Version 25 of RenderMan is the latest version of Pixar's industry-leading rendering software that is widely used in animation and visual effects. This new version delivers many features and updates to improve speed, quality, and scalability.
The cornerstone of this release is an advanced Denoiser from Disney Research which uses machine learning to significantly accelerate the rendering process. Pixar’s state-of-the-art rendering technology, XPU, has also reached major new milestones, including volume rendering, full support for secondary passes, and faster interactivity. Other improvements in version 25 include creative controls for stylization, increased integration with Pixar's USD, and improvements to light baking. Finally, updates to MaterialX Lama from ILM finish up the features in the major release of version 25.
In version 25, Pixar delivers significant advancements to RenderMan.
1. Innovative Denoising Technology — The RenderMan Denoiser is completely new state-of-the-art denoising technology developed by Disney Research, which takes a new approach to denoising, using machine learning and training data from Disney, ILM, and Pixar. The Denoiser can significantly reduce render times for both feature animation and VFX, while delivering images of the highest quality.
2. Advancements in XPU — Pixar's XPU technology reaches significant milestones in version 25, including support for volumes, secondary passes, trace groups, and many enhancements to for look development, lighting, and interactivity. These milestones represent a major evolution of Pixar’s next generation renderer, XPU.
3. Look Development — Many advancements in version 25 focus on enhancing the creative aspects of look development, from new material libraries to streamlining pipeline implementation. RenderMan Stylized Looks has enhanced the user experience and added powerful features, and collaboration with ILM and USD teams has yielded excellent results for the creation and exchange of physically based materials. Highlights include:
- Stylized Looks — Updates to the toolset allow artists to generate Stylized Looks with more creative control over toon shading, illustrative lighting, and linework. Highlights include line distort, overhauled Toon shading system, more hatching presets, optimized linework, and new Preset Browser Stylized Looks materials that extend the library.
- MaterialX Lama — ILM has contributed enhancements and features to MaterialX Lama. These include more accurate calculation of the interaction of light between different material layers, and a new iridescence material response has been included.
- MaterialX & Solaris — Ongoing collaboration with the USD team has yielded positive results for material exchange with direct support for MaterialX in Solaris, and with support to follow for MaterialX in many other DCCs. RenderMan is committed to delivering the best-in-class material exchange experience for our users, and is working closely with the USD team to make this progress possible.
Innovative Denoising Technology
RenderMan 25 features a completely new state-of-the-art Denoiser from Disney Research which uses machine learning to resolve partially converged images while maintaining image detail and temporal coherence, making the final result nearly indistinguishable from full convergence. This advanced denoising technology is production-ready, having been developed by Disney Research in partnership with Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), and Industrial Light and Magic, and is based on novel research into how neural networks can denoise images. This denoiser replaces the current offline denoiser in RenderMan that was developed by WDAS. Highlights:
- Machine Learning — Pixar’s RenderMan Denoiser uses machine learning to remove noise from partially converged images with high accuracy and temporal coherence, resulting in a final image that is nearly indistinguishable from fully converged images. The denoiser has been trained on a broad range of production datasets from VFX at ILM to feature animation at Pixar and Disney.
- Production Proven — This advanced denoising technology is reliable as it has been developed by Disney Research and used in production at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), and Industrial Light and Magic, where it has been proven to be highly effective.
- Highest Fidelity — The AI Denoiser stands out in preserving complex, intricate details that could otherwise be lost, making it ideal for demanding applications like feature animation and VFX. It significantly reduces rendering times while maintaining high fidelity, and has been occasionally called “magic” by industry veterans.
Version 25 delivers significant new milestones for Pixar’s next generation technology, XPU, to increase its role in production VFX pipelines, while it continues to evolve to become a full production renderer. With support for volumes and points, XPU can now be used for look development beyond hard surfaces. With XPU's added support for LPEs and arbitrary AOVs compositing workflows are now enabled, which are essential for feature animation and VFX. Finally, many additional enhancements signal a giant leap forward in Pixar’s GPU-accelerated renderer. Highlights:
- Volumes — The introduction of volume aggregates in XPU is a major achievement, allowing for faster iteration times during the look development phase, as well as quicker final renders. Now render pyrotechnics and more with XPU!
- LPEs & AOVs — Full support for LPEs and arbitrary AOVs in XPU empowers artists with the flexibility and control they need to produce high-quality output for compositing and a variety of production scenarios.
