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Pixar To Give Away 3D RenderMan Software 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-a-community dept.
nairnr sends this news from the BBC: 'The 3D rendering software behind films such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Harry Potter is to be given away free for non-commercial use. RenderMan, which is developed by Pixar, has faced increased competition from rival animation rendering programmes such as VRay and Arnold. Although Pixar, which is owned by Disney, produces its own films, it licenses RenderMan to rival studios. In a statement, the firm said it would release a free version of RenderMan "without any functional limitations, watermarking, or time restrictions." "Non-commercial RenderMan will be freely available for students, institutions, researchers, developers, and for personal use," it added.'
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Pixar To Give Away 3D RenderMan Software

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  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:22PM (#47158677)

    it's disney
    the same company that makes me pay for ESPN even though i never watch it

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phrostie (121428)

      look up the history of BMRT

      I'd be happy if they gave that back.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not "evil" but definitely "enlightened self interest"

      They're trying to get poor/cheap students used to using their product so that when they graduate and become professionals they'll pressure their employer to buy them the software they're familiar with (which they can then charge huge commercial license fees for).

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:41PM (#47158889)

      It's just good talent retention. If your software is free to learn on... people will learn on it. Which increases your talent pool. Most of the Apple fanboys out there now are such because, when they were in highschool, apple was the only computer in the school... and therefor the only computer they had access to. You use what you know. It worked for Apple, it will work for Pixar... but kind of in reverse.

      • It's just good talent retention. If your software is free to learn on... people will learn on it. Which increases your talent pool.

        I don't see retention or recruitment as a problem for RenderMan, which has been around since "The Wrath of Khan." and "Young Sherlock Holmes."

        Movies and Awards [pixar.com]

      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Most of the Apple fanboys out there now are such because, when they were in highschool, apple was the only computer in the school... and therefor the only computer they had access to.

        I kind of doubt that. When I was in grade school the standard was the Apple IIx. In high school we had PC's running Windows 3.x or 95. At home we first had a Franklyn Ace 1200 and later various PC's. Yea this isn't the 80's/90's anymore but there is a bit more to this than Macs at schools.

        Apple only rose to its current height a

    • It's a sales tool.
      The more people who use it and know how to use it properly, the more paying customers they'll get.
      If everyone coming out of university and design schools already know how to use RenderMan, what do you think companies will buy?

    • Some of the channels in basic packages are there to lower the cost.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I plan on using this software to make a movie like "Cars" only called "Dildoes".

      Then there's my porn movie the "Awesomes" and you guess it, it'll be like the "Incredibles."

      Oh, and wait till you see MY version of Toy Story - Oh! There WILL be toys!!

    • So I guess I can assume that you live in a shack like Ted Kaczynski because you do not want to be polluted by the "evil" of contemporary life? You have somehow acquired a computer free of the low paid sweat shop labor in China/Korea/Viet Nam/etc, it's powered by a home built water powered generator running off a natural spring on your property, you have found the one ISP that does no allow any spam on their network, and you use a Linux/BSD distros that have completely open source software with no vendor su
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Mickey Mouse product?

  • "Non-commercial RenderMan will be freely available for ... developers...," it added.'

    Forget the others; they're basically saying anyone not making commercial feature films can use it for free -- which means small software developers can now create excellent animation sequences for free, as long as they can actually do decent animation. This could usher in Pixar-level animation in App-style games, which would be significantly better than the current options.

    Here we come, Bendy Luxo apps!

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      What happens to Blender? Will RenderMan have the ability to replace Blender as an all-in-one 3D modeling/sculpting/rigging/animation/rendering engine, or is RenderMan only an animation/rendering engine?

      • by Narcocide (102829)

        Blender will stay exactly where it is because some people will still want to have a tool that's actually free not just "free for educational uses only."

