Alembic (Computer Graphics)

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Alembic logo.svg
Filename extension .abc
Developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks,
Initial release August 9, 2011 (2011-08-09)[1]
Latest release
(March 28, 2014; 19 months ago (2014-03-28)[2])
Type of format Exchange format for computer graphics
Open format? Yes

Alembic is an interchange file format for computer graphics used by visual effects and animation professionals. It was announced at SIGGRAPH 2011,[1] and has been widely adopted across the industry.

Its primary focus is the interchange of geometry (models) between different groups working on the same shots or same assets. This is often different departments in the same company or different studios working on the same projects. Alembic supports the common geometric representations used in the industry, including polygon meshes, subdivision surface, parametric curves, NURBS patches and particles. Alembic also has support for transform hierarchies and cameras. With the latest version comes initial support for materials and lights as well. Alembic is very specifically NOT concerned with storing the complex dependency graph of procedural tools but instead stores the "baked" results.[3]

Alembic was developed as an open source library primarily by Sony Pictures Imageworks[4] and Lucasfilm.[5]

Tools which support Alembic[edit]

Tools with native support[edit]

Application As of version Vendor
Maya 2012 Autodesk[6]
3ds Max 2016 Autodesk[7]
KATANA 1.1 The Foundry[8]
Houdini 11.1 Side Effects Software[9]
RenderMan  ? Pixar[10]
Arnold  ? Solid Angle[11]
MODO 601 The Foundry[12]
NUKE 7.0 The Foundry[13]
Cinema 4D R14 Maxon[14]
V-Ray 2012 Chaos Group[15]
Guerilla Render 0.15.2 Mercenaries Engineering[16]
RealFlow 2013 Next Limit[17]
Maxwell Render 3 Next Limit
Clarisse iFX 2012 Isotropix
LightWave 3D 11.6 NewTek[18]
Keyshot Pro 4 Luxion
Octane Render 1.5 Otoy


Plugin Applications supported Vendor
Crate Suite 3DS Max, Maya, Softimage, Arnold Exocortex
AtomKraft Nuke, After Effects Jupiter Jazz[19]
Ortholab Mudbox Ortholab[20]
DF Plugin 3DS Max Digital Frontier[21]
Alembic Exporter DAZ Studio DAZ 3D[22]


  • Alembic is named after a bar of the same name in the Upper Haight neighborhood of San Francisco.[citation needed]
  • The octopus in Alembic's logo is inspired by the name of Sony's previous format, Tako, which is the Japanese word for octopus. The logo also incorporates a yin-yang symbol, representing the symmetry between the input and output functions of the Alembic API.[citation needed]


External links[edit]