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Pixar Demos Newly Open-Sourced OpenSubdiv Graphics Tech 140

Posted by timothy
from the world-improving dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last week at SIGGRAPH, Pixar Animation Studios announced OpenSubdiv, an open source implementation of the Renderman subdivision surface technology, thus releasing the patents to the long standing Pixar 'secret sauce.' In addition to the offline subdivision scheme, it also includes a GPU implementation. This video demonstrates a realtime deforming subdivision surface running at 50 FPS in Maya (though it is freely available to use anywhere). The source code is available on Pixar's GitHub account." Says the project's site: "OpenSubdiv is covered by the Microsoft Public License, and is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use. This is the same code that Pixar uses internally for animated film production."
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Pixar Demos Newly Open-Sourced OpenSubdiv Graphics Tech

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  • by rachit (163465) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @03:58PM (#40959561)

    Apparently they open sourced it over Steve Job's dead body.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @04:06PM (#40959633)
      So you suggest that they should have used the OSJDB Public License?
      • by BronsCon (927697)
        Yes, and to make it not completely obvious, we should expand it as Open Source Junk Distribution Blessing or some other such (I didn't want to stare at thesaurus.com's ugly-ass site for any longer than it took to find something that just barely worked for the B).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tooyoung (853621)

      Apparently they open sourced it over Steve Job's dead body.

      Of course, it's best not to let facts [apple.com] influence your opinion.

      • by iCEBaLM (34905)

        Man, you must be a hoot at parties.

    • by phrostie (121428)

      Will they give back BMRT now?

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @04:05PM (#40959611)

    "an open source implementation of the Renderman subdivision surface technology, thus releasing the patents to the long standing Pixar 'secret sauce."

    The Renderman Interface spec already contains how the subdivision surfaces are supposed to be described and computed, so we know how to do that. There are already other implementations. Moreover, publishing the source code does not "release patents" in any meaningful sense, not to mention the fact that patents are, by definition, public.

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @04:08PM (#40959661) Journal

      Moreover, publishing the source code does not "release patents" in any meaningful sense...

      Actually, in this case, it does. The Microsoft Public License has an explicit patent grant for all included technology.

      • Which means that if I write my own implementation, I'm still not covered. Well, it's just as well that I don't live in the US.
        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          IANAL, but since it specifies "derivative works" as being covered, I think you could write your own implementations, especially if you included even a tiny snippet of the original code. Might have to license it under the same license, though (again, not a lawyer so I'm not sure)

          • If you included a large enough snippet to have your work considered derivative, then it would also need to be licensed under the Ms-PL. Not sure why Balmer went all stupid over the evils of "viral" open source licensing, they wrote the same sort of beast themselves.
    • by tian2992 (1690038)
      Did you read the MS-PL? The licence they are using to release it includes a patent grant, and a potential protection on patent suits.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @04:11PM (#40959691)

      You should read the license. It includes a worldwide, royalty free license grant. It does indeed "release patents" with the small qualification that if you sue Pixar for patent infringement your royalty free license is automatically yanked.

      • You should read the license. It includes a worldwide, royalty free license grant. It does indeed "release patents" with the small qualification that if you sue Pixar for patent infringement your royalty free license is automatically yanked.

        Thanks to Patent Trolls (non practising entities) this retaliation clause means absolutely nothing, it's the prime function of Shell Corps. You want to sue Pixar? Just spin up a new Paper Person, toss some patent and moolah grants their way and sick 'em. What is Pixar going to do against such a non practising entity? They don't make anything, so they can't counter sue for infringement.

  • With the libraries open, it should be interesting to see what comes of it. It lowers the barriers to entry in the rendering package world... And no one can say it is not commercial grade code. :)
  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @04:49PM (#40959885)

    Our intent is to encourage high performance accurate subdiv drawing by giving away the "good stuff".

    I want to be wrong about this. I really do. But I read this as "our intent is to establish a tie to our proprietary products Renderman and Maya via a license carefully designed by Microsoft to be incompatible with GPL, and thus Blender."

