Pixar Restructures RenderMan Pricing, Non-Commercial Licenses Now Free

| Product News

If you have ever looked at a Pixar film and thought you wanted to try your hand at computer animation, now you can do so for free with RenderMan, the same software used at Pixar. Free non-commercial licenses will be free, with commercial license pricing set at US$495, down from $1,300.


RenderMan is the software package Pixar built for rendering its own computer animation, and has been in use for computer effects going back to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan through today, noted as being used on The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films as well.

This new RenderMan release, version 19, is "scheduled in the timeframe of SIGGRAPH 2014," which takes place in August. It will be compatible with Mac OS 10.7/10.8, and Windows 8, 7, and Vista. There is also Linux compatibility mentioned, and compatibility with Autodesk Maya versions 2013, 2013.5, 2014, and 2015.

If you're interested, you can register to find out when the non-commercial licenses become available.

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So, how many millions of dollars in hardware would you need in order to run the software ?



You don’t need millions in hardware to create 3D animation. There are two basic steps to 3D animation: setup and rendering. Setup includes creating all of the models and textures and key framing all of the animation. Yes, a powerful computer is needed, but any modern Mac should be able to cut it for this phase.

The next step is rendering. This, yes, is where you need potentially millions of dollars in equipment. But the good news is that you don’t have to buy the equipment. There are plenty of commercial rendering houses that will sell you time on their rendering farms.

When I created a 90-second 3D animated clip for my former job, I used Cinema 4D and did the bulk of the modeling, texture creation, and key framing (setting up the animation) on a PowerBook and a 3rd gen iMac. Both Macs were well up to the task.

Rendering was a different story. I worked for a laser optics company, and the video contained a ton of glass and glass-like objects with complex reflection and refraction properties. Rendering just a single frame at some points, in 720p HD, took hours. To render all 2700 frames would have taken forever and probably would have melted my iMac in the process. Instead, I sent my C4D files to a company called RenderFriend:





So, how much do render farms charge ?

I guess it might be beyond the finances of us ordinary folk ?  wink




Like any service, it varies from provider to provider. Some charge by GHz/hr, while RenderFriend offers several payment options, including $1300 for 30 days unlimited rendering, or $0.75 per HD frame.


I don’t consider this beyond the means of ordinary folk if working on a professional product. I think a good analogy to print is that a third-party rendering service is akin to a third-party offset printer. You’re obviously not going to go purchase an offset printing press but would instead sent your Adobe InDesign files to one of the gazillion offset presses in the world. Likewise, you’re not going to string together hundreds of servers to render animation, but would farm that out, too.

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