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Sony Participates In Open Source

With an increasing number of visual effects companies collaborating on a project together,  Sony Pictures Imageworks decided it was time to share some of their programming applications.

On July 30th, five technologies developed by Imageworks: OSL (a programmable shading language for rendering), Field3d (a voxel data storage library), Maya Reticule (a Maya plug-in for camera masking), Scala Migration (a database migration tool), and Pystring (a python-like string for C++) were released for public use in an open source program.

“This is our first foray into open source,” said Rob Bredow, Imageworks Chief Technology Officer.  “Sony previously released a program, and Industrial Light and Magic has had success introducing some of their programs to open source.  We’ve chosen programs that are strategic, that we think would be good for the industry to adopt and standardize.”

Open source is a non-restrictive licensing format that allows any individual to use, modify, and even rename a program under no consequence or penalty.

“A company can attribute their adaptation of this software to Sony Pictures Imageworks,” said Bredow, “but they are not required to.  We wanted to share some good will with other companies out there.  Over the last ten years, everyone’s been trying to one-up each other in getting new advancements out on the screen.  We have reached a point where we need to be more collaborative so people will understand and be able to utilize the various programs that have been created.”

Knowing basic programming used by a variety of effects houses allows for freelancer programmers to adapt to different systems more easily.

“The audience for this software is a very technical and sophisticated audience,” said Bredow.  “These five programs are essentially computer graphic building blocks.  It’s really only useful for programmers.  We hope it will help build communities of users.  Anyone who uses the software is welcome to obtain documentation explaining the program through our website.  We also have a mailing list where they may sign up for updates.”