    Well, this would be as good a time as any to point out that Maya is not the only game in town. There is Blender of course. And there is my as-yet-unannounced project based on a half edge meshing technology that is way superior to the creaky old infrastructure Maya relies on. There are already some great results in terms of high complexity meshes and excellent real time performance. So far it has been just me pushing on the code, but that should change pretty soon. Go here [phunq.net] to find out about World Welder. Check out some demo images here [phunq.net], here [phunq.net] and here [phunq.net]. Those are all high triangle count, high complexity meshes rendering at smooth interactive frame rates on low end hardware. There are various algorithms in use. The 3D Freetype Unicode fonts are done with Root3 subdivision, arguably superior to Catmull Clark favored by the Maya crowd. Still lots of work to do to implement boundaries, creases, deformable heirarchy and the like, but the base it's built on is solid as a rock. And really compact as well, yes sometimes you can have it all. Anyway, I will be making a more official project announcement in due course but for now, a tarball is online here [phunq.net]. I apologize in advance for the documentation quality, but not for the code quality. Please be kind to my server and don't browse all the images, it's just a cable modem with pathetic upload bandwidth. (By the way, sponsorship in the form of web hosting would be much appreciated.)

    There remains much work to do, sigh, there always is. But this is already the skeleton of a nice 3D meshing workbench, and it is time to put some meat on the bones. Language is C++11, scripting is Lua, GUIs are GLX and QT, revision control is Mercurial, license is GPLv3. Anybody who wants to join the mailing list is more than welcome, developers and future users alike.

    • Our intent is to encourage high performance accurate subdiv drawing by giving away the "good stuff".

      I want to be wrong about this. I really do. But I read this as "our intent is to establish a tie to our proprietary products Renderman and Maya via a license carefully designed by Microsoft to be incompatible with GPL, and thus Blender."

      You'll be happy to know then that you're likely at least partially wrong.
      First: http://www.blender.org/BL/ [blender.org] -- from this, you may conclude that their intent is to force Blender to activate the Blender License.
      Second: Blender is licensed under "GNU General Public License v2 or later" -- and that "or later" bit is key here, as the MS-PL is compatible with GPLv3, just not with GPLv2. The end result of this is that the code is compatible with any GPLv3 code *and* any GPLv2 code with the "or later" clause that is used with Blender libraries and derivatives. It should also be compatible with the LGPL.

    • by poly_pusher (1004145) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @05:22PM (#40960057)
      Being a 3D artist this does interest me. I use Modo, Maya, Zbrush, and Mudbox frequently and subd standard is very useful. Does your intended implementation share subdivision order Pixar's spec? Does UV smoothing result in identical UV borders? Currently this is a pretty big problem with multi-app workflows. For instance, a multiresolution mesh that has been smoothed in Zbrush results in different smoothing than a mesh that is smoothed with Pixar Psub subdivision surfaces in Modo. Even more confusing is that this difference also appears when comparing Mudbox to Modo. They both use the Catmull Clark subdivision standard however do not share identical UV smoothing. This can be overcome with linear UV's but that in itself causes problems for 2d texture painting. They do however seem to share point order from tests that I've done. Open-source subdivision technology originating from Pixar sounds like a wonderful thing that could alleviate some of the problems I mentioned. After all it's coming from the source of subdivision technology. Catmull Clark subdivision was created by Ed Catmull of Pixar and Jim Clark, co-founder of Silicon Graphics. Many of the custom implementations of subdivison surfaces I have seen cause a lot of problems on exchange. Modo's custom implementation of subd's prior to incorporation of Pixar Psub was pretty slick actually. It was fast, allowed for N-gons and supported some very dirty edge creasing. So it had big drawbacks when exchanging with other apps like Maya before they added Psub's. I guess my point in mentioning all this is that I hope what you are working on is capable of accommodating these kinds of needs, otherwise I and many other artists may not be able to use it due to workflow additions. Although it's very cool and I'd love to hear more about what you are doing.
      • Being a 3D artist this does interest me. I use Modo, Maya, Zbrush, and Mudbox frequently and subd standard is very useful. Does your intended implementation share subdivision order Pixar's spec? Does UV smoothing result in identical UV borders?

