Walt Disney Animation Studios Announces Open Source for Two New Software Programs

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Burbank, Calif. - Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) formally announced two new software programs developed in-house to debut in open source.

The first, Reposado, developed by Greg Neagle, senior systems engineer, is a set of tools written in Python that replicates the key functionality of Mac OS X Server's Software Update Service. The second, SeExpr, currently maintained by Andrew Selle, is an expression language used by Disney to procedurally create textures and instanced geometry developed by Brent Burley, Dan Teece, and Tom Thompson.

Expressions, though essentially a mathematical concept, can readily be used to create artist directed procedural content. SeExpr is currently a foundational framework used in the following areas: shading, painting, procedural geometry synthesis, and dynamic simulator control. By providing this standard and simple expression framework, we hope to allow developers everywhere to produce powerful and flexible tools.

Greg Neagle states: "My hope by releasing our developed software in open source is to enable a collaborative environment which benefits the community and matures the product much more quickly." Reposado, together with the "curl" binary tool and a Web server, such as Apache 2, enables users to host a local Apple Software Update Server on any hardware and OS. Additionally, Reposado provides a command-line tool that enables the creation of an arbitrary number of "branches" of the Apple catalogs. These "branches" can contain any subset of the available updates. 

SeExpr can be used in many evaluation contexts, and in each context it may have different band variables, different customizable functions. Andy Selle notes: "In the same way shaders can be used to generalize a renderer, expressions allow generalization of other types of software. It is simple to embed SeExpr in any C++ program, and new functions and variables can be created for your application to adapt expressions to your needs.''

Reposado and SeExpr are two of Walt Disney Animation Studios' growing set of open source offerings that can be found at: http://www.disneyanimation.com/technology/opensource.html

On Disney's open source contributions, Dan Candela, who oversees the studio's software says, "Open source software is contributing to the definition of industry-wide standards and reducing repetitive infrastructure efforts that do not distinguish our final product, movies. These changes are helping to mature the industry and allow us all to make better imagery."

Dan Candela, director of technology, is in charge of software development at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Prior to his current position, Dan held management posts at Apple, Inc. and Nothing Real LLC. Candela began his career at Sony Pictures Imageworks shortly after the group was formed. He received his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. 

Andrew Selle, senior software engineer, is primarily responsible for developing tools for simulation and effect artists. Besides development, he continues to academically publish in the area of computer graphics. Prior to his current position, he was a R&D Software Engineer at Industrial Light + Magic and a consultant at Intel Corporation. He received a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from UW-Madison and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University.

Greg Neagle, senior systems engineer, is primarily responsible for deploying and managing Mac OS X machines at Walt Disney Animation Studios. His open-source software deployment project, "Munki," originally developed for use at the Studio, is now in use managing tens of thousands of Macs all over the world. Greg has given presentations on various aspects of OS X management at Macworld, Apple's WWDC, the MacTech Conference, and recently participated in a Mac OS X workshop in Oslo organized by the Norwegian public universities. Along with co-author Ed Marczak, Greg recently wrote his first published book: Enterprise Mac Managed Preferences.



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