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.

Learn more about USD's history and how we use it ourselves at NVIDIA: To 3D and Beyond: Pixar’s USD Coming to an Industry Near You

USD Pre-built Libraries and Tools

Video Tutorials

 USD Tutorials and Examples for video above

USD Sample Assets

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

NVIDIA USD Attic Sample
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


USD sample scene

PIXAR Kitchen Set

You will need to review and accept Pixar’s license agreement before downloading the file.

Download from PIXAR

ALab USD sample scene

Animal Logic - USD ALab

The USD ALab data set is the Animal Logic interpretation and implementation of real world production and pipeline concepts. There are two downloads available, including guiding documents and two sets of textures.

Read Me Download from Animal Logic

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

USD Physics