Lucasfilm, SPI Update Alembic Exchange Formata

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Alembic is getting an upgrade.

Lucasfilm and Sony Pictures Imageworks announced improvements and updates to the open-source exchange format at SIGGRAPH 2012 in Los Angeles. The new version 1.1 replaces Alembic 1.0, which the studios released at last year’s SIGGRAPH and quickly became an industry standard for exchanging animated computer graphics between software packages.

Updates include Python API bindings; support for Lights, Materials, and Collections; as well as core performance improvements and bug fixes.

Feature updates to the Maya plug-in will also be included.

The code base for Alembic is available for download on the project’s Google Code site and more information can be found online at: http://www.alembic.io.

“We’ve been very grateful to see Alembic broadly adopted across the VFX and animation industries application providers and studios around the world. This new release continues to add requested features while maintaining the speed and compatibility the industry has come to expect,” says Rob Bredow, chief technology officer, Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Since Alembic’s 1.0 release, companies such as Autodesk, The Foundry, Solid Angle, Side Effects and Luxology have added Alembic support to their product lines. Software plugin provider, Exocortex, also has introduced a suite of Alembic-based plugins for all of Autodesk’s major content creation tools.

Dave Story, CTO, Lucasfilm, says,“Lucasfilm has continued to build its visual effects and animation pipelines around Alembic and it has helped us to greatly increase our interoperability. Support of Alembic by our third-party software providers is critical to Alembic’s success. We’re gratified to see the pace of adoption in the last year and will continue to invest ourselves as we forge relationships with third party solution providers.”

Also of note, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Lucasfilm have begun collaborating more closely with Autodesk on continued Alembic support within Autodesk’s products, initially focused on Autodesk Maya software. Maya 2013 took steps to integrate Alembic at a base level with the addition of Alembic-based GPU file caching.