Will Pixar’s Release of Free Non-Commercial RenderMan Change Animation?
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, the founders of Pixar were working with George Lucas and various other companies using their revolutionary rendering program algorithm REYES (Render Everything You Ever Saw). They were trying to change the world and no one who cares about great rendering could deny that they have succeeded. Now, over twenty-five years later, the program is still the best in the business and they have just announced their award-winning, life altering program is going to be made available for free for non-commercial use as well as much cheaper for commercial use.
Even before RenderMan went public in 1989, the software was used all over the map (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Young Sherlock Holmes) and today Pixar’s program is the industry standard with awe-inspiring photorealism. There were twenty-two films that used the software last year: 47 Ronin, After Earth, Elysium, Escape From Planet Earth, Free Birds, Frozen, GI Joe: Retaliation, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Jack the Giant Slayer, The Lone Ranger, Man of Steel, Monsters University, Pacific Rim, Planes, Riddick, Rush, Thor: The Dark World, Walking with Dinosaurs, The Wolverine, and World War Z.
Basically, the software works with modeling and animation software as the last step in production. So, using Maya or Cinema4D with RenderMan would give you an exponentially more beautiful, believable piece of art either in your animated or live-action film. This will be a game-changer for students and at-home filmmakers as well as smaller animation companies who may now be able to afford the software. Of course, Pixar is following many companies who have smartly offered cheap or free products to students in the hope of getting them hooked early on, but it still is an amazing development for up-and-coming animators who will learn the program that much earlier in their careers. I think we will see rendering skills and the overall look of films improve across the board even more than they have thanks to this move from our friends at Pixar.