RendermanIf you admire the animation of Pixar and are interested in getting your hands on the same software that they use to create all of those adorable characters (and not so adorable ones too, I guess), you are in luck, my friend. Due to a pricing restructure, the powerful VFX/3D rendering program RenderMan will be available for non-commercial use -- for free -- containing literally every single feature and capability of the commercial version, giving users (mostly) free rein to cut their teeth on the program free of charge. Continue on to find out when and where you can download it!


So, why is Pixar and Disney doing this? Well, part of the reason is because of a new price restructuring for RenderMan ($495 per licence for commercial version -- down from $1300). However, Pixar and Disney explained their reasoning in detail on the non-commercial RenderMan FAQ page:

This is a strategic and long-term commitment by Disney / Pixar to the advancement and dissemination of the production industries most advanced rendering technologies and the interchange of assets in common formats. First, RenderMan going forwards will be the conduit through which applicable rendering technologies developed within Disney / Pixar research will be channeled into the public domain to establish a common platform for production, research and development, trials and experimentation, learning, and other applications. Second, it is Pixar’s belief that limitations on software access have become a brake on the development of the production industry, and that universal access and a set of common standards and practices can only stimulate greater growth and development. Third, existing trial and evaluation methods of providing access through watermarked or time-expiry licenses are unsatisfying for proper evaluation. The resources and technology now being invested in RenderMan are of superior quality and will continue to anticipate the needs of film production imagery as Pixar has over the past 25-years. Providing RenderMan free for non-commercial usage represents the commitment of Disney / Pixar that RenderMan is the long-term film rendering standard.

RenderMan is an industry standard that has been used on every VFX Oscar-winning film of the past 15 years. According to the RenderMan site, the software's strengths are listed thusly:

  • Photorealism: Pixar's RenderMan is capable of producing highly realistic images with a system of physically based shaders and lights.
  • Performance: Render the largest scenes with efficiency.
  • Quality: Create the highest quality images possible with features like advanced filtering and true 3D motion blur.
  • Control: The RenderMan Shading Language and Pixar's 3D data format (RIB) offer many opportunities to develop solutions for any type of creative challenge.

RenderMan supports Mac (Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion), Windows (Windows Vista and Windows 7, and Linux (gcc 4.1 and glibc 2.5 or higher).


So -- "non-commercial" -- what's that about? Pixar and Disney define it as "any usage of RenderMan that does not involve direct commercial use to generate profits." You can use it for things like evaluations, student projects, experimentation, research, development of plugins and other tools to be used with RenderMan, or to simply practice and familiarize yourself with the program. The cool thing, though, is that if you just so happen to make something amazing with the non-commercial version that you want to use commercially after the fact, all you have to do is email Pixar and they'll get you registered as a commercial user.

The non-commercial version of RenderMan will be released at the same time version 19.0 of the commercial version is released, which will be based on the SIGGRAPH 2014 time frame, so, sometime around August. So, if you're interested, (if you're wanting to get into VFX graphics, just take a look at all of the films that used it -- it's an industry standard) you can register here and will be notified when it's available.


[via The Mac Observer]