It allows plug-ins (shared libraries) to interface with host applications, giving artists thousands of new tools and capabilities. It was created in 2004, and has evolved to become an industry standard under the Academy Software Foundation.
OpenFX is an open standard for creating visual effects (VFX) plug-ins.
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OpenFX is great for artists because there is no waiting for plug-in vendors to port their cool effects to your application. Once a host compositing or editing application adopts OpenFX, all OpenFX plug-ins on the market instantly become available on that host.
And OpenFX is great for plug-in vendors and application developers because they can concentrate on what they do best: making cool tools.
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What is OpenFX?
OpenFX is an open, extensible C API (application programming interface) that defines an industry-wide common interface between image-based visual effects plug-ins and host applications. Over its long history, by creating an interoperable ecosystem of plug-ins, OpenFX has become the reference standard for visual-effects and video processing software creators.
Dozens of software manufacturers, large and small, write commercial OpenFX plug-ins; some examples are Autodesk Flame, The Foundry Nuke, BlackMagic Design DaVinci Resolve and Fusion, MAGIX Vegas Pro, Boris FX Sapphire, RE:Vision Effects plug-ins, and many others (Magix, FxHome, FilmConvert, Digital Anarchy, HS-Art, Frischluft, Mikros, ABSoft, Grass Valley, NewBlue FX, SGO, Digital Vision, Toonboom, …).
Many VFX companies also produce in-house plug-ins based on the OpenFX standard, and open-source tools such as Natron also support OpenFX (both plug-ins and as a host). End users of OpenFX plug-ins probably number at least in the hundreds of thousands, likely more.
Why a standard?
By standardizing the interface between hosts and plug-ins and releasing it as open source, OpenFX has supplanted older proprietary host-specific APIs. OpenFX has made it much easier for applications to support a variety of plug-ins. It has also encouraged and allowed developers to support many host applications. Previously, VFX applications hosted plug-ins via proprietary plug-in APIs. Plug-in effect development was fragmented and developers had to pick and choose which proprietary APIs to support. This limited the third-party effects available on many applications. OpenFX allows the same plug-ins to run on multiple editing, video processing, and VFX applications with little or no modification. The net result is that artists throughout the industry now have access to a much wider set of tools, increasing their options and fostering creativity.
Artists can use hundreds of different OpenFX plug-ins, both open source and commercial, to simplify their daily workflows, enhance their creativity with new tools, and speed up common tasks. OpenFX tools can plug into your workflow at any stage, from pre-viz to post. There are OpenFX plug-ins to create beautiful effects and transitions, do advanced retiming and noise reduction, connect to cloud-based systems, and more. Many industry-standard applications support OpenFX plug-ins, meaning the same plug-ins can move with you.
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VFX plug-in vendors were frustrated for years because host application vendors created proprietary plug-in interfaces. As a result, each plug-in vendor had to port their plug-ins to all the different hosts and hosts couldn’t use each other’s plug-ins, limiting the selection of effects available to artists. That situation led to the development of OpenFX, which is now a mature standard, in broad use since 2004, proven across the industry in thousands of productions, large and small.
For host applications, whether video editing, compositing, VFX, or color correction, offering an OpenFX host gives your users access to all the OpenFX plug-ins available, both commercial and open sources. No need to develop and maintain a custom API and convince plug-in creators to port their effects to it.
The OpenFX standard is 100% open source with a BSD 3-Clause license, administered by volunteers under the auspices of the Academy Software Foundation, and all development is done transparently. You are welcome to contribute! We are open and friendly to all.
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A video compositing or editing application, such as The Foundry Nuke, Assimilate Scratch, Sony Vegas, or FilmLight Baselight.
An application which allows you to manipulate a video timeline by adding, removing, and changing the in and out points of video clips. Effects, Generators, Transition, Compositors and Retiming effects are commonly used in editors.
Video software, such as Boris FX Sapphire or RE:Vision Effects which adds a wider variety of effects to a host application.
An application which allows you to build a video clip by layering video clips, still images, and effects.
A standardized software interface between VFX host applications and plug-ins (also known as OpenFX and OFX).
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