WPP puts itself at the heart of collaborative 3D worlds

Pixar's 3D animation file format – Universal Scene Description (USD) – is the invisible building block of our digital 3D future. WPP is at the centre of this future, says WPP’s Perry Nightingale 

WPP has joined the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOUSD) – an open, non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the interoperability of 3D content through OpenUSD – alongside Apple, NVIDIA, Adobe and others. They are working together to shape this technology that will transform the future.

What is a USD file? It is a file format that provides a digital mirror of an object in the physical world, and it also provides product continuity and fidelity to creators across complex supply chains and organisations. 

And why is it important? In the same way that the 2D digital world was transformed by HTML, so our 3D digital world will be transformed by USD and AI. Why? Because, as companies and products become too complex to manage with the screens and pages, organisations will turn to 3D representations of their data. There must be a standard way of saving these 3D files if there is to be collaboration.

Now, WPP has put itself at the heart of this Alliance because it is dedicated to building 3D USD-powered digital marketing solutions for its clients globally – with USD technology delivering unprecedented speed and efficiency. 

This is not the first time WPP has put itself in this space. In 2022 it announced that it was working with NVIDIA to combine photo-realistic images of vehicles – in any configuration using WPP’s growing library of virtual sets, rendered at unprecedented speed – to achieve transformational digital experiences. And NVIDIA Omniverse is the world’s leading USD platform. It allows WPP to build 3D AI-powered marketing solutions for its clients globally.

But the AOUSD is ultimately about everyone in a digital supply chain speaking the same digital language – in the shape of USD files – so that artists, engineers and creators can produce the 3D digital world of the future, together. 

A problem to solve

As with all good technology, the development of USD was about Pixar trying to solve a problem. This problem was: how could it make it easier for artists to move 3D concepts between the different digital creative tools they were using? Importantly, when it developed USD to achieve this aim, Pixar also open sourced it. 

But, to take it to the next level – to make it a standard – the industry must develop a specification. That’s what the AOUSD is all about. The Alliance is the standardisation body that will take the open-source solution and create a specification around it that enables the future of interoperability in 3D digital creation.

And this is the perfect time for an open standard; it will enable a whole new generation of content creation – from existing and new content creators – to bring their vision and imagination to the digital world to create the digital future. 

The founding members of the Alliance have come together to decide what this standardisation process should mean and, most importantly, what it should mean for tomorrow. And tomorrow is not only about 3D graphics in the advertising and film industries, but also in other industries through the use, say, of digital twins and in industries such as space and medicine where the opportunities for collaboration across 3D environments will also be immense.

So, the reason standardisation of 3D file formats is so important is that it will guarantee true interoperability by every creator to avoid fragmentation. 

Allied to lead

Great leadership is always needed to overcome business and societal challenges. With this Alliance there has been the coming together of the best minds from across digital industries to deliver a common standard that is essential for business success. 

But we are also witnessing great leadership that anticipates the future. Yes, the 3D animation industry experienced the problem first and Pixar’s USD solution was the response to that, but all industries need to move information around, and they need to be able to do so in a way that works for all.

So the big story here is not about USD alone; it's about what it will enable over the horizon. In the same way HTML enabled the advent of the internet, so USD will enable 3D worlds. Ultimately, USD is the way companies and creators will organise their information to deliver efficiency while demonstrating vision and imagination. 

The 3D world is coming to us – we will not have to go to it – and USD will be the underpinning technology that brings that future to us.

Perry Nightingale


published on

19 March 2024


Technology & innovation

Related Topics

Capitalising on creativity Artificial intelligence Tech & Digital Services Industry insight

More in Technology & innovation

A road in Brazil lined with trees and large skyscrapers

Driving innovation: How Brazil leads in creative and media integration

In Brazil, the integration of creative and media capabilities is not just a trend – it’s a proven formula for success

Four animated characters engaged in dynamic actions with colourful light beams against a dark background, involving flying, playing guitar, and racing.

How to build your brand in-game

A new research report from WPP and SuperAwesome