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Does blender have a greater, lesser or parity feature set compared to RenderMan? That's an important question for the casual user. I use blender quite a bit for 3D modeling for Kerbal Space Program, but if Render Man is better, and has the features I need, then I might look at their free edition. I use blender because it's free and do about 20 hours a year of 3D modeling a year for hobbyist purposes.

          • The usual response (applicable to many similar questions): If you have to ask what this means for you, then PRMan is not for you.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            RenderMan is primarily a rendering interface specification and a shading language definition. For convenience, implementations are also called RenderMan.
            Pixar's own implementation and toolset (previously called Photorealistic RenderMan/PRMan and RenderMan Studio Tools) is by far the most successful. There are multiple other software implementations of RenderMan: commercial (3Delight) and open-source (Pixie, Aqsis). Also some dead ones (RenderDotC, BMRT).
            Finally, there are renderers that have borrowed the co

      • by gmueckl (950314)

        In very simple terms: RenderMan is a software that is used to convert 3d scenes into 2d images. It would never replace Blender or other 3d modeling tools - they complement each other.

      • by luckymutt (996573)
        Renderman is a rendering engine with its own material and lighting system.
        It is essentially a suite of plug-ins. You would still do all of your modeling and animation rigging, camera work etc. in Blender as you already know it, then use the Renderman materials and lighting and then Renderman would do all of the rendering passes and output.
        Just like using v-ray in 3dsMax or Maya.
        However, you would need to hope they have built a version for Blender, or have made a scene exporter and a stand-alone versio
      • by exomondo (1725132)

        What happens to Blender?

        Nothing, RenderMan is a renderer and some Blender users already use RenderMan, others use Yafaray or 3Delight or whatever. If anything more Blender users may use RenderMan as their renderer of choice.

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Blender is a modeler, and can integrate with a bunch of different renderers. As I understand it, Renderman is the specification for an interface to a rendering engine. PRMan is Pixar's implementation of the Renderman interface. For a long time there was a free implementation called Blue Moon Rendering Tools, but I think that got pulled after some legal issue with Pixar.
    • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:36PM (#47158827)

      Pretty sure you reading it wrong. You can get a copy of it for free as a developer; presumably to play with it, maybe develop free plugins for it etc.

      I certainly don't read it as being free for you to make animation for commerial apps. (regular paid apps, freemium, or ad supported)

      • Shoot... I think you're right. Oh well :(

      • by timeOday (582209)
        No, but if there is really no watermarking, they are effectively giving up on controlling small-scale commercial use.

        They must only be getting licensing fees from other big companies (too big to use it on the sly), and decided to sacrifice any potential of selling it for a couple hundred bucks per pop, in order to cement their market at the high end.

        • by gmueckl (950314) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:26PM (#47159311)

          The high end is where RenderMan shines. This is a tool for experts. The studios that use RenderMan pay people to become experts in very specific domains (modeling, shading and lighting are separate domains for these people) and this software has been the ultimate tool for the shading and lighting stages for the last 2 decades.

          However, as the summary notes, Arnold is the new shooting star among production renderers. It's a completely different beast - different basic algorithms which imply different ways of dealing with it, but at the benefit that the results usually obey the laws of physics without further ado. RenderMan was never designed to work that way, yet this is what the VFX industry moves towards.

        • There was essentially no small-scale commercial use because PRMan is terrible for pretty much anyone whose name isn't ILM, Weta or Pixar. For the sorts of work that pretty much everyone does the sacrifices PRMan forces you to accept don't really give you anything in return over VRay or now Arnold.

    • Erm aren't "small software developers" usually excluded by the non-commercial bit?

    • ... no it reads like 'any' commercial use. So we're safe from versions of Candy Crush Saga with sub-surface scattering for a while yet
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:47PM (#47158949)

      "Non-commercial RenderMan will be freely available for ... developers...," it added.'

      Forget the others; they're basically saying anyone not making commercial feature films can use it for free -- which means small software developers can now create excellent animation sequences for free, as long as they can actually do decent animation. This could usher in Pixar-level animation in App-style games, which would be significantly better than the current options.

