[Bf-cycles] Fwd: [osl-dev] Lots of OSL developments last year

Thomas Dinges blender at dingto.org
Tue Jan 15 02:30:48 CET 2013

Hi everyone,
I thought I'd share this recent mail by Larry Gritz from the OSL 
project: (can also be found here: 

Best Regards,

2012 was a pretty spectacular year for OSL.  I'm still not sure what to make of it all.

After years of everybody seeing our public development, but not actual film footage, the first three all-OSL feature films finally hit the theaters: Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Hotel Transylvania.  Next up: Oz the Great and Powerful (practically "in the can", releases in March), The Smurfs 2 (July), Cloudy 2 (September), as well as additional films that have not yet been announced.

Just as interestingly, there have been a whole lot of important non-SPI developments in the OSL world:

* Blender, an open source VFX app (modeling, animation, rendering, comp, fx, everything -- and getting surprisingly powerful these days) shipped its latest version in which its fancy path-tracing renderer Cycles uses OSL for shading, and now advertises it as a major feature.  http://libregraphicsworld.org/blog/entry/blender-2.65-released

* Autodesk's latest shipping version of "Beast" -- a commercial game development tool for interactive asset authoring and offline baking of light maps and precomputed GI -- has at its core a path tracer that uses OSL as its shading language. Beast is embedded as the light mapper in the Unity engine, and has a tie-in with the Unreal Engine 3 as well, so some portion of the (large) number of people programming for those engines will come into contact with OSL.

* VRay says its next major release (as I understand, out in beta now, but not officially shipping) has a way to use OSL shaders.

(Aside: I invite the authors of those tools to post more extensive descriptions of the tools and how they use OSL. I pray that I have not badly mangled your fine products in my brief summaries.)

The combination of these has greatly expanded the number of people directly using OSL on a daily basis, probably by orders of magnitude.  In addition to a whole lot of code contributions in the last several weeks from outside people (mostly help ensuring the OSL system builds and runs properly on Windows and certain Linux distros, but also some great bug fixes and cleanup), we've also seen web sites popping up like weeds that have OSL tutorials, shaders, and help.  They are in various stages of maturity, but it's interesting to see the grass-roots stuff popping up, like, just to pick a few examples:


http://blenderthings.blogspot.co.uk/   (Ha, I like that somebody wrote an OSL shader that works equally well for German hagelslag chocolate sprinkle cake, or Bacillus subtilis bacteria, take your pick)




https://github.com/sambler/osl-shaders   (a GitHub project full of OSL shaders)

Now that people outside SPI are becoming increasingly dependent upon it, I will be more organized about branching and tagging stable releases that people can rely on as being well-tested, production-proven, and not subject to daily changes or breaks in compatibility.  (In fact, I'm expecting to do one within a couple weeks.)  And of course, we continue to add features and improve performance all the time, so I hope to see lots of great improvements happening continuously.

At SPI, we build our in-house renderer straight from the OSL "master" top-of-tree on GitHub, so you guys see every fix and improvement we make the second we check it in for our own use. That also means that despite our strongly urging you to use a stable release branch, the master tends to have any instabilities or bugs fixed IMMEDIATELY, since our productions depend on it working any time we do a new renderer build for production.

So, anyway, thanks to everybody who has worked hard to make this happen!  If 2013 is even half as chock-full of OSL developments as 2012 was, we will certainly be exceeding any reasonable expectations we once had for its success.

	-- lg

Larry Gritz
lg at larrygritz.com / lg at imageworks.com

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