PIXAR: OpenSubdiv with Mudbox and Maya

By - - Maya , Mudbox

Pixar and the OpenSubdiv Project

Pixar OpenSubdiv with Craig Barr's Toad King

At the Autodesk booth at Siggraph 2012, the Pixar GPU Team comprised of Takahito Tejima, Dirk Van Gelder, Manuel Kraemer, and David Yu announced and demonstrated their recent work on an open-source project called OpenSubdiv. 

Their demo utilized Maya's Viewport 2.0 to demonstrate some stunning real-time results that included deformation of around 1.5 million vertices on a model (the ToadKing rides again!) with multiple channel maps displayed.   Vector Displacment was extracted from the model (sculpted and painted in) Mudbox, along with all of the Diffuse, Specularity and Reflectivity and displayed with a simple rig that allowed full deformation IN REAL TIME!   

Pixar OpenSubdiv in Maya

Why is this important?

Aside from being incredibly cool, there is a very important production reason for this.  At render time, subdivision surfaces are most often used to achieve smooth and clean results that accurately and properly mimic the models in a scene.  This is great at render time, but what about during animation, set layout, effects, or anything else that needs to interact with specific features of that model's surface?  When working on a production animators, for example, are working with a more simplistic, low-res or even proxy version of the models in the scene.  This is typically done for performance so that animators can preview the work in real-time.  However, the historical problem with this process is that it makes it difficult to properly interact with objects.   A scaley hand grasping a weapon or a shirt colliding with rippled skin, for example, require a more delicate approach during animation.   Previewing the full-subdivided surface in real-time, at ALL times, solves a number of these issues.   This code is being utilised in Pixar's pipeline in current productions right now and is changing how animators work by taking a huge chunk of guess work out of animation and interaction.  This is resulting in a shortened time in the production process.

Watch the Pixar OpenSubdiv presentation with Autodesk here:


Find out more information about OpenSubdiv at the Pixar research web site here: http://www.opensubdiv.com/

OpenSubdiv is covered by an opensource license,  and is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use.  The source code for OpenSubdiv is located at the link below and has entered open beta for SIGGRAPH 2012.  Feel free to use it and let Pixar know what you think through the following site:


(Platforms supported: Windows, Linux, limited OSX)


Posted By
Published In
  • Maya
  • Mudbox
To post a comment please login or register
| 4 years ago
Wow, OpenSubdicv is awesome on the video's that ive seen so far but how exactly do I install it on Maya?
Edited by NHaSXHTs 4 years ago
| 5 years ago
Dudes, give artists compilited plugin for Windows. We also want to play with opensubdiv.
Edited by n4QryFwB 5 years ago
| 5 years ago
I am not a programmer and need help installing Open Subdiv for Maya on a Mac. Can someone please help?
Edited by 7Mut3Clx 5 years ago
| 6 years ago
Vote for Catmull Clark Subdivision Surfaces to be used in 3ds Max, http://3dsmaxfeedback.autodesk.com/forums/80695-general-feature-requests/suggestions/1489155-catmull-clark-subdivision-surfaces
Edited by JWqx9r42 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
Cool stuff seems for maya? not Softimage ???
Edited by EP682frz 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
Yes - nothing has changed there. It is the same low-poly quad mesh. The Maya plug-in (via the Pixar code) takes care of the rest.
Edited by SmJ9PwEt 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
But using the toad for example, is the underlying geometry just an ordinary quad polygonal mesh as exchanged between Mudbox and Maya in the usual way? That's what wasn't clear to me.
Edited by h5juz8ER 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
@T. I. Burbage - simply put, it is code that can be used to create a plug-in for any 3D package that can handle subd surfaces. The code is utlising CPU/GPU to drive it's calculations to allow the viewport to handle such large geometric resolutions (something that is typically happening at render time). The advantages to working with assets real-time, that resemble render-time, is the driving force behind what the GPU team at Pixar is utilizing
Edited by SmJ9PwEt 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
Craig, I know the focus of the blog post is on Mudbox, but I was wondering whether you could comment on how this tech relates to SubD in Maya and to data exchange between Mudbox and Maya, and perhaps FBX? Watching the video, it wasn't clear whether this introduces a new geometry type or builds on the existing Maya Subdivision Surface type.
Edited by h5juz8ER 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
Great!Love to see it in Mudbox(the best sculpting software)
Edited by 82pciort 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
@timd1971 - this particular code was compiled for tools that they are using in production. So, currently compiled for Maya and Presto. However, it is OpenSource code and could be complied for Max or many other 3D packages for that matter! Keep your eyes on Mudbox! ;)
Edited by SmJ9PwEt 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
Wow!! That's so sweet stuff there.
Edited by 2S5331I4 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
all the good stuff seems for maya? not max?
Edited by zHHeNwmQ 6 years ago