Join Christos Obretenov for an in-depth discussion in this video Background: RenderMan for Maya, part of Pixar's RenderMan Essential Training.
- So what is RenderMan? RenderMan has been Pixar's core rendering technology for over 25 years now. So it's been around for quite some time. And that doesn't mean that it's not contemporary, as we'll see later on, it's recently received some really nice overhauls with ray tracing so it's certainly fast and efficient. And it's been developed to meet the ever-increasing challenges of 3D animation and visual effects, so it can be used on animated movies. Like, if you've seen any Pixar movies, that's all done in RenderMan.
And those are more stylized, kind of cartoony animations. But also it's been used on visual effects, so any live-action movie that you've seen. And these days so many live-action movies all have computer graphics visual effects. A lot of those has been done in RenderMan, and we'll see a little list later on in the slides. So, it's a great versatility where you've got an animation as well as a visual effects coming out of one rendering package. And as we mentioned, it's been completely modernized with state-of-the-art ray tracing architecture, and it's constantly setting new standards for speed and memory efficiency.
So it's constantly being updated. RenderMan has really great single pass workflows that we'll see later on in this course, and really fast interactive shading and lighting. So as we're developing our scenes, we can see in real-time when we change a shading and lighting in our scene, and we get that immediate feedback. So that's a really great way to use RenderMan. And it can be used out-of-the-box with a number of different 3D packages. We're using Autodesk's Maya for this course.
And that flavor of RenderMan, or it's kind of like a bridge to RenderMan, they sometimes call it, it's called RenderMan Studio, sometimes called RMS or RenderMan for Maya, which is what, in the future it's going to be called. So we should get used to using the name RenderMan for Maya. Also you can use it in a program called Katana which is done by The Foundry. And that's used at a lot of animation studios. It's a really great lighting tool. And Pixar, in fact, uses it, as well as all the major big studios that are doing animation and visual effects.
And there's other software called Houdini, which uses RenderMan. Blender is a free 3D package that uses RenderMan. So it's used for many different packages. And as mentioned, we're going to use RenderMan for Maya for this course. And the other competing renderers that are similar to RenderMan that also are used for visual effects, animation, commercials, as well as 3D rendering, There's one called Arnold and that's done by Solid Angle. And there's another one called V-Ray by Chaos Group. And these are all similar, they all have their pros and cons and if you're a studio that's making visual effects or animation, you're going to potentially look at all these different ones to see what works best for you.
So those are the other similar renderers to RenderMan. So why would you use RenderMan? Well if you're creating any 3D-rendered image or animation, or a visual effects element in a commercial or a movie or again a still, RenderMan is a very useful 3D tool for that. It can be stylized or photoreal, and we'll take a look at a couple of renders at the end of these slides to look at a more stylized cartoony version of RenderMan and also a more photoreal one. So it can be used for either, and that's a great thing about it, it's very customizable.
And RenderMan is really efficient for animation because it's got a fast rendering speed, so that's really important when you're doing 24 frames a second, so that's 24 renders per second, or higher. It's got a really nice film look with the motion blur, so that's really difficult to achieve when you've got objects moving really quickly with the camera shutter angle. And it's also very efficient at texturing, so using a lot of textures for skin color, or background, or displacement, so that's kind of changes the geometry.
And it's also very customizable. So big studios that are running RenderMan, they won't necessarily be using it out of the box like we will in this course, because they have a team of people customizing it for their own custom tools. So it's very important when you're running like a massive pipeline and doing a lot of rendering, is customizability in RenderMan. It's really open for that, and it's really easy to add on to it, or modify existing things. Here's a great timeline slide of RenderMan over the past 27 years, so we can see it starts out in the late 1980's with Tin Toy, which is a short film that Pixar did.
And these timelines are just for the Pixar films that have been used, so this is just animation. And of course, RenderMan's been used by other studios for visual effects and animation, but it's really neat looking at this long timeline. If you've seen any or all the Pixar movies you recognize them, and we can see in bullet points, we're not going to read all of them, but there's been a lot of things added to RenderMan over the years, so every year there's a lot of new technology. And right now we have a very efficient ray-tracing architecture for RenderMan. So this is a great little slide to show you an example of all the movies that have used RenderMan.
And some of these are short films and some of these are feature films. And here's a list of other studios and other movies that have used RenderMan, so again it's not just within Pixar. And you can see some of the renders on the bottom here. And there's The Lego Movie, which is very stylized and cartoony, but there's also some other renders with more photoreal rendering with RenderMan and then there's kind of a hybrid, so the one here with the two turtles. It's obviously animated, so it has that nice animated look, depth of field, and some beautiful lighting there, but it's also photoreal, so it's kind of a great hybrid, because as we mentioned RenderMan does both.
And here is a still from Monsters University and this one is quite stylized and it's got great lighting with the caustics effects of the reflections of the disco ball and obviously a lot of fur. Just really cool stylized lighting and more cartoony. But if we take a look at this render of this car that we call Sterling, obviously this is more photoreal. So RenderMan with the same materials, you know they're obviously tweaked in different ways, but you can use those kind of same materials out-of-the-box that will see and do photoreal or stylized.
- Generating your first render in RenderMan
- Using interactive progressive rendering (IPR)
- Working with AOVs
- Rendering with different integrators, including the path tracer and bidirectional VCM
- Setting up a scene with mesh lights
- Adjusting Max Path Length and other render settings
- Rendering materials
- Lighting in RenderMan