What Is Universal Scene Description?

Universal Scene Description (USD) is an easily extensible, open-source 3D scene description and file format developed by Pixar for content creation and interchange among different tools. As a result of its power and versatility, it’s being widely adopted, not only in the visual effects community, but also in architecture, design, robotics, manufacturing, and other disciplines.

Pixar Universal Scene Description (USD)


USD is the foundation for NVIDIA Omniverse™, a live collaborative platform that connects a wide variety of content creation tools to each other and to our real-time NVIDIA RTX™ ray tracer. Learn more about NVIDIA Omniverse and sign up for updates here.

NVIDIA has expanded upon USD by developing new tools, integrating technologies and providing samples and tutorials.

Showcase piece created by NVIDIA to illustrate the power of RTX on the Omniverse Platform. Marbles was created by a distributed team of artists and engineers in Omniverse, assembling VFX+ quality USD assets into a fully physically simulated game level. Marbles runs on a single Quadro RTX 8000 simulating complex physics in a real-time ray traced world.

USD Binaries and Utilities

    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. We’re offering pre-built libraries as well as the accompanying tools (e.g., USDView) for download. This package will help you get started developing tools that take advantage of USD or get you up and running with USDView right away.

    USD Python 3 Bindings

    The official USD Python bindings only support Python 2, which will be at the end of life in 2020. We’re offering Python 3 bindings for the entire USD library, which enables developers to take full advantage of the Python 3 environment.

      GitHub Repo (20.02)

Tutorials and Notes

These tutorials will help Python developers new to USD learn how to perform common tasks on the scene graph, as well as learn how to be more proficient with the USD documentation.

USD Sample Assets

USD scene with MDL materials rendered in Omniverse USD scene with MDL materials rendered in Omniverse

NVIDIA USD Attic Sample

Please review the license agreement and check the box below to indicate that you accept it and wish to proceed to the download.


Material Definition Language (MDL) Schema

USD is agnostic about the way material properties are represented. At NVIDIA, we believe artists should be able to author materials for cinema-quality rendering and have an automated process that produces simpler but still high-quality shaders in real time.

To achieve this, NVIDIA has developed MDL, an open-source, GPU-friendly Material Definition Language 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®, Allegorithmic, and Epic’s Unreal Studio.

To facilitate its use, we’ve created a specification (MDL Schema) for referencing MDL in USD and have developed Omniverse plug-ins to facilitate MDL-based workflows. MDL enjoys wide and increasing adoption in the design, visual effects, and gaming industries, among others.

MDL material examples