USD experiments in a backyard laboratory

Back in 2021 the team at Animal Logic released USD ALab, a free set of static assets designed to encourage adoption of the Universal Scene Description 3D format. The release contained hundreds of authored USD assets and their accompanying production-ready 4K textures, all of which was made available under an open-source license.

At the time the team expressed a desire to add additional assets to the scene and this month they've launched ALab Phase 2, which presents a full production scene including over 300 production quality assets, plus two rigged and animated characters complete with procedural fabric and fur. A full lighting setup and cameras are also provided.

In my day-to-day work I don't get to play with a lot of organic models, so I couldn't wait to download and dive in. The scene is quickly loaded into Houdini via the Sublayer node and the setup handily demonstrates many concepts unique to USD, including Payloads, VariantSets, References and so much more.

I have only begun to scratch the surface of this massive data set, but here's an adorable picture of Goggles the ALab scientist rendered in Karma on Apple Silicon.

Goggles the ALab scientist, rendered in Karma on Apple Silicon

Along with Goggles comes her sidekick Hinge and an entire secret backyard laboratory packed full of virtual experiments. Exploring all of this will take a while.

Animal Logic have said they hope the latest update to the package encourages training, education, workflow experiments and more.

We encourage using the assets for education and demonstration by students, studios, and vendors. We're motivated by our own desire to create unencumbered assets for these purposes and think that the industry at large could use something similar. We're excited to see how ALab develops in the community, particularly as we continue to extend the data set over time.

I am convinced that the future of 3D is USD. The technology will provide the foundation on which the next generation of great experiences will be built. With this release Animal Logic has provided a platform that artists can use to explore and be inspired by to create the next era of immersive content.

If you haven't already, download the digital assets today.