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Building the Open Metaverse

Blending Art and Tech: How Pixar CTO Steve May Pioneers Animation Tools and Aims to Standardize 3D for the Open Metaverse

Building the Open Metaverse
Building the Open Metaverse

Pixar CTO Steve May has spent 25 years in animation and visual effects, pioneering tools behind classics like Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and Cars. In the 1990s, Pixar faced fundamental challenges in making 90-minute animated films. May helped develop new techniques like animated fur and realistic water. The pace of innovation was intense with unsolved problems.

Now May spearheads cutting-edge pipelines using Universal Scene Description (USD), an open standard he co-created. He chairs the new Alliance for OpenUSD to evolve USD into a formal international standard. The goal is making USD the "common currency" for exchanging 3D content in the metaverse.

May aims to fuse technology and art. At Pixar, he ensures engineers and animators work closely together. While productions drive most development, May carves out time for long-term R&D like USD. He values sharing ideas, citing Pixar's culture of research and publishing.

On AI, May is excited about "artist in the loop" tools that accelerate creativity rather than replace artists. He believes storytelling in VR/AR is still early but sees huge potential for Pixar's immersive stories. Real-time tools are critical so artists get instant feedback. May wants graphics programs to blend computer science and the arts, as creativity arises from their intersection.

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