SIGGRAPH: Autodesk gains exclusive license of Disney technology
August 9, 2011

SIGGRAPH: Autodesk gains exclusive license of Disney technology

VANCOUVER — Autodesk ( and Walt Disney Pictures ( are working together to bring animation and visual effects technology to the broader digital entertainment creation community. Autodesk has obtained an exclusive five-year license of the XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator technology (XGen), used most recently by Walt Disney Animation Studios in the animated film Tangled.

XGen technology was first presented by Walt Disney Animation Studios at SIGGRAPH in 2003 as a research paper for the creation of computer-generated fur, feathers and foliage. Since then, XGen has evolved and been refined on seven features, three shorts and one TV show. It is a comprehensive system for generating arbitrary primitives on a surface. It allows artists access to interpolation in an intuitive manner.

XGen has been used to create the fur, hair, feathers, trees, leaves and rocks in Bolt; the trees and bushes in Up; the dust bunnies, debris, trees, bushes, clover and flowers in Toy Story 3; and the grass and trees featured in Cars 2. In the film Tangled, Walt Disney Animation Studios used XGen to bring the lavish 3D animated world to life, including Rapunzel’s golden locks and the film’s lush, vegetation-filled landscapes. 

Disney’s senior development software engineer Tom Thompson was an initial creator XGen and remains its chief architect. The agreement with Autodesk will enable Autodesk to make the technology available to artists to create digital entertainment. 

Walt Disney Animation Studios has contributed numerous innovations to the entertainment industry over the years, including the open source projects SeExpr, Reposado, munki, and Partio. Autodesk has integrated two other Disney technologies into its software — the Maya Camera Sequencer and Ptex. The animation studio's Camera Sequencer was introduced in Maya 2011 and provides multicamera editorial capabilities for previsualization and virtual moviemaking. The Ptex texture mapping system was incorporated into Maya 2012 and Mudbox 2012. It enables artists to create detailed, textured models quickly and efficiently.