Pixar Is Giving Away Its RenderMan 3D Movie Magic Software
June 3, 2014

Pixar Is Giving Away Its RenderMan 3D Movie Magic Software

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Fans of Pixar's animated films will now be able to try their hand at making movie magic. The 3D software known as RenderMan, which was developed by the studio, is now being given away free for non-commercial use. The product will also be commercially available for $495 with a single license – and that version will still be available to businesses and other professional customers.

The new RenderMan release will also combine the functionality of what had been separate versions of RenderMan Pro Server and RenderMan Studio.

Pixar, which is owned by Disney, has licensed the RenderMan products to rival studios and it has become a de facto standard – but at the same time it has faced increased competition from rival animation rendering programs such as VRay and Arnold, the BBC reported. By offering a non-commercial version it could open up RenderMan to hobbyists and amateur film makers, and thus hold its place as an industry standard.

The free version of RenderMan is being offered without any functional limitations, there is no watermarking of the content, it can be used to create animations and there are no time restrictions, Pixar confirmed. It will be available to students, institutions, researchers, developers and for personal use.

On the RenderMan FAQ non-commercial use was defined as:

"Any usage of RenderMan that does not involve direct commercial use to generate profits. Examples of non-commercial use-cases include evaluations, personal learning and familiarization, student usage, any type of experimentation, research, and the development of tools and plug-ins that complement the RenderMan and new RIS framework."

From the sound off about the only thing the free version can't be used for is to make a commercial animation. Those interested in exploring RenderMan’s new capabilities are invited to register in advance on the RenderMan website to access a free license for download upon release, Pixar announced.

"This truly brings the future of fully photo-realistic ray-traced rendering to RenderMan,” said David Hirst, global head of lighting at MPC, in a statement. “We did tests with the production assets from one of our latest movies and were completely blown away by the speed and how interactively we could preview and render these assets. The RIS based integrator is going to change the way we work, with more scalable rendering and faster results.”

RenderMan can be used as a solo product but can also be used alongside other popular animation software including Maya, Houdini and Cinema4. Users can now sign up to receive a notice that the free non-commercial product is available. Pixar announced that it will arrive with the release of version 19 for commercial users in August. This is reportedly timed to coincide with the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference.

Ian Dean, editor of computer graphics magazine 3D World, told the BBC that Pixar's strategy "could be seen as a reaction to the rise of alternatives such as Arnold."

He added that Disney/Pixar could are also be looking to "build a community."

Pixar noted on the official RenderMan website that this technology has been used by "49 out of the last 53 nominees for Visual Effects."