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Sony Imageworks releases 5 projects as open source


open-source-imageworksSony Imageworks have released five of their in-house tools as open source software.

CTO Rob Bredow writes:

Open Source: It's always been a part of what makes Imageworks tick. However, up until now we haven't had a chance to contribute back to the open source community. We're beginning to change that now.

We've chosen 5 projects to release as open source. This software can be freely used by large and small studios around the world. We've intentionally chosen popular non-restrictive licensing models to help ensure you have lots of options.

Each of these projects have passionate people behind them who are interested in seeing the code widely used. We're into the idea of building small development communities around this code. If you're interested in contributing, join the respective mailing lists and introduce yourself.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with Imageworks' open source offerings. I hope you find something useful.

The five packages they've released are:

  • OSL – Open Shading Language
  • Scala Migrations – Database Library Manager
  • Field3D – Voxel Data storage library
  • pystring -Python String Handling in C++
  • Maya Reticle - Flexible camera guides for Maya

The packages are all licensed under a BSD license. You'll find more information on their website.

I think this is an awesome move by Sony Imageworks, even if I can't judge the quality or usefulness of these packages yet. What do you think? Can Blender benefit from this?

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender – I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-)


  1. Sony already contributes to Blender with the excellent Bullet Physics Engine. I love to see companies doing open source instead of patenting ideas. Its the right decision for all of us.

  2. Hmm...
    Depending on the current state of Volumetrics, Field 3D could be quite useful and the OSL could be combined with GLSL? (If it's useful to combine two shaderlanguages xD)
    Or there could be an alternative switch, using either of them...

    Even if not, this seems very nice :D

  3. Lol. hahahaha....
    A new trap, sony rootkits for Blender...

    Remember, open source, isn´t always equal free software, once incorporated into free software, it could be used as a trap...
    Always be carefull of that.

  4. A nice move for Sony, and for the rest of the open source community! :-) If more can agree on standards, I think that's better for all of us. The more Blender operates interchangeably with other software, the better. I'd like to see blender integrate some of these things, so long as the licensing works out compatibly with Blender's license.

    What Jiri says about the repository being empty seems a little disappointing though.

  5. @Ivan Paulos Tomé

    The code was clearly released in BSD style. One suggestion, please do not advocate free software idea when you don't even know what it actually is coz it makes us free software supporters look worse than it already is ;^)

  6. @Ivan Paulos Tomé

    there's no trap or something. the codes are in BSD license, which is very liberal (In case you didn't know, it's more liberal than blender's source code license). If any of them is useful for blender, we can take them. Even if sony closed them again (read: doesn't release the new versions as open source), we can still use their released codes without worries. and sony could do nothing about the released codes or the users of those codes.

    Nothing to lose here. Only gain.

    and don't forget to take a look at OpenEXR, an hdri library from ILM. It has similar licensing.
    And it's part of blender already.

  7. Heh, If only they would do the same with their PS3 Kits. When will we begin to see a true open console platform?

  8. milawynsrealm on

    I don't think that this is a Trojan horse. If I remember correctly, Blender itself used to be in-house software too. While the company that supported it wasn't as big as Imageworks, it was a company none the less. If NaN was as big as Imageworks is today, would we be as skeptical as for them to be releasing such a program to the public? Although Imageworks doesn't have the financial troubles that NaN did, open sourcing certain applications/libraries might be relieving financial burden, or simply giving room on development and innovation without adding on to their budget.

    For them to be wanting to open source some of their code and then claim copyright infringements would be counterproductive on their part. For one thing, it's all in-house software. That means that they have no competition with other animation studios except for the products that they produce. The software itself, isn't being sold, but used by people who simply need tools. And with the power of peer review, that would make the products more stable and powerful, and might give them the edge they need to create movies faster without their systems crashing. From a strategic standpoint, being the first large, animation house would bring many benefits both to the community and to the company itself.

  9. Oh and that is interesting thing :P

    No worry something which is released can't be taken away :P and BSD license can be placed in the same bag with GPL license co it can be used in Blender, as well as in commercial projects.

    But i don't know if it can be useful I'm not a programmer :P but Bullet is useful.

  10. The subversion repositories will be empty until after Siggraph, when those projects will be presented. Code will be released afterwards, as stated on the Imageworks homepage.

