VFX Superprod becomes first French studio to deploy Pixar’s USD-based pipeline -

Superprod becomes first French studio to deploy Pixar’s USD-based pipeline

Superprod Group – a European audiovisual production – announces a first in France: the deployment of a brand new pipeline based on Pixar’s USD technology. This pipeline, recently presented at the Radi Raf conference in Angoulême, will save substantial time for the entire CG animation production chain and heighten the visual and creative quality of all the studio’s projects. 

Introduced by Pixar studio, the Universal Scene Description (USD) system was identified as the most promising pipeline technology for the future by Superprod’s R&D teams in 2019. With this potential in mind, the group invested significant resources in forming a dedicated team to develop their own pipeline based on USD. Named “FLOW”, this new pipeline aligns perfectly with Superprod Group Group’s expansion strategy and is deployed in the three studios of Superprod (Paris, Angouleme and Milan). 

The pipeline will open up possibilities for a wide variety of productions, both in terms of budget levels and production techniques, including 2D, 3D, and hybrid projects (mixing animation and live-action). 

Superprod deputy senior VP animation Virginie Créance said, “Animation is a highly competitive sector where the requirements of creativity and technology are constantly expanding. Our desire to keep up with developments in the industry has made investing in R&D essential to us. This strategy allows us to offer our partners the ability to create the most ambitious and highest-quality productions imaginable. The adoption of USD also gives us a chance to position ourselves at the forefront of new markets.” 

What is USD technology? 

USD system is an open-source technology developed by Pixar that allows 3D scenes to be represented in a single format, readable by all the project departments. Similar to the usage of HTML for the web, USD provides all the components to build a 3D scene that stores all stages (modelling, shading, animation, lighting, fx, rendering), without breaking the assembly of those stages. Thus, the stacking is done in real-time, and different teams can contribute to the same project simultaneously without the work of one team member overriding the work of anyone else.

Time-saving and considerable benefits for the entire production chain 

Working on a USD-based pipeline thus offers many advantages such as :

Interoperability: all software will be able to read and write data through USD, and artists and talents from all departments will be able to visualise the same 3D scene during the production process. 

Impressive agility and image quality for both feature films and animated series: by forgoing the numerous technical constraints of previous methods, USD technology allows for more artistic iterations – and therefore increasingly higher-quality images – without additional costs.

 ● Performance gain: the technology allows scenes to be read much more quickly than ever before, even the heaviest ones. This results in an increased level of detail in 3D scenes, which elevates the visual quality.

 ● Saving time: by shortening the amount of time needed for the visualisation of the different stages, the technology allows more iterations to be proposed and considered for the project’s final version, and also allows the final version to be constructed more quickly. 

Superprod technical director Christophe Archambault and Superprod head of FLOW pipeline Marc Dubrois commented, “Large studios such as Pixar, MPC or Animal Logic were the first to implement USD because the changeover required a significant investment. Today, this USD-based pipeline positions Superprod as one of the top European studios, thanks to USD’s excellent performance and impressive pipeline possibilities.” 

This technological investment aligns perfectly with Superprod Group’s strong determination to pursue international growth while developing a strong level of technical and artistic expertise.