Lucasfilm, Sony Pictures Imageworks Release Alembic 1.0
August 17, 2011

Lucasfilm, Sony Pictures Imageworks Release Alembic 1.0

Vancouver, BC - Alembic 1.0, the open-source project jointly developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Lucasfilm Ltd., made its debut at SIGGRAPH 2011.

Alembic is the CG interchange format focused on efficiently storing and sharing animation and visual effects scenes across multiple software applications. It was designed to handle massive animation data sets often required in high-end visual effects and animation, which are routinely developed and produced by companies, such as Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm Animation Ltd. and Sony Pictures Imageworks. The studios each saw the need for a tool like Alembic, something that would fit within existing pipelines and allow for customization at the facility level without impeding the ability to share work.

In addition to the features announced at last year's SIGGRAPH, Alembic 1.0 includes automatic data de-duplication. The software automatically recognizes repeated shapes in complicated geometry and only writes a single instance to disk. This makes Alembic 1.0 use less disk space than promised without requiring any extra steps on the part of the user and can improve both write and read performance by more than 70%. For complex, deeply hierarchical and mostly rigid assets, tests have shown cache reduction in the order of 98%.

The code base for Alembic is available for download on the project's Google Code site and more information can be found online at

Alembic includes tools that allow collaboration while working with a generic, extensible, data representation scheme. In essence, it distills complex and often proprietary, animated scenes into application-independent files with baked geometric results. These results can be fully re-importable across the range of supporting software.