What is Universal Scene Description?

Universal Scene Description is an extensible framework and ecosystem for describing, composing, simulating, and collaborating within 3D worlds. Originally developed by Pixar Animation Studios, USD, also referred to as OpenUSD, is more than a file format. It’s an open-source 3D scene description used for 3D content creation and interchange among different tools. Its incredible power and versatility has made it an industry standard, not only in the visual effects community, but also in architecture, design, robotics, manufacturing, and other industries.

Get Started With OpenUSD and Omniverse


USD (or OpenUSD) is the foundation for NVIDIA Omniverse™, a composable computing platform for building USD-based 3D workflows and applications. Omniverse connects a wide variety of content creation tools to each other and to our real-time NVIDIA RTX™ ray tracing technology.

NVIDIA has expanded on USD by developing new tools, integrating technologies, and providing samples and tutorials. This includes working with an ecosystem of partners–including Pixar, Adobe, Apple and Autodesk–to evolve USD as it becomes one of the building blocks and the language of the metaverse.

This playable tech demo showcases the power of RTX technology on the Omniverse platform. The NVIDIA Racer RTX demo was created by a distributed team of NVIDIA Omniverse artists and developers using USD assets, along with real-time ray tracing, DLSS 3, and NVIDIA® PhysX®. The result is an interactive physics-accurate simulation featuring the most realistically rendered RC cars ever.

Explore USD Pre-Built Libraries and Tools

Try USDView from the Omniverse Launcher

USDView, developed by Pixar, is a useful tool for loading, visualizing, and introspecting USD files. It's one of the best ways to start exploring Universal Scene Description and NVIDIA provides USDView pre-built and configured to get you started right away. Download USDView from the Omniverse Launcher and check out the USDView documentation to learn more.

Get Started with Omniverse

Download USD Pre-Built Libraries and Tools

The USD libraries are only available in source form from Pixar, and building USD can be quite an adventure. To get you started, you can download pre-built libraries, including the accompanying USD Toolset.

USD 23.11, Python 3.10

For Windows

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USD 23.11, Python 3.10

For Linux

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Download the usd-core Python Package on PyPI

The usd-core package is also available if you want to experiment with the USD Python API or if you only need the core USD features for reading and writing USD stages and layers. USD comes pre-built and it's just a "pip install" away.

Download from PyPI

Learn Universal Scene Description

Universal Scene Description for Developers Series: Watch this introductory series by Aaron Luk, a founding developer of Pixar USD and senior engineering manager for NVIDIA Omniverse, to learn about the four USD superpowers developers can leverage to unlock new possibilities in 3D workflows.

Watch the Series

OpenUSD Learning

Become an OpenUSD developer by taking these first steps and following the NVIDIA OpenUSD learning content.

Discover two ways of learning about Universal Scene Description. Our guided learning includes an OpenUSD learning path, courses, as well as written and video tutorials that guide you from start to finish as an introduction to OpenUSD. Our independent learning contains foundational knowledge in the form of whitepapers, manuals, and video demonstrations that you can explore at your own pace.

Start Your Guided Learning Start Your Independent Learning

Self-Paced USD Courses

USD for Collaborative 3D Workflows

Getting Started with USD for 3D Collaborative Workflows

Learn how to generate a scene using human-readable Universal Scene Description ASCII (.USDA) files. You’ll be able to create your own scenes within the USD framework, and you’ll also have a strong foundation to use it in Omniverse and applications such as Maya, Unity, and Unreal Engine.

Take the Self-Paced Course
Essentials of USD in Omniverse

Essentials of USD in Omniverse

Learn about data modeling using Prims, attributes, relationships, and custom schemas and composition for scene assembly and collaboration. The course includes a hands-on portion that utilizes the USD Python API to experiment with the fundamental concepts of USD.

Take the Self-Paced Course

View the Latest USD Tutorials

Download USD Sample Assets

Free and open-source USD samples are available for download through NVIDIA Omniverse and partner sites.

Try RunUSD, the OpenUSD validation service, to ensure your USD tools and applications are compatible with a range of OpenUSD versions and configurations.

NVIDIA SimReady Warehouse USD scene

SimReady Warehouse Assets

Download Omniverse to get the latest SimReady (or Simulation-ready) USD assets.

Download Omniverse
USD scene with MDL materials rendered in Omniverse

USD Attic Sample

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Download Omniverse

AECO Demo Packs

Download Omniverse to access these five unique AECO worlds. They include source data from Autodesk Revit, Autodesk 3ds Max, McNeel Rhino and Grasshopper, Trimble SketchUp, and ArcGIS CityEngine.

Download Omniverse
Pixar’s Kitchen Set

Pixar’s Kitchen Set

Review and accept Pixar’s license agreement before downloading the file.

Download From Pixar
Animal Logic USD ALab

Animal Logic - USD ALab

The USD ALab dataset is the Animal Logic interpretation and implementation of real-world production and pipeline concepts. There are three downloads available, including textures and baked procedurals.

Download from Animal Logic
Intel ASWF USD scene

Intel® - 4004 Moore Lane

Download this open-source USD asset from the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF).

Download from ASWF

Create With Material Definition Language in USD

 NVIDIA Material Definition Language (MDL) logo

USD is agnostic about the way material properties are represented. NVIDIA is working to let artists author materials for cinema-quality rendering using an automated process that produces simpler but still high-quality shaders in real time.

To achieve this, NVIDIA has developed an open-source, GPU-friendly Material Definition Language (MDL) with an associated distiller that simplifies shaders for preview and virtual reality (VR) applications. The NVIDIA MDL SDK has been adopted by many application developers, including Adobe®, ChaosGroup, and Epic’s Unreal Engine.

To advance MDL-based workflows, we’ve also created a specification for referencing MDL in USD and have developed Omniverse plug-ins.

Learn More About MDL Learn More About MDL Schema Learn More About SDK NVIDIA MDL SDK documentation
Material Definition Language (MDL) material examples

MDL material examples

Learn About USD Physics

Learn More About USD Physics Schema

Alliance for OpenUSD

Pixar, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and NVIDIA have formed AOUSD, an open, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the standardization, development, evolution, and growth of OpenUSD.

Visit the Forum Read the Latest Updates

OpenUSD Developer Program

Announcing the NVIDIA developer program that will give you access to curated OpenUSD resources, samples, and RunUSD, the OpenUSD content validation service. Sign up and be notified at launch.

Sign Up Now