Archives For pixar usd

I know most of you aren’t interested in this, but hey, there has to be at least one other dickhead out there that wants to compile the USD Plugins for Windows.
We need to install a couple things, namely Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 Community, and also CMake. Get them below. When installing Visual Studio grab all the C++ add ons.

Microsoft Visual Studio


Okay, so lets get to it. We need to grab the houdini toolkit folder, located in;
“C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini 17.0.459\toolkit” for example. Copy and paste the toolkit (and obviously all it’s contents) to somewhere. I have whacked mine in here: W:\dev\toolkit but put it wherever you want. We need to set a couple environment variables in order for everything to work.


Let’s make a new environment variable and append the path variable. Remember this is the “User variables for YourName” section, not the System Variables. Make your new var CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH and fill in the path the cmake directory.


And now, let’s append the user path variable. Edit this bad boy, and hit new to append our path to the bin folder.


Sweet azz. Now let’s keep moving, it’s already making me sleepy. In the root of the usd_houdini_plugins folder, which for me is: W:\dev\toolkit\usd_houdini_plugins\
make a folder called “build.” Now In here is a “CMakeLists.txt” file. The default output is to dump everything into C:\Users\YourName\Documents\houdini17.0\ and this is shit. It will be dumped in with everything else, and be hard to fish out. If you don’t care about this, ignore the below custom output location set up. But for those who want to keep it out of there, see below!

Here’s the Vanilla, let’s delete stuff. Remove all the if >>> down to endif, and set your path to where you want to output the data.


Below is what I’ve cleaned it up to. It’s where all my houdini/pipeline tools live.


And here is the append line to make the DSO go to your custom locale. Just add the INSTDIR pathto\\where you added in above\\dso in the line below, and you’re gold.


Here is my CMakeLists.txt
Okey dokey, with that done, open a command prompt and CD to the build folder we made earlier. Now your prompt is at W:\dev\toolkit\usd_houdini_plugins\build> (obviously your location is different!) let’s do some hacking.

run: cmake -G “Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64” ../  and wait for the magic. Here’s a boring gif of the process for sheer entertainment.


Amazing. I feel like Neo, I’m sure a pill offering is on the near horizon for me. Hop inside the build folder and you can see all our hard work. Double click the following: “usd_houdini_plugins.sln” this will launch Visual Studio, all ready to rock n roll.

All we need to do is select the “install” and go and change from “debug” to “release” then right click “install” and “build”


Once it’s all done, you’ll get some sexy confirmation messages in the output window. If it all went to plan, there will be all the USD Plugins in the location you chose earlier.


Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! Now add this to your houdini.env file:                          HOUDINI_PATH = “W:/Pipeline/Houdini_USD;&”

We made it Wendell! I hope you managed to stay awake for this. I didn’t. Here’s a zipped up binary built against 17.0.459 for you lazy bastards Houdini USD Plugins








Pixar USD on Windows 10

January 4, 2019

Well after a mind-numbing experience building USD on Windows, a feat I won’t be repeating in a hurry, due to how shit it is, I present a much easier route, which results in minimal hair loss. Victor Yudin has been busy compiling and releasing USD + goodies under his saturn github.

It comes with UsdView, Embree plugin, Maya 2018 plug, MaterialX, and OSL support. Hurray! Thank Jesus. What we will do is get his compiled version up and running, bind the cmd file to the .usd extension so we can just double-click, and even add a USD icon!
It will be, almost useful.

Grab this version:

As the latest Houdini 17 USD plugins(which we will compile in the next exciting episode)
are built against v18.11, not the more recent v19.01, simple huh?


So once we unzip it’s almost ready to go, except that the “usdview.cmd” script inside the bin folder only contains the following:

@python “%~dp0usdview” %*

We need to add some more info in here to help point everything to the correct versions/locations of all the shit it needs. So delete that lonely line, and fill  the script with the following.

@set BINP=%~dp0
@set LIBP=%~dp0..\lib
@set PYP=%~dp0..\lib\python
@start pythonw “%~dp0usdview” %*

This is so simple, it feels like installing a Windows 98 screen saver. Let’s continue! Next on the list is testing out our setup to see if UsdView launches. Now is a good time to grab some USD data, head on over to: and grab the kitchen set. Once you’ve unpacked, we need to open a terminal, and cd to the bin folder. the command for launching is simply: usdview “path/to/usd” see below.


Like the Angel in it’s a Wonderful Life, you just have to believe you are making a difference, and to hang on. Let’s see what happens….


Huzzah! We made it Wendell. By default the viewport is the hydra openGL, but Victor compiled Embree too, so if we go to View>Hydra Renderer> Embree we will toggle over to ray traced land. It’s a fair bit slower, so be mindful of zooming around. There is preliminary AOV support in this mode.


And prim ID and Normal AOVs.



Sweet. Now this is all good and well, and we could/should create a shell working environment that has usdview in the path, etc, etc, but let’s go all out lazy Windows double-click shall we?

The file extension .usd isn’t registered in Windows, so we need to do this manually. Fire up a terminal in “admin-super-overlord-mode”

type the following: ftype extfile=”W:\Pipeline\usd\bin\usdview.cmd” “%1”

obviously replace the path with your location.

Next type the following: assoc .usd=extfile

Now if you double-click the Kitchen_set.usd file it should launch usdview. For our final trick, we need to use a nice free utility, that doesn’t even install!

file types manager

Grab the x64 version here: and unzip that bad boy. Launch the application directly, and scroll on down to .usd file type.


Right click the usd extension and select “edit selected file type.” navigate to the location of the .ico file, and maybe even pop a brief description in. Here’s a link to a little USD ico file I made: usd_simple64.ico


In the next exciting installment we compile the Houdini 17 USD plugins from scratch, and demo exporting out.