SIGGRAPH 2011 is an exciting place to be this year. One of most interesting things, for us, is seeing the collaborative efforts and the resulting technology advances that come from them. One such announcement, Alembic 1.0, demonstrated to us just that. TurboSquid was fortunate enough to be invited to the official release of this new technology.
So what is Alembic 1.0? Put simply, this is a new open source exchange 3D format built from the ground up. It provides a standard for exchanging animated computer graphics scenes between content creation software and seeks to rival other open file formats such as OBJ, FBX and COLLADA.
The format, jointly developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Lucas Film Ltd, is specifically designed to handle massive animation data sets often required in high-end visual effects and animation. For example, Alembic 1.0 uses dramatically less disk space, as little as 1% of the resources consumed by a comparable OBJ file. This space saving allows artists to be more creative and improve overall workflow performance. Due to this the format is already in use on The Avengers, Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man feature films.
Alembic is also currently being supported by other major industry players including Autodesk, NVIDIA, Luxology and Pixar’s RenderMan, just to name a few. Autodesk Maya 2012, due out in September, will be one of the first software packages to officially support this new interchange format.
We are also planning to accept this file format soon and we will have more on this after the show.