      Here we come, Bendy Luxo apps!

      If I read their pricing schedule correctly a commercial license is only $495; so someone could create some animation and later buy a license at a reasonable price if they decide to do a commercial release.

    • which means small software developers can now create excellent animation sequences for free, as long as they can actually do decent animation

      Oh, come on. Compared with 3DS Max or Lightwave, working with RenderMan is like flying a Jumbo Jet instead of driving a car. "Why would small software developers" try to do that when many really small media studios don't bother? And I'm talking about people dedicated to doing video/film work, you're talking about a part-time activity.

      This could usher in Pixar-level animation in App-style games, which would be significantly better than the current options.

      Uh? What does that even mean?

  • Recruiting Tool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:39PM (#47158855)
    This is Disney we're talking about here.

    And TNSTAAFL.

    They'll obviously use it as a recruiting tool.

    1. Release tool
    2. Watch amateur animations spring up online
    3. Hire amateurs who create awesome animations
    4. Save on training costs
    5. Profit
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Just like any other companies have done.

      You overlook the part where people learn the skills also can make competing companies. Start there own company, and get free training.

    • by kevmatic (1133523)

      And are you implying that there is there something wrong with this?

      People get to play around with a tool used in industry if they want, Disney (AND other Renderman companies) get better, more passionate hires, people have a way to get their foot in the door for jobs they want without having to put up money...

      What's the problem?

    • This is also a great way to get their application featured in college courses. And if people learn how to do 3d animation in RenderMan first, they are going to more inclined to use it on future projects.
  • by c0d3r (156687) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:43PM (#47158911) Homepage Journal

    Anyone remember http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_Rendering_Tools? There was a free version a long time ago.

  • Damn I thought this said they were giving away Slenderman on Bluray. Kind of creepy considering...
  • by clawsoon (748629) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:53PM (#47159027)

    It might be that Pixar considers rendering old news, considering what they've come up with for animators:

    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech/watch-a-rare-demo-of-pixars-animation-system-presto-98099.html [cartoonbrew.com]

    If you're not familiar with computer animation, that might not seem like much. To the animators where I work, though, it induced a weird combination of frenzy (as they lusted after it) and depression (once they re-opened the scenes they were working on in Maya). The rest of the industry has to spend hours rendering (in Renderman, or Vray, or whatever) to get a result that Pixar is now creating in-house in real time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Presto is not even directly related to rendering.

      In terms of rendering, try making an architectural visualization with PRman. Try doing product shots. Try doing anything besides exactly what it was built to do within the confines of Pixar. There's a reason other rendering tools exist, and price alone is not it. Keep in mind that PRMan couldn't even do accurate reflections for the longest of times, and the general sentiment at the time was that it didn't need to be able to anyway, as few things in the mo

    • by gmueckl (950314)

      That system is indeed quite nice. While I can totally believe that they can push that level of geometric complexity through a modern GPU at that speed, I am a bit at a loss about how they apply the animation modifiers while maintaining the frame rate. I guess you could get away with doing that on the CPU considering the low complexity of the control meshes.

      Still, it's awesome. That's what you can pull off once to can afford to throw a bunch of programmers at such a problem for sufficiently long time...

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:51PM (#47159595)

      Presto is Pixar's proprietary, fully featured, animation package. Besides the main interactive application, Presto is built on top of a rich set of reusable libraries. The application supports integrated workflows for a variety of feature film departments including rigging, layout, animation and simulation. It also provides built in media playback and asset management tools.

      For the purposes of this course, we will mainly discuss Presto's Execution System. We will use two common disciplines, rigging and animation, to illustrate how the system works.

      One of the challenges in Presto is its integrated architecture. In a single session, the user may wish to animate or do some rigging or run a sim or all three without an explicit context switch. Some of these tasks do not lend themselves well to a multithreading environment, and yet must coexist seamlessly with all features of the application.

