Burning Questions: What in the heck is OpenFX?

News, Tutorial, Burning Questions Nov 17, 2014 at 09:57 AM

I was talking to someone at NAB who I would consider to be “in the know” for visual effects and was surprised that he had never heard of OpenFX. More and more developers are developing with OpenFX, or OFX, a standardized software interface supported by numerous hosts such as Nuke, DaVinci Resolve and Sony Vegas. Here’s a few things to know so you’re not caught off guard!

Updated November 17, 2014, with new OFX plug-ins from Tiffen. Last week, we updated with newer OFX plug-ins from Boris FX, Digital Film Tools and FilmConvert.

Burning Question

Where did OpenFX come from? What is it's purpose?

OpenFX was established because each developer had it's own proprietary interface, so developers at different companies couldn't work together share code very easily. Developers had to create their own method of porting their plug-ins into each host, which, as you can imagine, can be expensive and time consuming. Bruno Nicoletti of The Foundry got things going in 2004, and talks about it in an interview with Digital ProducerYou may recognize some of the founding members from Assimilate, Autodesk, Digieffects, FilmLight, The Foundry, GenArts and RE:Vision Effects. OpenFX was transferred to The Open Effects Association (OFX) in 2009.

The OFX are proponents for open standards between developers of visual effects tools for supporting a broad range of platform-neutral hosts. The focus of the group is:

  • to improve image processing
  • lessen development costs
  • shorten development time
  • reduce product support that comes along with supporting multiple compositing tools and NLE's

Current members are The Foundry, FilmLight, Assimilate, GenArts, RE:Vision Effects, Sony Creative Software, and Vidmaker.

If you're a developer, join the Association and get access to early releases and help shape future versions of the standard. OpenFX members collaborate with their peers to developer and extend the OFX API, a BSD open source license.

OpenFX Hosts

Let me first stress the point that if a plug-in is OFX compatible, it does NOT mean that it supports all the hosts listed below. It just means that the following hosts support the OFX standard. OpenFX is a standardized software interface for developing plug-ins that support multiple hosts. OpenFX is NOT a host or host platform. 

Open Source hosts that support OFX

  • Natron
  • ButtleOFX
  • TuttleOFX 

OpenFX Plug-ins

Below is a list of some of the plug-ins that already support the OpenFX standard and I expect this list to grow over the next year. The group had a meeting at NAB in April and other developers wanted to join, including Boris FX and Imagineer. (This is not gossip. The meeting minutes are available online for the world to see.)

For more, see OpenFX (OFX) Compatibility

There is a list of OFX compatible plug-ins here. Again, just because it is OFX compatible doesn't mean that all hosts are supported, just that the OFX standard is supported. 

Expect to see more and more OFX plug-ins in the future. Cinnafilm did a Kickstarter for Dark Energy plug-ins to support Avid DS, Resolve, NUKE, and SCRATCH. I haven't heard if they've moved along with the project but the Kickstarter unfortunately didn't meet their goal.

Harry Frank of Red Giant tells me "Red Giant Universe is also coming for OFX! It will be the next addition to the host app framework."

Peter McAuley of Boris FX says, "BorisFX has OFX plugins currently shipping (BCC for Sony Vegas Pro) and should be ready with additional OFX host support in the very near future."

Please note

There is another OpenFX and OFX for 3D, which is very confusing and completely unrelated. This other one is also open source, but for Windows API for 3D and modeling.

Great Resources


Posted by Michele Yamazaki