Great news for computer animators... the 'secret sauce' used by Pixar has been released under an open source license (what isn't getting open sourced these days! =)
"Last week at SIGGRAPH, Pixar Animation Studios announced OpenSubdiv, an open source implementation of the Renderman subdivision surface technology, thus releasing the patents to the long standing Pixar 'secret sauce.' In addition to the offline subdivision scheme, it also includes a GPU implementation. This video demonstrates a realtime deforming subdivision surface running at 50 FPS in Maya (though it is freely available to use anywhere). The source code is available on Pixar's GitHub account."http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/08/11/1942233/pixar-demos-newly-open-sourced-opensubdiv-graphics-tech
"OpenSubdiv is a set of open source libraries that implement high performance subdivision surface (subdiv) evaluation on massively parallel CPU and GPU architectures. This codepath is optimized for drawing deforming subdivs with static topology at interactive framerates. The resulting limit surface matches Pixar’s Renderman to numerical precision.
OpenSubdiv is covered by the Microsoft Public License, and is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use. This is the same code that Pixar uses internally for animated film production. Our intent is to encourage high performance accurate subdiv drawing by giving away the “good stuff”.
The source code for OpenSubdiv is located on github and is entering open beta for SIGGRAPH 2012. Feel free to use it and let us know what you think through the github site.
Platforms supported: Windows, Linux, limited OSX."http://graphics.pixar.com/opensubdiv