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In the second edition of the “Meet the Visionary” editorial series, we’re diving deep into the world of Universal Scene Description (OpenUSD) through the eyes of Perry Nightingale, a trailblazer in digital content production whose insights are setting the stage for the next wave of digital transformation.

Perry is Senior Vice President of Creative AI at WPP, a new member of the Alliance for OpenUSD that will help shape the future of this transformative technology.


Learn more in the video:

His pioneering work is not only transforming the content production landscape at WPP but also paving the way for the integration of OpenUSD into the content creation process. His vision promises a shift towards a more efficient, sustainable, and accessible digital future.

Transforming Production at Scale

At WPP, one of the largest film production businesses globally, Perry oversees the creation of up to 200,000 pieces of content annually — which speaks volumes about the scale and efficiency OpenUSD enables. “We do about four to five thousand shoots and make about a hundred to two hundred thousand pieces of content out of that,” Perry explains, highlighting the massive scale at which WPP operates.

“WPP has embraced OpenUSD to unify the vast array of digital assets created across its network. Perry articulates the foundational role of OpenUSD in overcoming traditional barriers in digital production, stating, ‘OpenUSD is a real core element of that, and we have a shared goal to see more businesses adopt OpenUSD — it would save so much time and money [for businesses]. This adoption has streamlined workflows and significantly reduced the time from concept to market.'”

“Another area is around configurators, particularly in automotive, but it’s applicable in other industries as well, where you want to be able to configure a product,” Perry continues. Traditional methods require rendering every possible combination of product variations, which is time-consuming and costly. “But with OpenUSD, you can have one model and you can swap out those parts virtually and see what it looks like instantly,” he describes. This capability represents significant time and cost savings, making it a compelling advancement for industries reliant on customization.

A Vision for Open Standards

Perry contributes to the broader vision of OpenUSD that extends beyond efficiency gains. He foresees a unified digital ecosystem where different elements — from VFX and 3D models to marketing assets — can seamlessly interact through a common OpenUSD framework. This approach not only enhances productivity but also ensures consistency and quality across different platforms and projects.

One of Perry’s driving ambitions is to make OpenUSD accessible and beneficial on a global scale. He argues that adopting this technology can lead to significant improvements in project management and cost efficiency. Perry passionately explains, “The key saving for our clients with OpenUSD is not money — it’s time. And the quicker you can get your products to market, the faster you can start selling them.”

Perry also addresses the inherent challenges in adopting such technologies, emphasizing the need for significant organizational change. “We have a dedicated team of experts in OpenUSD and they help our clients make that [organizational] change.” His commitment to this cause is evident as he discusses his role in promoting OpenUSD adoption: “For our role in AOUSD, it’s very much helping share our experience with that.” Perry is dedicated not only to using OpenUSD but also to actively promoting its adoption.

The Sustainable Edge of OpenUSD

One of Perry’s key advocacies with OpenUSD is its potential to drive sustainability in digital production. While OpenUSD itself may not inherently reduce environmental impact, it is the foundation for digital twins and virtual environments, which offer more sustainable alternatives to traditional production methods.

By utilizing OpenUSD to create digital twins and virtual photography, industries such as automotive and advertising can minimize their reliance on physical resources and reduce carbon emissions associated with activities like on-location shoots. Perry illustrates this concept with a practical example: “We utilize this robot dog to scan the environment while we’re out shooting from the car. It helps us capture the data, which we then convert into an OpenUSD file. Bringing this file back allows us to streamline our process significantly. Instead of requiring a large team and multiple versions of the car, we can now accomplish the task more efficiently.” Perry explains.

This focus on sustainability is critical as industries worldwide seek ways to reduce their environmental impact.

Enhancing Accessibility Through Innovation

Another key aspect of Perry’s support for the vision of OpenUSD is its potential to enhance accessibility. He is passionate about making technology usable for everyone, which involves tailoring digital environments to meet diverse needs. Perry shares his insight into how OpenUSD’s flexibility can cater to various user requirements, making technology more inclusive.

For instance, Perry highlights the potential of generative OpenUSD, where assets can be automatically generated in various formats to accommodate different accessibility needs. This innovative approach eliminates the manual design of multiple versions, streamlining the process and ensuring inclusivity in digital environments.

He also discusses the potential of using voice technology with OpenUSD, which could dramatically improve accessibility. This feature would allow users with physical disabilities to interact with digital environments through voice commands, opening up new avenues for interaction that go beyond traditional input methods.

A Vision for AI Integration

Perry’s ideas extend into the realm of artificial intelligence, where he sees OpenUSD as a crucial component in building more intelligent, responsive digital systems. “We were able to come up with products and put them out into the market in months when it used to take years,” he states, illustrating how OpenUSD combined with AI accelerates the product life cycle.

He elaborates on the synergy between OpenUSD and AI, “OpenUSD is a fundamental building block of AI, and AI needs material and matter to interact with.” This integration is poised to revolutionize how digital assets are created, managed, and deployed, enabling more dynamic and intelligent workflows.

Perry adds, “This generation of AI has been all about natural language, and combining that with OpenUSD opens the door to amazing new ways to converse with our data — we could one day have a conversation with OpenUSD digital twins of our cities or buildings.”

Envisioning the Future

Looking forward, Perry is enthusiastic about the ongoing integration of OpenUSD in creating a fully interoperable digital ecosystem that spans industries and geographies. His advocacy for OpenUSD as a universal standard is part of a broader mission to simplify digital asset management globally, reducing complexities and fostering creativity across boundaries.

“OpenUSD captures enough of that to carry across a value between different software programs but still allows the artists to use those programs for what they’re great at,” Perry describes. This vision of seamless interoperability is central to his goal of making digital workflows as efficient and effective as possible.

Reflecting on his personal motivation and broader vision, Perry shares, “If you could go back in time and tell people how big HTML was going to be, they’d be like, what are you talking about? And I constantly say to people, the biggest thing here is not going to be AI; it’s going to be OpenUSD.” His comparison of OpenUSD’s potential to foundational technologies like HTML underscores his deep belief in its transformative power and parallels historical innovations that have reshaped the entire internet.

Perry’s ideas for OpenUSD are not just about technological innovation; they’re about creating a more connected, efficient, and sustainable future. His leadership at WPP and his visionary work with OpenUSD are paving the way for transformative changes across industries, underscoring the potential for OpenUSD to revolutionize how we create, manage, and interact with digital content.

As we continue our “Meet the Visionary” series, Perry’s insights offer a compelling glimpse into the future of digital asset management, where boundaries are blurred, and possibilities are endless. Stay tuned for more visionary stories that inspire and challenge the status quo, and be sure to check out our last “Meet the Visionary” piece on Steve May at Pixar, if you missed it.

If your company is interested in joining the Alliance for OpenUSD, sign up to become a member. Follow AOUSD on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, X, and YouTube, and get support from our community of artists, designers, and developers in our forum.