What is Universal Scene Description?

Universal Scene Description (USD) is an open and extensible framework and ecosystem for describing, composing, simulating and collaborating within 3D worlds, originally developed by Pixar Animation Studios. USD is more than a file format, it’s an open source 3D scene description used for 3D 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 industries.

Pixar Universal Scene Description (USD)

Learn about USD at NVIDIA.

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 tracing technology.

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 about how USD is the language of the metaverse .

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 is one of the best ways to start exploring Universal Scene Description. NVIDIA provides USDView pre-built and configured so that you can get started right away. Download USDView from the Omniverse Launcher and consult the USDView documentation to learn more.

Download Omniverse Launcher

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. We’re offering pre-built libraries as well as the accompanying USD Toolset for download. This package will help you get started developing tools that take advantage of USD.

USD 22.11, Python 3.7
For Windows
Download now
USD 22.11, Python 3.7
For Linux
Download now

Download 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

Try the Activision USD Shell Extension.

Activision has released a powerful Windows Shell Extension for the Pixar USD file format. It adds a Hydra realtime preview, thumbnail support, context menus and metadata properties in Windows Explorer as well as metadata search in Windows Search

Learn more

Watch the tutorials.

Getting started with USD for collaborative 3D workflows.

In this self-paced course, participants will learn how to generate a scene using human-readable Universal Scene Description ASCII (.USDA) files. Upon completion, participants will be able to create their own scenes within the USD framework and will have a strong foundation to use it in Omniverse and applications such as Maya, Unity, and Unreal Engine.

The training includes two sections:

  • USD Fundamentals: An introduction to the basics of USD, no programming knowledge required.
  • Advanced USD: A demonstration of how to use Python to generate USD files.

Try the course

Watch the latest USD tutorials.

Download USD sample assets.

SimReady Warehouse

NVIDIA SimReady Warehouse Assets

Download NVIDIA Omniverse.

Download 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

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 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

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 be able to 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®, Allegorithmic, and Epic’s Unreal Studio.

To advance its use, we’ve created a specification 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.

Material Definition Language (MDL) material examples MDL material examples

Learn about USD Physics.