  11. Keep in mind that this is Sony Imageworks, (a specialty brach working in a niche market, in this case special effects) not SEC (The consumer and entertainment branch that has screwed things up in the past). Very different group. As far as I can tell, they wouldn't have any reason to screw people over. Instead, by releasing their stuff, they help the community, and themselves. It's like ILM opening up EXR.

  12. Great move, makes me proud of the guys on the Sony team that made this happen. Kudos to you!

    Its nice to see large companies recognising their use of open source and wanting to contribute back. Slowly but surely the industry is starting to get it. =)

    Great day. BSD licence does the job, not my favourite, but still good! =)

  13. As I said when I suggested this news I think blender could benefit from OSL. After all, blender is one of few 3D rendering packages that does not support some kind of shading language. What better than an open language? Ok, maybe GLSL would be good enough (and even OpenGL Hardware accelerated)? I don't know.

  14. Ed: I'm sorry. I really am, but this is how people react to things they don't understand.

    As for the rest of it, Thanks Sony. I like Sony's CG work. In mostly like how... it doesn't look like a company that doesn't know they're not Pixar.

  15. Considering that Blender started as an in house tool that was released and now enjoys such widespread popularity I would say that Sony Imageworks' projects may have potential.

    In the end the quality and ergonomics will decide whether an active user base adopts and expands development.

  16. Tom (not Ton) on

    @ Experiment Garden. NaN wasn't tossing out rootkits.

    It's a nice gesture, but frankly I don't think it's any different from a computer manufacturer, say Apple, giving schools a great deal on computers for their labs.

    It creates a certain percent of users who they hope will eventually benefit them in some form or fashion. In the case of Sony here probably through either development, improvement, or users who might become future employees.

    It's good business, but it is business. I'm happy to see someone doing this kind of thing, even with their parent companies tainted image.

  17. From the looks of it, Field3d seems to be an extremely interesting project. Can't wait to see it integrated with the smoke and fluid simulators!

  18. Oooh, me likey pystring...

    For those who don't know, the BSD license is only one small step removed from releasing code into the public domain - I really don't think we need to worry about entrapment!

    Will be interesting to see if any of these projects wind up being incorporated into Blender, OSL and perhaps Field3D would be my pick for having the most potential.

  19. Tom (not Ton):

    That's how the open source/free software movement works. It's all about giving and taking. Most people just takes... SPI gives. How does that make them bad?

    These accusations pops up any time some company releases something for free, and I'm getting sick of it. Just take the code or leave it. There are no obligations whatsoever.

    You do know that Ton is actually payed to work on blender, right? Without a contributing community (which makes blender popular) this wouldn't be possible at all. If you think about it, by your reasoning this makes Ton even more "evil" than SPI.

  20. @ Teppic : there is a little difference in being megacorp and giving some stuff for free, which can be useful, but is
    parhaps only a PR/marketing move and on the other side the person that is devoting all the time to develop application that allow all world access to 3d at no cost...

  21. Tom (not Ton) on

    @ Teppic Where did I say ANYTHING was evil? Hidden rootkits is about the most evil thing I mentioned there and that was some jerk at sony.

    I'm all FOR business, just like I'm FOR this.

  22. Is this stuff useful??

    To Sony I would say this:

    Thanks for contributing to open source, even if I don't know what this is, or how useful it is, and even if you have something better that's proprietary. If you want do something REALLY useful, give us an open source tracker. I would be VERY impressed, and MOST grateful to Sony, or Microsoft, or ANY other company that gave us decent open source tracker.

  23. Well, your definition of useful might be different, but to my ears, these projects sound really useful.

    I don't understand why people feel the need to bash Sony for releasing these projects. I mean, most people don't even understand the license or what it can be used for, so why would you even complain about the "big bad company"?

  24. @ Tom (not Ton)
    Apple creates a demand for their products through their education deals. These products costs money when the students are finished with their education. That's what I meant with "evil".

    These projects are apparently released under some BSD-style license, which means you can do whatever you want. No strings attached. I can see no relation to Apple's deals here.

    @ xenon
    I have understood that some people think there is some difference just because the author is a large corporation. Would you care to explain exactly what this difference is about?

    The only option for them not to be bashed would be to release it anonymously, because otherwise people would think it's just a sneaky PR-move. This is just ridiculous...

  25. some of you guys are really funny hehe
    sony releases some of their inhous tools under bsd and you think, they plan to do what??

    this is rediculous^2

    i dont like sony products and i dont own any, and never will, but when sony releases tools that might be helpfull, i say : THANK YOU SONY

    the same like i say thank you blender foundation

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