Friday, November 3rd, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Open-source VFX pipeline builder Prism 2.0 is now available

Originally posted on 2 August 2023 for the open beta, and updated for the official release.

Richard Frangenberg has released Prism 2.0, the latest version of his open-source tool, described as a complete readymade pipeline for VFX and animation projects.

It’s a major update, making it possible to set up a USD pipeline “out of the box”, expanding the range of DCC apps that Prism supports, and introducing paid licences for some plugins.

Automate common VFX pipeline-management tasks without scripting
First released in 2018, Prism lets users set up and maintain a production pipeline without scripting, working from a standard GUI inside its host applications, which include Maya, Houdini, Blender and Nuke.

Users can create projects using a readymade directory structure, establish assets and shots within them, create tasks, and assign them to departments within the studio.

Prism manages the exchange of data between the DCC applications to which it connects, and also manages the generation of assets for review, including playblasts and renders.

You can find a brief overview of the workflow in the online documentation.

Prism is used in production at a number of studios, mainly small-to-medium-size VFX and motion graphics firms, including Alps VFX, Chocolate Tribe and Method n Madness.

Prism 2.0: set up a custom USD pipeline ‘out of the box’
Prism 2.0 is a major overhaul – projects aren’t backwards-compatible with Prism 1.x – and has been in development for some time: the update was first announced in 2021.

The key change is that Prism now enables users to create a pipeline based around the Universal Scene Description format (USD: now officially renamed OpenUSD).

Its new USD plugin supports Houdini, Maya – via either the native USD for Maya plugin or Multiverse | USD – and ZBrush.

Users can also export data from other apps in Alembic or OBJ format that can be referenced by USD files in Prism.

A range of Hydra render delegates are supported, including 3Delight, Arnold and Karma, with the default HdStorm delegate and AMD’s Radeon ProRender are available out of the box.

Users can author Hydra-compatible materials via QuiltiX, a new standalone node-based material editor based around the USD-compatible MaterialX standard.

You can read more about QuiltiX in this story.

New options for setting up custom workflows and managing cloud-based teams
Prism’s UI and core workflow have also been overhauled, with the interface getting a new “modern stylesheet”, and a more streamlined layout for the Project Browser.

Directory structure and filenames can now be customised on a per-project basis, and custom environment variables can now be defined per-user and per-project.

A new Studio plugin lets users manage multiple projects, while an experimental Cloud plugin for managing remote teams is currently in alpha.

New integration plugins for DCC applications, some of them paid-for
The number of DCC applications that Prism supports directly has also expanded, with new integration plugins available for DaVinci Resolve, Kitsu, Open RV, Substance 3D Painter and Unreal Engine.

The core plugins, including 3ds Max, Blender, Deadline, Houdini, Maya, Nuke and Photoshop, remain free.

In a change to the licence model, the other plugins – including the new USD plugin, Unreal Engine and ZBrush – become paid add-ons.

System requirements, prices and release date
Prism 2.0 is available now. The core software is compatible with Windows only. The versions of the host software compatible with the integration plugins are listed in the online documentation.

Source code for the core application and the 3ds Max, Blender, Deadline, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, Photoshop and PureRef plugins is available under a GNU LGPL licence, making them free for use in commercial projects. The other plugins require a paid subscription.

Plus subscriptions cost €19/user/month or €180/user/year, and support up to 15 users; Pro subscriptions cost €45/user/month or €468/user/year, and support unlimited users.

Read a full list of new features in Prism 2.0 in the online changelog

Download free VFX pipeline tool Prism 2.0 from the product website

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