The movies are going open source.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Linux Foundation today launched the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) to provide a neutral forum for open source software developers in the motion picture and broader media industries to share resources and collaborate on technologies for image creation, visual effects, animation, and sound.
That makes sense, considering the high costs of developing films and the role that digital artistry plays in making the filmmaking process more efficient.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Linux Foundation for this vital initiative that fosters more innovation, more collaboration, more creativity among artists and engineers in our community,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, in a statement. “The Academy Software Foundation is core to the mission of our Academy: promoting the arts and sciences of motion pictures.”
The ASWF is the result of a two-year investigation by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council into the use of open source software across the motion picture industry. The survey found that more than 80 percent of the industry uses open source software, particularly for animation and visual effects. However, this widespread use of open source has also created challenges, including siloed development, having to manage multiple versions of libraries (“versionitis”), and varying governance and licensing models. Those need to be addressed in order to ensure a healthy open source ecosystem.
“Open Source Software has enabled developers and engineers to create the amazing visual effects and animation that we see every day in the movies, on television, and in video games,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, in a statement. “With the Academy Software Foundation, we are providing a home for this community of open source developers to collaborate and drive the next wave of innovation across the motion picture and broader media industries.”
The mission of the ASWF is to increase the quality and quantity of open source contributions by developing a governance model, legal framework, and community infrastructure that lowers the barrier to entry for developing and using open source software.
“Developers and engineers across the industry are constantly working to find new ways to bring images to life, and open source enables them to start with a solid foundation while focusing on solving unique, creative challenges rather than reinventing the wheel,” said Rob Bredow, head of Industrial Light & Magic and a member of the investigating committee. “We are very excited to launch the Academy Software Foundation and provide a home for open source developers to collaborate, regardless of where they work, and share best practices, which we believe will drive innovation across the industry.”
The foundation will coordinate cross-project efforts, establish best practices, and share resources. It will develop a continuous integration and build infrastructure to enable reference builds and provide a clear path for code contribution — streamlining development for build and runtime environments and providing more consistent licensing.
“In the last 25 years, software engineers have played an increasing role in the most successful movies of our time,” said David Morin, project lead for the Academy Open Source Investigation, in a statement. “The Academy Software Foundation is set to provide funding, structure, and infrastructure for the open source community so that engineers can continue to collaborate and accelerate software development for moviemaking and other media for the next 25 years.”
The group will talk about its role at the Siggraph 2018 computer graphics event in Vancouver, Canada next week.