3D Digital Assets are undoubtedly an increasingly vital component in movies, TV shows and gaming especially those heavy with VFX. This IBC Accelerator project team set out to realise and exploit the long-term value of the VFX and 3D components for film, TV & games assets, future-proofing IP through the automation of archiving 3D components.

Champions: MovieLabs (Project Lead), Universal Studios, Paramount Studios, Sony Innovation Studios, Unity Technologies 

Participants: Perfect Memory, Atmecs, Vidispine

The project’s core challenge was to enable an automated archive for VFX assets, similar to existing video and audio asset managers, where such VFX assets can be stored using a common standard with previews/proxies, common metadata, and a searchable index. This project created and demonstrated options for an automated tool/process which can be used with ‘Work in Progress’ assets or an archive of 3D VFX assets (created using current industry tools) that can be standardised for metadata naming, then indexed and enabled for search, browse and preview of the asset packages.

Using such tools, content owners or 3D vendors can rapidly ingest whole archives of 3D assets, standardise the format and clearly see what is in their library, including if there are applicable any variances or missing metadata. In this way, an asset package will carry with it its descriptive metadata and a proxy for easy viewing of the package contents which will make a package of assets easier to share between vendors and clients. An open, standard format will also provide future-proofing so that tools will continue to exist to open archived packages in the future.

This problem has two parts:

  • Agreeing on standard metadata, formats, ontology. ETC has a project underway for some of this.
  • Building a simple indexed repository that allows searching and retrieval. Ideally it will be independent of the actual storage mechanism (i.e. not depending on a particular cloud or local file system.)

Why is a VFX / 3D asset archiving system important?
Currently VFX and animation vendors create thousands to millions of 3D assets on a project and the studio may need to coordinate between multiple vendors each handling parts of the project.While each vendor has an internal asset management system and process there is currently no industry agreed process, scope or tools to normalise and store those assets.

Adding to the complexity, a 3D asset can comprise multiple sub-elements such as files for textures, rigging, animation, and mesh and also have related assets such as lower polygon complexity versions of the same asset. In addition, current practice can involve embedding some metadata in filenames, some in embedded file metadata and some within asset management software.

Storing VFX assets in a way that allows them to be searched and retrieved will reduce the cost and complexity of re-using those assets, make them easier to share between contributors in a workflow, and increase efficiencies across the ecosystem.

For further information: accelerators@ibc.org