A rendering system created by Pixar for 2D imagery based on 3D information of scene descriptions to be used as a standalone tool or as an Autodesk Maya plugin.

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RenderMan Description

RenderMan is a complex piece of software developed by the Pixar Animation Studios which enables users to generate 2D images out of 3D scene descriptions.

It can function both as a standalone tool, but in this form it is aimed at more advanced individuals, as well as a graphic plugin for Autodesk Maya or The Foundry’s Katana.

Generally, scene descriptions comprise information about specific geometry found in a scene, details about how the geometrical object should be shaded, the position of the light sources as well as data about the virtual camera that is used for imaging the scene.

They can also include countless other information, like display parameters, and these are stored in RIB format files (RenderMan Interface Bytestream).

The software comprises four distinct elements which users can work with, specifically RenderMan for Maya and RenderMan for Katana, plugins which act as bridge packages between the host program and RenderMan’s functionality. The two other components are represented by ‘it’ (imaging tool) and ‘Slim’ (RSL Shader Network Authoring Tool).

The Autodesk Maya plugin offers users access to RenderMan’s advanced features, though it uses Maya’s functionality and workflow. ‘Slim’ works as a shader creator and manipulator for material building tasks.

This tool enables users to generate RenderMan shaders by joining modules and adjusting their parameters, allowing them to preview the result before saving it, all the while requiring no code writing whatsoever.

‘it’ functions as a framebuffer/render display window with floating point capabilities, also offering imaging instruments able to manipulate and compose imagery in high quality.

By providing users with more advanced feature, otherwise not found in Autodesk Maya, they can configure a wide variety of aspects relating to objects’ geometry, lights and materials, all of which are highly user-definable, in order to help them obtain the effects they are after.

NOTE: RenderMan is free for non-commercial use only. To work with the utility, you need to register an account.

System requirements

  • Autodesk Maya or
  • The Foundry’s KATANA

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