ShotGrid production management platform since its initial acquisition by Autodesk in 2015.
It wasn’t the first big open source announcement of the week, that honor belonged to DreamWorks Animation who said they were going to make their in-house render engine, MoonRay, open source.
MoonRay is DreamWorks’ state-of-the-art Monte Carlo ray tracer and has been used on a pretty stellar list of titles such as How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Croods: A New Era, The villainsand the next Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. It was developed in-house and includes an extensive library of production-tested physical materials, a USD Hydra rendering delegate, and multi-machine and cloud rendering through its distributed rendering framework, Arras.
It’s a big problem. As well as being able to deliver that signature Dreamworks look, it’s also capable of photorealistic work as you can see below, will work well in a standard production pipeline, and this Hydra delegate will ensure that it will work inside the likes of Houdini and Foundry’s Katana. It will get its open source version later this year.
MoonRay from Dreamworks does photorealism as well as animation
And finally, while there are plenty of industry giants, one of the biggest of the lot, AWS, has made its Thinkbox software products available for free download to anyone with an AWS account. 50,000 licenses are available for each of the products, which are:
- Render farm management software that helps studios optimize and scale their compute resources
- Draft for simple post-render compositing tasks
- Krakatoa Volumetric Particle Rendering Toolbox
- XMesh mesh caching solution
- Frost to generate a unique mesh from particles
- Stoke, a particle simulation tool.
Usage-based licenses for Deadline and Krakatoa are also offered at zero dollars on the Thinkbox Marketplace, which means you can get render time for Deadline and Krakatoa for free on the AWS Thinkbox Marketplace.