Version 20 Includes New Geometry Visualizer, Improved Hair and Fur Shader, and More Improvements

Pixar released version 20 of its RenderMan software, introducing a new noise-reduction technology designed to more efficiently deal with artifacts created by physically based ray tracers.

The company said the new denoising system has allowed a "massive" reduction in the time needed to render shots and images. "The new denoising technology currently being used in our upcoming feature Finding Dory has been incredibly valuable, allowing us to compute final frames up to 10 times faster," said John Halstead, supervising technical director on Finding Dory, in a prepared statement.


Originally developed at Disney, the new system renders images faster and with fewer samples. The initial image is noisier, but a new filter called the Denoiser produces a higher-quality final image. Pixar calls it the "make pretty" button.


Also new is the Visualizer, a way to view a scene's geometry—wireframes, normals, surface parameterization—as it is seen by RenderMan, allowing fast feedback for scenes that need to go through multiple iterations of camera positions, depth of field, motion blur, etc.

RenderMan 20 ships with Marschner Hair, a new shader for hair and fur with four specular components and a new backscatter control that was developed and tested on Pixar productions. And the Physical Camera allows users to simulate optical properties like tilt-shift, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting in their renders. Other additions include a Holdout Workflow for compositing CGI elements with live action, improvements to RenderMan's lights (including an API for light filter plug-ins) and enhancements to volume performance, including support for Maya Fluids in Renderman for Maya.

RenderMan 20 is available for Mac OS 10.9, 10.8, and 10.7, Windows 8 and 7, and Linux glibc 2.12 and higher and gcc 4.4.5 and higher. It is compatible with Autodesk Maya 2014, 2015, and 2016, and with The Foundry's Katana version 2.0. Earlier this year, Pixar launched Non-Commercial RenderMan, which is free for all non-commercial purposes. It, too, has been updated to v20.