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Pixar To Give Away 3D RenderMan Software 147

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 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.

  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:55PM (#47159055) Journal

    Not to mention that they were one of the first to pull the "you can't access our online content because your ISP doesn't pay us to let you access it" [wikipedia.org] *. F Disney and ESPN.

    * See the section on Criticism

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:25PM (#47159297) Journal

    Oh, come on. They just want to kill off 3Delight or something like that.

    You're close - they likely want to kill off licensing money for 3Delight (you can get the engine yourself and use it for free). For instance, these guys [daz3d.com] license 3Delight as the render engine inside the DAZ Studio product, as do many other hobbyist and lower-end toolsets. They pay quite a bit for the privilege.

    There's a decent amount of money to be made not by selling the engine as a product, but by licensing it out to other software houses, much like they licensed out the Unreal or Quake game engines. Making and maintaining a complex CG engine (rendering, game physics, subdivision, etc) is programmatically a PITA, and it's easier to use an existing wheel than to just re-invent it.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:42PM (#47159481)
    There's a feature disparity. Blender is mostly polygon oriented, but PRMan rather likes to chew on smooth patches. Blender's NURBS features are of lackluster quality, though, so you're basically left only with Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces as the lowest common denominator. It's not that polygons wouldn't work, but you'd be missing on some of the coolest features of PRMan - or you'd have to make some geometry transformers of your own for the exporter. It's like running a car's engine on idle all the time. (Also, PRMan loves humongously complex scenes, which Blender is probably unable to provide. Again, you're running your engine on idle.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:45PM (#47159533)

    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 concept and a lot of ideas from it (Houdini's integrated Mantra renderer).

  • 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]

  • by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:03PM (#47161523) Homepage Journal

    This is a measure of Blender's success [blender.org] as FOSS. I hadn't expected this kind of reaction for a couple more years, but Blender has been developing a lot faster than I had thought it would.

Variables don't; constants aren't.