- Look Development Improvements — The advancements in Look Development in XPU, including support for thin glass and trace subsets, provide better control for artists and help achieve even greater consistency between XPU renders and RIS.
- Deformation Motion Blur — XPU now supports full deformation motion blur, enabling studios to use XPU to generate fast quality control renders to give artists the opportunity to validate whether their animation cache was created correctly.
- Complete Camera Controls — XPU now supports many controls of pxrCamera. These controls include additional features such as depth of field and chromatic aberration, which can be quickly adjusted during interactive rendering. Please refer to the docs for up to the date support.
- Interactivity — Interactivity is a key feature of XPU in RenderMan 25, which prioritizes interactive performance by improving the responsiveness of XPU to camera movements and shader parameter changes, through features such as Progressive Pixels, allowing artists to make quicker and more informed decisions, while providing faster image feedback for refining their choices.
- Rendering Controls — The rendering controls in XPU provide a more granular level of control over the rendering process, allowing artists to set trace depths for both diffuse and specular rays on a per-object basis. These controls help to achieve faster convergence speeds and produce renders that more closely match those produced by RenderMan's previous version, RIS.
- Improved Low-Memory GPU Support — The texture cache has been improved to perform better on GPUs that are memory constrained. You will get faster renders from the GPU if the texture cache needs to do out-of-core texture lookups.
RenderMan's Stylized Looks toolset in version 25 offers more creative control for artists to create non-photorealistic images. Updates include improved Toon shading, hatching, and line optimization. The UI has been reorganized to be more intuitive, and new features such as Line Distort, Toon Mask, and Color Spline Ramp offer artists new creative controls. Highlights:
- Lines — RenderMan now supports distorted lines out-of-box for a more hand-drawn appearance. There are also optimizations for line thickness and line sorting to improve performance.
- Toon — The Stylized Control toolset now includes Toon Mask support, and the Stylized Toon feature has been updated with a new Color Spline Ramp for increased creative control. Additionally, the whiteshader calculations have been improved and Signal Pre Gain/Gamma have been added to the toolset.
- Hatching — The Stylized Hatching has received updates to triplanar projections, hatching mask, toon shading, blending, and rainbow test visualizer.
- UI Overhaul — An overhaul of the user interface for Stylized Looks makes the toolset more user-friendly for artists. The parameters have been reorganized to be more intuitive and easier to use.
We have continued to more tightly integrate RenderMan into DCCs, improving usability and stability. Collaboration with the USD and Hydra teams has helped drive RenderMan to its fullest potential. The enhancements provide a more seamless workflow for artists using RenderMan in their production pipeline.
- Support Updates — The latest versions of most DCCs are now supported by RenderMan: Houdini, Katana, Maya & Solaris (with support for the latest Blender to follow). There are also general stability improvements in all of the DCCs, including the Preset Browser and the Texture Manager.
- New Preset Libraries — The Library of assets that ship with the Preset Browser expands substantially with several new collections for fur, hair, stylization, diverse skin, and more. All are available from the RenderMan Preset Browser.
- Production-Grade Pyrotechnics — A library of pyrotechnic presets now ship with version 25. The library includes Smoke, Flames, Campfire, Smokey Campfire, & Fire Ball for use in Blender, Houdini, Maya & Katana, and were developed in collaboration with Pixar VFX TD, Hope Shroers.
- Highlight | Houdini Pyro HDA — Houdini based Kaboom Box HDA with advanced VBD processing for photoreal pyro volumes, smoke, fire and everything in between, all wrapped up an artist friend UI and created by Pixar FX TD, Hope Shroers.
- Highlight | Solaris & MaterialX — RenderMan's capabilities in Solaris have been improved with support for MaterialX, enhancements to controlling the camera shutter, and motion blur fixes.
- Highlight | Katana 6 Support — The latest version of Katana 6 now has support for soloing material nodes in RenderMan.
- MaterialX Lama — In version 25, the latest improvements to MaterialX Lama are being integrated from ILM. This includes more accurate calculation of the interaction of light between different material layers, resulting in more physically accurate results for artists. Additionally, a new iridescence material response has been included.
- Light Baking — If your studio is involved in real-time rendering, whether it be for LED light stages, games or anything else, we’ve improved our global illumination baking by up to 2x, as well as added additional controls for controlling resolution.