      Presto Execution System: An Asynchronous Computation Engine for Animation [multithreadingandvfx.org]

      [George ElKoura, Pixar Animation Studios, July 24, 2013]

      • Mod parent up as informative

        That PDF was a great read on the design of Presto. Interesing they are using Python in a multi-threaded context binding with C++.

        One thing to note about this situation is that if, in the main thread, the call was made from C++,
        then there would be no need to hold the GIL in the main thread, and everything would be fine. If,
        however, it is called from Python, we get the hang. Moreover, neither subsystem knows about
        the other, the locks are taken in client code. The client code co

    • Thanks for that link.

      I didn't realize Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy recently this year?!
      http://www.scpr.org/blogs/econ... [scpr.org]

  • A gazillion Buzz Lightyear 3D porn on Youtube.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pixar's RenderMan and RenderMan Interface are two differentent things. Pixar's RenderMan is one of the best 3D rendering programs available because has beed developed by some of the best computer scientists for two and a half decades. It's expensive because it's power relies on crushing numbers in several computers (i.e. several expensive licences), there's almost no point to use it in a project with only one computer, but you still can do it. Also it's somehow complicated to use, and the secret of its powe

  • So what they really mean is that to increase adoption rate, they need more people trained on it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Renderman available free

    Requirement: 200 core i7 server farm.

  • Forget Toy Story, and other pixar stuff. The 3D rendering has made real impact for the fans of the Superstar. It means the Superstar has become immortal. His latest release [wikipedia.org] has Rajnikant rendered by 3D software. Hollywood touches up its actors and actresses on the sly and pretends it does not do it. Kollywood shows the way, unabashed 3D rendering, quite openly, flagrantly! It says, "OK OK our Superstar is an ageing balding fella. [forbesindia.com] But look! he is young and spritely [ndtv.com] dancing with the twentysomething all
  • Get ppl to learn it, so that they do not have to train them.

    In addition, if they give it away, but block their competitors, it means that they have a leg up.
    Of course, many of their competitors are using OSS, so.....
  • My guess would be that they see the popularity of FLOSS Blender as a threat and want to gain market share by giving it away for free for non-commercial movies. Perhaps they also got tired of training their new personell, which used Blender before, to use their software.

    • RenderMan is only a renderer. It cannot replace the modeling interface of Blender anyway.
    • by luckymutt (996573)
      It is a rendering engine. It is not in direct competition with, nor do they see Blender as a "threat."
      They are not even making a Blender compatible version.
      RenderMan is only available for Maya.
      If they are doing this in response to anything they see as a threat, it is in response to V-Ray who recently (past couple of years) released a version for Maya and it has been widely adopted in film and vfx.
      V-Ray has been around for years as a rendering engine for 3dsMax and has really dominated. (I can't rem
    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Answer to Blender?

      No.

  • just to see what the differences are between it and Mental Ray and / or V-Ray. ( I own both ) Unless it adds some serious " just gotta have it " reasons over Mental Ray or the other commercial renderers, then most folks probably won't bother with it.

    The new hotness, however, is GPU rendering. ( eg: I-Ray or Octane )

    If Renderman supports GPU rendering, then it will gain a lot more interest as it won't be considered a deprecated rendering solution.
  • I've been using Renderman on and off for over a decade but the combination of Blender And Luxrender being so fast these days has made caused advantages of Renderman to diminished significantly.

  • Great... more non-commercial licensed stuff to confuse with open source...
  • by nurb432 (527695)

    For those old timers...

    Was a great thing in its day, then got yanked from underneath us.. I don't want a repeat performance..

  • This is the kind of business move that more or less undercuts the anti-piracy argument.
  • NeXT computers came with prman, a pretty early version of it: no motion blur for instance. And of course, it was a bit much to expect great results when viewed on a 2-bit gray and white display. It was one of those things thrown into the mix to see if it could fly, like the complete works of Shakespeare, indexed, and NeXTMail, which let you include multimedia in email (predating MIME). Funny that it wasn't bundled with OS X.

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