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OpenEXR and OpenCue Become Academy Software Foundation Projects

By May 1, 2019August 27th, 2020No Comments

OpenEXR, a widely-adopted HDR image file format, and OpenCue, a recently launched render manager, join the growing roster of Academy Software Foundation projects

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum for open source software development in the motion picture and media industries, today announced that OpenEXR and OpenCue have been accepted by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) as Academy Software Foundation projects alongside OpenVDB and OpenColorIO.

Initially developed by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), OpenEXR is an Academy Scientific and Technical Award winning high dynamic-range (HDR) image file format for use in computer imaging applications. It is a widely-adopted standard in computer graphics for linear and interactive media.

OpenCue is a fully featured, open source render manager for media and entertainment that can be used to break down complex jobs into individual tasks. Developed in collaboration by Google Cloud and Sony Pictures Imageworks, OpenCue is an evolution of Sony’s internal queuing system, Cue 3.

“This announcement marks a new phase for the Academy Software Foundation. We’ve achieved our initial goal of accepting OpenVDB, OpenColorIO, and OpenEXR – projects which greatly influenced the Foundation’s formation – and we are now ready to support and drive collaboration around newer projects like OpenCue,” David Morin, Executive Director of Academy Software Foundation. “Studios and developers are finding value in having a neutral home for the open source projects that our industry relies on, and we look forward to growing our projects and continuing to find new ways to support to the broader open source community.”

OpenEXR and OpenCue join OpenVDB and OpenColorIO as projects in the incubation stage at the Academy Software Foundation. All newly accepted projects start in incubation while they work to meet the high standards of the Academy Software Foundation and later graduate to full adoption. This allows the Academy Software Foundation to consider and support projects at different levels of maturity and industry adoption, as long as they align with the Foundation’s mission to increase the quality and quantity of contributions to the content creation industry’s open source software base.

One of the foundational technologies in computer imaging, OpenEXR is a standard HDR image file format for high-quality image processing and storage. It features higher dynamic range and color precision than existing 8- and 10-bit image file formats, and the latest version of OpenEXR supports multiple image compression algorithms, stereoscopic workflows, multi-part files and deep data.

“For us, the single most important thing we create are the images that we put on screen, and we’ve all come to trust the OpenEXR format with our most precious data. ILM’s decision over 15 years ago to make EXR available as an open source project for the filmmaking community arguably set in motion an industry-wide trend that fostered collaboration and shared advancement, eventually culminating in the creation of the Academy Software Foundation. We’re proud to contribute OpenEXR to a new home to ensure it remains a robust and stable project for years to come,” said Francois Chardavoine, Head of Production Technology, Industrial Light & Magic.

OpenEXR was developed in 1999 by ILM in response to the demand for higher color fidelity in the visual effects industry. It was released to the public as an open source library in 2003, and it has since been widely-used and maintained through code contributions from companies including Weta Digital, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Pixar Animation Studios, Autodesk, and DreamWorks, among others. OpenEXR was honored with an Academy Scientific and Technical Award in 2007.

OpenEXR is ILM’s main image file format and has been used in all motion pictures that ILM contributes visual effects work to since 2000. The first movies to employ OpenEXR were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Men in Black II, Gangs of New York, and Signs. Recent films include Solo: A Star Wars Story, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Developers interested in learning more or contributing to OpenEXR can visit the OpenEXR Github page.

Images from Solo: A Star Wars Story. © and TM Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Developed by Google Cloud and Sony Pictures Imageworks, OpenCue provides a Python- based, fully scriptable tool for artists and studios that want a fully featured render manager. Features include a configurable dispatch queue, support for multi-facility, on-premises, cloud, and hybrid deployments, and a highly-scalable architecture supporting numerous concurrent machines.

OpenCue is based on Sony’s internal queuing system, Cue3, which has been developed and used in production at Sony over the past 15 years to schedule and manage tens of thousands of shots over hundreds of projects (over 150,000 simultaneous cores run so far in a hybrid environment).

Developers interested in learning more or contributing to OpenCue can visit the OpenCue Github page.

OpenCue screenshot

About the Academy Software Foundation
Developed in partnership by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation, the Academy Software Foundation provides a neutral forum for open source software developers in the motion picture and broader media industries to share resources and collaborate on technologies for image creation, visual effects, animation and sound. The Foundation is home to OpenVDB, OpenColorIO, OpenEXR and OpenCue.  For more information or to get involved in the Academy Software Foundation, visit

About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure, including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users, and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at

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