        Pixar compatibility is not a feature I intend to code myself, however anybody who wants to take it on is welcome. The World Welder meshing API is clean, powerful, efficient and nice to work with. Currently, there is no UV interpolation in the subdivision algorithms at all, that work is upcoming. Any acceptable interpolation must produce identical UV at matching borders, anything else is a bug.

        Open-source subdivision technology originating from Pixar sounds like a wonderful thing that could alleviate some of the problems I mentioned. After all it's coming from the source of subdivision technology. Catmull Clark subdivision was created by Ed Catmull of Pixar and Jim Clark, co-founder of Silicon Graphics.

        To tell the truth, Catmull-Clark was the first and worst of the crop of modern subdivision algorithms. It has terrib

    • by Lose (1901896)
      While its just a YouTube comment, it seems a Pixar representative made some comments of his own. Amongst them was one which explicitly stated that Blender can implement OpenSubdiv [youtube.com] if they wanted to.

      Of course the comment holds no legal weight whatsoever, but its an encouraging sign.

      A snip from that comment (emphasis mine):

      OpenSubdiv is a free open-source API : any software vendor can implement our code in their application, including Maya, 3DS Max, Mudbox, Mari or Blender. The implementation is based o

      • As you say, a Youtube comment means nothing. Let's see what the resolution with Blender is, and let's see just what the patent grant is. The truth could range anywhere from cynical manipulation to awesome gift to humanity. Frankly I've seen too much cynical manipulation to be awfully hopeful about the latter though.

  • by jackbird (721605) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @10:09PM (#40961411)

    Can you people stop pissing and moaning and hairsplitting about license terms and allow some discussion of what this tech means for the medium-term future?

    A few questions I'd certainly love to get answered from someone who's knowledgeable:

    -Is this the REYES algorythm?
    -Does it differ in important ways from the Catmull-Clark subdivision that's pretty much standard in off-the-shelf 3D software?
    -With the increasing prevalence of raytraced GPU/coprocessor rendering replacing rasterisation in near-realtime applications, is this tech now mostly irrelevant?
    -What are some things the release of this technology might make possible?
    -Does this have any impact on the patent encumbrance surrounding Renderman's nearly-free motion blur?
    -How much longer were those REYES patents going to last anyway?

    • Re:Jesus Christ! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @11:02PM (#40961639)

      "-Is this the REYES algorithm?"

      No

      "-Does it differ in important ways from the Catmull-Clark subdivision that's pretty much standard in off-the-shelf 3D software?"

      No. It is that exactly. But GPU accelerated so it runs in realtime.

      "-With the increasing prevalence of raytraced GPU/coprocessor rendering replacing rasterisation in near-realtime applications, is this tech now mostly irrelevant?"

      No. You still need geometry to render, whether you use ray tracing or not.

      "-What are some things the release of this technology might make possible?"

      Prettiness. In realtime.

      "-Does this have any impact on the patent encumbrance surrounding Renderman's nearly-free motion blur?"

      No.

      "-How much longer were those REYES patents going to last anyway?"

      Don't know. Off topic.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @11:08PM (#40961671) Homepage Journal

    There are currently 12 comments at +5 and only one talks about the software--the other 11 are about the license. Dropping down to +3 doesn't help any.

    Can anyone else here weigh in on the technology itself?

    • There are currently 12 comments at +5 and only one talks about the software--the other 11 are about the license. Dropping down to +3 doesn't help any

      You just noticed the first obvious bad result of using the MsPL. I suspect we're in for more of this. I'd love to be wrong about that but I'm not holding my breath.

    • by mapuche (41699)

      >Can anyone else here weigh in on the technology itself?

      Pixar's subidivision surfaces are very efficient in terms of graphic visualization, parametrization, deformation and texturing. Other implementations are significant slower. The Pixar video presentation at SIGGRAPH shows they work great in realtime, something important when you're doing animation. As an example, NewTek Lightwave Catmull-Clarck subdivs have serious implementation problems, something that can be solved with opensubdivs. Luxology Modo

  • So, will this give games that look like Toy Story?

    (Hey, it's been a while since anyone mentioned that, thought I'd bring it back just for old time's sake....although the demo video kinda looks like the jokes not funny anymore...)

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