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Check out xStudio, DNEG’s open-source playback tool

Monday, January 23rd, 2023 | Posted by Jim Thacker

International visual effects firm DNEG has released xStudio, its high-performance video playback and review tool for VFX and feature animation, in public beta.

The source code is available via industry standards body Academy Software Foundation’s GitHub repository, as part of the ASWF’s Open Review Initiative.

A high-performance shot playback and review tool for VFX and feature animation work
An alternative to open-source tools like DJV and commercial apps like Autodesk’s RV – itself recently partly open-sourced – xStudio is “modern, flexible and feature-rich playback and review application”.

DNEG cites its “intuitive, easy to use interface”, playback performance on high-resolution video, and ease of pipeline integration thanks to a modular design exposed via C++ and Python APIs.

Although still early in development, xStudio is used in “some live production environments” at DNEG.

DNEG says that it ultimately intends the software to replace all other image viewers used internally within the company, both on individual artists’ machines, and in screening rooms.


Plays back footage at up to 8K resolution, and exchanges playlists with ShotGrid
In the initial beta release, xStudio is primarily a video playback tool with some basic annotation tools.

It displays “all common media formats and codecs at almost any bit depth” at resolutions up to 8K, and supports colour management via the OpenColorIO 2 (OCIO 2) standard.

It’s possible to zoom or pan video, select individual RGBA channels and adjust exposure and playback rate.

Users can also import or export playlists to ShotGrid, Autodesk’s production tracking platform, and can add textual or drawn annoations to media to act as artist notes.

You can see a list of features currently in development – which include a non-linear editing timeline based on OpenTimelineIO (OTIO) – in the xStudio roadmap on DNEG’s website.

Open-sourced as part of the Academy Software Foundation’s Open Review Initiative
The source code for xStudio is being hosted by movie industry open standards body the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), as part of its new Open Review Initiative.

The project, which has the aim of building a unified open-source toolset for shot playback, review and approval, also features two other tools: Open RV, the new open-source edition of RV, and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ yet-to-be-publicly-released itView.

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
The source code for Open RV is available from ASWF’s GitHub repository under an Apache 2.0 licence. To use it, you currently have to build it from source.

The intitial beta release can only be compiled for Linux – it supports CentOS, Rocky Linux 9.1 and Ubuntu 22.04 – but Windows and macOS support is “on the roadmap for 2023”.

Read DNEG’s announcement of the beta release of xStudio

Read an overview of the current feature set of xStudio and its product roadmap on DNEG’s website

Download the source code for xStudio from ASWF’s GitHub repository

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