ILM Shares File Format

In an effort to establish a file format standard for the visual effects industry, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) has released its proprietary extended dynamic image file format, EXR, for public use.

OpenEXR is a 16-bit, floating-point file format with much greater dynamic range than existing 8-bit and 10-bit file formats and is fully compatible with Nvidia’s new GeForce FX and Quadro FX 3D graphics solutions. Its lossless data compression achieves compression ratios of 2:1 for scanned film images.

“Historically, the visual effects community and the motion picture industry have benefited from the creation of standards,” says Jim Morris, president of Lucas Digital. “OpenEXR is yet another step in this direction. By creating better standards in image file format, we hope that effects practitioners and software developers will have a more consistent and flexible base to build upon.”

According to Cliff Plumer, chief technology officer at ILM, the OpenEXR’s dynamic range of more than 30 f-stops without loss of precision, and an additional 10 f-stops at the low end with minimal loss of precision allow for a better digital representation of film.

ILM has employed EXR on films such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Men in Black II, Gangs of New York and Signs. The file format is currently being used on Dreamcatcher, The Hulk, Van Helsing, Peter Pan, Timeline and Pirates of the Caribbean.

For more information on OpenEXR, visit www.openexr.net.