The Linux Foundation has joined hands with some of the biggest names of Hollywood to launch  Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a new foundation for open source software developers in the multimedia industry.

The foundation will create a neutral framework to share resources and collaborate on technologies for image creation, visual effects, animation and sound.

Primary goals of ASWF:

  • Provide a neutral forum to coordinate cross-project efforts, establish best practices and share resources across the motion picture and broader media industries.
  • Develop an open continuous integration (CI) and build infrastructure to enable reference builds from the community and alleviate issues caused by siloed development.
  • Provide individuals and organizations with a clear path for participation and code contribution.
  • Streamline development for build and runtime environments through the sharing of open source build configurations, scripts and recipes.
  • Provide better, more consistent licensing through a shared licensing template.

ASWF include some of the biggest names of Hollywood. Founding members include Animal Logic, Autodesk, Blue Sky Studios, Cisco, DNEG, DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, Foundry, Google Cloud, Intel, SideFX, The Walt Disney Studios, and Weta Digital.

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.

“The creation of the Academy Software Foundation is an important and exciting step for the motion picture industry, ” Nick Cannon, Chief Technology Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios.

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 (OSS) across the motion picture industry. The survey found that more than 80% of the industry uses open source software, particularly for animation and visual effects. However, this widespread use of OSS has also created challenges including siloed development, managing multiple versions of OSS libraries (“versionitis”) and varying governance and licensing models that need to be addressed in order to ensure a healthy open source ecosystem.

“We are very excited to collaborate with the Academy and The Linux Foundation to build this industry initiative to strengthen the projects and ecosystem we all rely on,” Guy Martin, director of Open Source, Autodesk

Why it matters: Open Source has become the defacto model for software development. Most of the time, companies end up creating their own solutions to achieve the same goals. It leads to a waste of resources and incompatible software which increases complexity for customers. It’s a lose lose situation. The ideal solution is to collaborate and work on the same code base, benefit from each other’s work and make life easier for customers. With the creation of ASWF, the media industry can reap the same benefits that other industries enjoy.

“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, ​SVP, Executive Creative Director and Head of Industrial Light & Magic and Member of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council​,​ Open Source Investigation Committee.

It’s incredible to see how the Linux Foundation has become a go to organization for different industries seeing collaboration between different, and at times competing players.

The ASWF will have a significant presence at SIGGRAPH 2018.  For more information about the Academy Software Foundation, visit http://www.aswf.io/.

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