[Feature Request] Adopt OpenTimeLineIO as first class timeline format

Please could the Omniverse team adopt the Academy Software Foundation’s (ASF’s) ‘OpenTimeLineIO’ schema as the native USD schema for timeline and sequencer data within Omniverse, for both animation and video editing.

As a technical director, I want an open standards way of representing editorial cut and animation sequencing information within USD files and framework, and to be able to exchange that information with other tools such as Blender, DaVinci Resolve, Avid, Maya and Adobe Premiere, so that I and my team can work efficiently and collaboratively with the best tools for the job and the tools with which they are most comfortible and productive; and so that we can constantly adopt new tools and new ways of working, without worrying about data conversion problems.

OpenTimelineIO (OTIO) is an API and interchange format for editorial cut information, originated within Pixar and widely supported by the industry. You can think of it as a modern Edit Decision List (EDL) that also includes an API for reading, writing, and manipulating editorial data. It also includes a plugin system for translating to/from existing editorial formats as well as a plugin system for linking to proprietary media storage schemas.

OTIO supports clips, timing, tracks, transitions, markers, metadata, etc. Video and audio is referenced by, rather than embedded within the OTIO data structure. ASF encourage 3rd party vendors, animation studios and visual effects studios to work together as a community to provide adaptors for each video editing tool and pipeline.

DaVinci Resolve has recently added both initial support for USD and support for importing and exporting their timeline information in OTIO format. Similarly, Maya supports USD, and the Maya adaptor for OTIO can read and write Maya Sequencer data. Supporting OTIO natively within USD would allow direct interchange of sequencing information between any tool that understands both USD and the OTIO schema. Adaptors also exist for Blender (https://studio.blender.org/blog/opentimelineio-in-blender/), Avid and Final Cut Pro XML (FCP and Premiere) amongst others.

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This would be so useful for animation clip sequencing. I am used to blending the end of one clip into the next for a smoother transition, or blending in and out an override pose of say just the upper body, or a head turn. (OTIO calls them “transitions”.) Without this the current sequencer is rather limited.

My understanding is that OTIO is a separate schema unrelated to USD. I didn’t find any mapping of OTIO to USD or discussions about integrating the two despite both originating from Pixar. Keep in mind that Stages are generally used to represent shots, not sequences. It could be beneficial in previs, but what you’d likely see is that once a sequence moves into production, OTIO is parsed to generate/update USD stages per shot and then the rendered media from each shot would be ingested back into OTIO for Editorial to continue to working on the reel.

That doesn’t mean that OTIO couldn’t be the backing format for Sequencer or at the very least support import/export of OTIO. I’ll check with the dev team to see if there’s been any more thought around that.