Thursday, August 11th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk open-sources RV

Originally posted on 8 August 2022. Autodesk has now released Open RV.

Autodesk is to open-source RV, its Scientific and Technical Award-winning image viewer and shot playback system for visual effects and animation pipelines.

The code will form part of the Academy Software Foundation’s new Open Review Initiative, alongside VFX facility DNEG’s own shot review and playback tool xSTUDIO, and parts of Sony Pictures Imageworks’ itView.

Updated 11 August 2022: Only the core components of RV will be open-sourced, not the full commercial version of the software. You can find more details at the foot of this story.

A high-performance image viewer and playback system for VFX and animation production
Originally developed by Tweak Software in the mid-2000s and acquired by Autodesk in 2015, RV is a high-performance image viewer and playback system designed for VFX and animation work.

The software won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2016 for allowing “studios of all sizes to take advantage of a state-of-the-art workflow”.

Current users include leading Australian VFX and animation facility Animal Logic, which describes RV as “critical to its animation pipeline”.

Steadily updated, but not available separately from ShotGrid since late last year
Since Autodesk acquired it, RV has received regular updates, with the latest, RV 2022, adding support for new open standard OpenTimelineIO.

The update also moved RV a step in its current direction, discontinuing the old $299 perpetual licences, with RV becoming available only via subscriptions to ShotGrid, Autodesk’s production tracking system.

Part of ASWF’s new Open Review Initiative to build a unified open-source shot review toolset
As a newly open-source product, RV becomes one of the foundations of movie industry open standards body the Academy Software Foundation’s new Open Review Initiative.

The project, which has the aim of building a unified open-source toolset for shot playback, review and approval, will also feature code from two other shot review and playback tools.

Both were developed in-house at major visual effects facilities: the upcoming xSTUDIO at DNEG, and itView at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

As ASWF’s latest early-stage Sandbox project, alongside new asset-management standard OpenAssetIO, the three tools will initially maintain separate code repositories, before gradually converging into a “cohesive, state-of-the-art review and approval framework”.

Licensing and system requirements
RV is available for Windows, Linux and macOS. The current stable release is RV 2022.3.

At the time of writing, RV has not yet been added to Autodesk’s open-source project website, and the code is not available on Autodesk’s GitHub repository.

We’ve contacted Autodesk to ask when and where the code will become available.

Updated 11 August 2022: Autodesk told us that it was currently only announcing its intent to open-source RV, and that the practical details would follow later.

Asked whether it was now possible to download the current release and use it for free, Autodesk told us that it is only open-sourcing the “core components” of RV, not the full commercial software product.

To use the latest commercial version or to receive product support, you will still need an active ShotGrid subscription, or a perpetual license with an active maintenance plan.

We asked whether it would be possible to compile the open-source components into a working build of the software: the firm said that it could not comment yet, but that more information would follow later this year.

ShotGrid subscriptions currently cost $45/month or $345/year.

Updated 4 October 2022: During a recent email conversation about Flow, its new cloud platform for media and entertainment, Autodesk told us that it intended the open-source version of RV to be a working product.

“Our goal is to open source most of it [but] we cannot commit to open sourcing all of RV as it currently contains elements, such as codecs, that are licensed from third parties.”

Read Autodesk’s announcement that it is open-sourcing RV