Pixar released version 22 of its RenderMan 3D rendering software this week, with support for “live rendering” that it says will make workflow more interactive — and artist iterations faster and easier.

“The new RenderMan technology is already changing our pipeline,” said Pixar CTO Steve May in a prepared statement. “We are moving to take full advantage of its interactivity and scalability. New workflow options will also open as we add direct RenderMan integration with Pixar’s Universal Scene Description. RenderMan will play a critical role during this rapidly evolving industry move to adopt USD.”

GUI support for USD is expected to arrive in Linux v22.1, Pixar said.

Pixar said the new RenderMan is more responsive because the plugins for Maya and Katana have been redesigned to make direct API calls, eliminating the need to export scene data or create RIB files. That means “time to first pixel” is much faster and new types of edits to material, lighting and geometry are available. (Houdini is still on RenderMan 21, Pixar noted, but support for v22 is on the way.)

RenderMan now includes the Pixar Unified integrator, an advanced light integrator used on projects including Finding DoryCoco and Incredibles 2.  It resolves caustic paths quickly, which allows more realistic eyes to be created for more convincing digital humans.

In fact, Pixar said RenderMan’s performance has improved by 10% to 100% across the board, thanks to a new architecture redesign and new curve description.  Pure ray-tracing performance has improved threefold, and curve rewrites are between 2x and 6x faster and use less memory, the company said.

Like to dig in? Check out the full list of changes in the RenderMan 22.0 release notes, or come out to SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver next month, where it will be the subject of a series of presentations.

RenderMan v22 is available for download today by customers on maintenance plans. The price of individual licenses has climbed to $595 (from $495) plus $250 for annual maintenance (up from $200), an increase Pixar attributed to “market adjustments and Pixar’s increased investment in RenderMan development.” Get in touch (via rendermansales@pixar.com) if you’re buying in quantity, as volume discounts are offered. And the non-commercial version of RenderMan v22 should be available to researchers, individual artists and students should be available “shortly after SIGGRAPH,” the company said.

Pixar RenderMan: renderman.pixar.com