Google and Pixar add Draco Compression to Universal Scene Description (USD) Format

Google and Pixar have collaborated to add Draco compression to USD files to enable significantly smaller meshes for transmission, and real-time asset delivery on the web or in mobile applications.

Draco is an open source compression library to improve the storage and transmission of 3D assets—including compressing points, connectivity information, texture coordinates, color information, normals and any other attributes associated with geometry.

With Draco, applications can present complex 3D assets to the user much more quickly without compromising visual fidelity. For users this means apps can now be downloaded faster, 3D graphics can load quicker, and transmitted over any type of network, regardless of bandwidth.

USD addresses the need to robustly and scalably interchange and augment arbitrary 3D scenes that may be composed from many models and animations. USD also enables assembly and organization of any number of assets into virtual sets, scenes, and shots, transmit them from application to application, and non-destructively edit them (as overrides), with a single, consistent API, in a single scenegraph. USD provides a rich toolset for reading, writing, editing, and rapidly previewing 3D geometry and shading.

We tested Draco compression performance on a representative set of of USD objects and found that Draco on average compressed objects by more than 15X. On a typical 4G network, these assets would load 2.5X faster, all while using less of your users’ data plan.

Public Domain model Kore dressed in chiton and cape from SMK National Gallery of Denmark compressed 15X with Draco. 

Compressing USD objects with Draco enables a wide range of use cases moving forward, especially when delivering run-time assets to consumer devices. Anything from 3D commerce to complex AR scenes can benefit from reduced data requirements and quicker time to launch.

We look forward to seeing what people do with this combination of Draco compression and USD format. Check out the code on GitHub and let us know what you think and how you plan to use it!

By F. Sebastian Grassia, Pixar and Jamieson Brettle, Chrome Media