Pixar's USD now not only in 3D Mesh Apps but also CAD and BIM?

Please enlighten me.

Pixar’s USD, open source, looks like a great format to collaborate between
different proprietary software. Not only 3D but also CAD and BIM if I got that right.
From its origin and initial purpose at Pixar’s needs, with its features it offers today,
it looks like a well thought out file format for collaboration with lots of features
in that area.

For the CAD/BIM side I see that Nvidia is already hefty trying to put their
proprietary hat over by offering partly free Software and Cloud for it (like Cuda ?)

Now with SP4, my Vectorworks CAD offers an Nvidia Connector for Omniverse.
OK, Windows only, ok, even Nvidia RTX GPU only.
But all 3D Apps work on, or already have USD import/export, but now even the
whole Acad CAD/BIM/3D seems to jump into (getting control over ?) USD,
like they did with IFC …

Will USD be a supportive format for Speckle ?
(Import/export is not enough, we would need “Connectors”/lossless Exchange)
or make Speckle obsolete ?
Will USD be supported at all, will Speckle take the Connector role ?

While there is some overlap between Omniverse and Speckle, we haven’t heard a compelling argument to dedicate a Connector to or from it.

With regard to USD, this is an interesting and performant file format. The only files Speckle deals with are for importing open format data from software we don’t yet have Connectors for. The USD format API is available under a modified Apache 2.0 licence - akin to Speckle - so it could fit as an import format for similar purposes. It is entirely possible and feasible that a community project could produce such USD > Speckle conversions as IFCjs enables.

There are no egress file formats from Speckle at this time.


This is what I got so far from USDFormats too.

But USD is open source, widely adopted in 3D and now also showing
some overlapping or capabilities in also CAD/BIM.
While Companies like Nvidia already seem to take over USD into their propriety
control of their commercial purposes, similar like CUDA.

OK I tested a bit of USD and exported something from Vectorworks.
USD re-import needed much more time, but looks really cool.
Geometry, UVW, Textures, Materials, scale, rotation, position looks
But just a bunch of Meshes, at least named (!) Groups, but as VW
does not deal very well with Meshes (Selection and such)
no fun to use if you need to edit it.
But I see a great future for library element imports, like furniture
and such, that you do not need to edit.

Blender’s USD seems to be at the beginning …
(I hope Apple will help them and adress this after full Metal and Mx support)
Both VW and Blende Files are in Meters, both Blender and VW have Z Axis up,
but USD in Blender is rotated and scale is off by 100 or 1000.
Hard to estimate as also one VW Stair is totally of scale and occludes the
healthy rest of Geometry.
Strangely, in my last Modo v15 (2-3 yers behind), while Modo always Y Axis up,
it comes in still/also rotated ?

Both Blender and Modo show access to Texture Images but do not really show
them in Materials (?) - I think maybe another scaling issue - for UVW.

So for now, VW USD exports look best imported in VW, although you can not do
much with it.

Nevertheless, VW USD (early) support was done in collaboration with Nvidia.
And Nvidia seems to have great ambitions to further develop and extend
Open Source USD format.
As it already would have the potential to offer are pretty lossless 3D exchange
and collaboration.
(Not sure if VW’s USD updates will continue as much when Nvidia leaves ?)

And it has all potential to manage really large data sets. Basically a “digital
Twin” of our whole cities or earth, as allowing al kind of simplification tricks
to reload details in real time, e.g. Nanite or Lumen from Unreal Engine
and such, to display a whole Big City still in real time.
Also I think that that USD, via Metadata, would ideally, finally allow a lossless
exchange even between 3D and CAD/BIM. (keeping Solid information and such)
If support USD feature speed will be faster than 20 years of IFC support and such …

So currently I am really very excited about USD.
(I follow it superficially since a few years but thought we were still at its beginning,
which looks like being not that wrong)
I think development speed and support are now rising exponentially.
(Thanks to also Nvidia, unfortunately. I have a PC beside Mac,
but obviously not invited by my AMD RX 6800 GPU)

As Nvidia started to build all their (freemium) Apps directly on USD format !
I think this is (illusionary but) maybe the best 3D File Format to build a 3D
App on for todays and future needs.

But finally,
if there will some time be 95% lossless USD exports and import from Apps,
we still want real Exchange between different Apps over USD.
Via Connectors !

And this is exactly where Speckle comes into place !

So in that sense, I think a USD direct Upload - like for IFC - could help
by enriching projects by adding entourage like furniture or plants, …
but also reduce exchange lossiness for 3D Apps in the near future.
(Wide adoption by Apple, Meta, Nvidia, …, open source)
and in the far future even help 3D to CAD/BIM exchange and collaboration (?)

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I’ve been exploring USD more. At first I was really dismissive of it. However it can scale very very well. What could usually only be aggregated in NWC and seen in Navisworks, can now be aggregated in USD and viewed on the Apple previewer. I would encourage the speckle team to explore how Speckle’s mission can benefit and be amplified from the investments going into the USD ecosystems by other large players. I’d be happy to join any discovery sessions and offer my personal thoughts.