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.

NVIDIA Omniverse - The Collaboration Platform for 3D Content Creation (1:16)

USD Binaries and Utilities

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.

Public domain USD scene file

  • NVIDIA USD Sample File
    File: "Old Attic Interior Scene"
    Artist: David Lesperance

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

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