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COLLADA is a COLLAborative Design Activity for establishing an open standard digital asset schema for interactive 3D applications. It involves designers, developers, and interested parties from within Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) as well as key third-party companies in the 3-D industry. With its 1.4.0 release, COLLADA became a standard of The Khronos Group Inc., where consortium members continue to promote COLLADA to be the centerpiece of digital-asset toolchains used by the 3-D interactive industry.
COLLADA defines an XML database schema that enables 3-D authoring applications to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information, enabling multiple software packages to be combined into extremely powerful tool chains.
However, COLLADA is not merely a technology, as technology alone cannot solve this communication problem. COLLADA has succeeded in providing a neutral zone where competitors work together in the design of a common specification. This creates a new paradigm in which the schema (format) is supported directly by the digital content creation (DCC) vendors. Each of them writes and supports their own implementation of COLLADA importer and exporter tools.
The COLLADA schema supports all the features that modern 3-D interactive applications need, including programmable shader effects and physics simulation. It can also be easily extended by the end users for their own specific purposes. In other words, COLLADA is not designed to be a temporary data transport mechanism, but rather to be the schema for the source data for your digital assets. It is not designed as a delivery mechanism, but to be a content holder for any target platform. COLLADA's choice of language is XML, thus gaining many of the benefits of the eXtensible Markup Language including native support of international UTF-8 encoding. The COLLADA XML Schema document is publicly accessible on the Internet for online content validation.
The COLLADA project was initiated by Sony Computer Entertainment to create a standard Digital Asset Exchange format. It is the first time that major DCC tool companies, such as Alias, Discreet, and Softimage, are working together, along with other companies, bringing different experiences and expertise to create a common interchange format for the benefit of all users.