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What is Universal Scene Description (USD)? #burningquestion

Burning Question USD

Universal Scene Description, or USD, is a scene encoding format for content creation that enables 3D applications to exchange assets. It gives artists the option to load only the portion that they need, instead of loading everything, saving time and processor. Most importantly, USD provides a universal language so that projects can be shared between multiple artists in various departments in different studios.[2]

Pixar Universal Scene Description

Developed by Pixar and first used in the film Brave back in 2010, and is the heart of their 3D graphics pipeline. Over the last decade, Pixar continues to mature, refine, and stabilize the code, releasing it as open source[1].

Because it’s open source, efficient, and scalable, it has been widely adopted by software developers, 3D artists, game designers, AR developers, and others around the world. Most 3D applications now support the USD format including Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Nvidia Omniverse, Blender, Houdini, and more.[3]

A USD (Universal Scene Description) primer for ARTISTS

Matt from the Maya Learning Channel breaks USD down beautifully. He explains that USD will just take a change in mindset for 3D artists. He explains that if you have any interest in working at a big studio, you need to be familiar with USD. Most importantly, Matt gives you some terminology, such as Prims, or Primitive, the smallest unit in USD, and explains how it actually works.

See also, Maya-USD on GitHub

More USD Information


  1. Pixar’s USD Pipeline,
  2. USD Frequently Asked Questions,
  3. Universal Scene Description, Wikipedia

Check out Maya Monday under Tutorials for more Maya-featured tutorials and information. In addition, check out the Bifrost Hub, for everything about Bifrost. this includes downloads, tutorials, and more.

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Posted by Michele Yamazaki

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