Mickey Mouse Goes Open Source

Even Disney contributes to open source.

Walt Disney is a company that you would generally not associate with open source. In fact, they are known as a company that protects its copyrights and digital assets quite vigorously. However, even Mickey Mouse contributes to open source. Over the course of the last two weeks, Disney-owned companies have contributed two different high-end computer graphics projects to the open source community. One is from Disney Animation Studios and one is from the Disney-owned, Steve Jobs-created Pixar Animation.

The Disney Animation contribution is the BDRF Explorer. According to this report by LaughingPlace.com, Disney announced the donation of the project at the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles last week. BDRF is "an advanced physically-based shading and rendering toolset that evaluates BRDFs (a four-dimensional function that defines how light is reflected at an opaque surface) and how they compare to real life. It is capable of exploring the MERL 100 (Mitsubishi’s set of empirically measured data) and MIT CSAIL data sets, along with programmatic BRDF functions that can be defined by the user."

It seems that BDRF is state of the art in its category and many in the CG industry are looking forward to working with the program. The project is housed up on Github. It will be interesting to see if the community at large starts contributing to the project, or simply relies on the work the DAS folks have done and simply use the tool as is.

The other open source contribution from the House that Mouse Built, or, in this case Woody, Buzz and all the rest, is Open SubDiv. It is also housed up at Github. The annoucement regarding SubDiv was also made at SIGGRAPH. Open SubDiv is the culmination of years of work by the Pixar engineers in developing a better system for CG surface creation. The video below gives a great background on it, but fair warning, it is like 19 minutes long.

So, it seems that Disney realizes the value in giving back to the open source community.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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