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Open RV
Open RV

Autodesk Releases Open RV

Autodesk is committed to helping creators envision a better world, and having access to great tools allows them do just that.

it has released Open RV, the new open-source edition of RV, its Scientific and Technical Award-winning image viewer and shot playback system for visual effects and animation pipelines.

Its open-source edition, which has been released as part of the Academy Software Foundation’s Open Review Initiative. It will be maintained in parallel with the commercial edition, supporting a wider range of video formats.

A high-performance image viewer and playback system for VFX and animation production.

The history of Open RV

It was in the mid-2000s that Open RV was originally developed by Tweak Software, and acquired by Autodesk in 2015, RV is a high-performance image viewer and playback system designed for VFX and animation work.

Moreover, it was in 2016 that the software won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for allowing “studios of all sizes to take advantage of a state-of-the-art workflow”. Current users include leading Australian VFX and animation facility Animal Logic, which describes RV as “critical to its animation pipeline”.

Open-sourced as part of the Academy Software Foundation’s Open Review Initiative, Autodesk first announced its intention to open-source RV last year.

At the launch of movie industry open standards body the Academy Software Foundation’s new Open Review Initiative.

The final aim of the project

The final aim of the project was building a unified open-source toolset for shot playback, reviewing and approving. It also features two other tools, DNEG’s xSTUDIO and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ itView.

The three tools will initially maintain separate code repositories, before gradually converging into a “cohesive, state-of-the-art review and approval framework”.

Autodesk Releases Open RV
Autodesk Releases Open RV

While the open-sourcing of RV is an unusual one, the original version remains available as a commercial product, available to users with subscriptions to ShotGrid, Autodesk’s production-tracking system.

Also, the commercial edition contains elements licensed from other companies, like codecs, that it is unable to open-source.

The differences between Open RV and RV

First, Open RV supports fewer audio and video formats, lacking support for several industry-standard formats that require third-party licences, including AAC, ARRI, DNxHD/DNxHR, H.264, ProRes and RED.

Second, presentation mode is restricted to DVI and HDMI output, and lacks support for AJA or Blackmagic Design SDI hardware.

Third, Open RV isn’t available as an executable: users have to build it from source, which requires them to hold licences for any codecs or output formats they use.

We assume the intention is that studios will licence formats missing from the base open-source edition directly from the rights holders, then add them back into their own custom builds.

Open RV is described as requiring “engineering resources and users with more extensive technical backgrounds [than the commercial edition of RV]”.

The development of Open RV

Autodesk will continue to be an “active contributor” to Open RV, and will chair the ASWF technical steering committee responsible for overseeing the future development of the open edition.

The firm will also “actively participate and monitor community-driven developments in Open RV, with the intention to integrate new functionality into the commercial version of RV”.

Licensing and system requirements

The source code for Open RV is available from ASWF’s GitHub repository under an Apache 2.0 licence. It can be compiled for Windows, Linux and macOS.

The commercial edition of RV is available via ShotGrid subscriptions, which cost $45/month or $345/year.

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