Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

ASWF adopts OpenImageIO

OpenImageIO (OIIO) has become the latest project to be hosted by movie industry standards body the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF).

A format-agnostic API for reading and writing images, OpenImageIO is one of the VFX industry’s earliest open-source projects, and is described by the ASWF as “ubiquitous” in VFX applications and piplines.

A format-agnostic technology for reading and writing images
Created and open-sourced in 2008 by rendering pioneer Larry Gritz, currently software architect at Sony Pictures Imageworks, OpenImageIO is a library for reading and writing image formats commonly used in VFX.

It provides “simple but powerful” APIs that abstract the process of reading and writing images, removing the need for an application to need to know the details of the file formats they use.

The file formats themselves are supported via plugins, with plugins available for a range of common image formats, including TIFF, JPEG, PNG, OpenEXR, HDR, DPX, Cineon, PSD, and a range of RAW formats.

The OpenImageIO website describes the plugins as “really good at understanding all the strange corners of the image formats, and are very careful about preserving image metadata”.

Widely adopted in VFX pipeline tools, and as a dependency for other open-source technologies
OIIO is more of a behind-the-scenes technology than many of the ASWF’s current projects, with the ASWF describing it as an “ecosystem partner of many other open source projects”.

It uses OpenEXR, OpenColorIO and OpenVDB as dependencies, and in turn acts as a dependency for Open Shading Language, OpenColorIO, MaterialX, USD and Gaffer.

The library is integated into pipeline tools including Houdini, Maya, Katana and Blender, as well as VFX and animation studios’ in-house tools, and is used for day-to-day tasks like image format conversion and resizing.

ASWF adoption to speed up development, including better GPU acceleration and AI integration
OpenImageIO now becomes an ASWF incubation project, the Foundation’s middle stage of project development, alongside MaterialX and OpenTimelineIO.

Larry Gritz commented that he hoped that donating OIIO to the ASWF would widen the pool of contributors to the project, enabling it to “go above and beyond its current levels of development”.

Specific future areas of development cited include improved Windows support, GPU porting and acceleration, Rust and C bindings, and machine learning integrations.

OIIO is the latest of Gritz’s open-source projects to be adopted by the ASWF, the foundation having adopted Open Shading Language – of which Gritz is designer and lead implementor – in 2020.

Read more about ASWF’s adoption of OpenImageIO on the Academy Software Foundation website