Pixar’s RenderMan has just gotten an update to version 22.5, including a rewritten RenderMan for Houdini plug-in.

New to RenderMan v22.5 is the ability to render mattes in a reflection or through a refraction using the  PxrSurface material. Live displacement-tuning and volume-editing are now available in IPR (interactive preview) mode, and PxrCamera now has a zoom function that doesn’t affect dicing or mipmapping, making it easier to get a closer look at elements of a scene.

Pixar also noted its work with Intel and Sony Pictures Imageworks to enable single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) hardware acceleration of computationally intensive Open Shader Language (OSL) operations.

“With this new capability, we’ve seen up to two times faster full renders and 15% average speedups on a wide range of Pixar scenes using Intel Xeon Scalable processors with Intel Advanced Vector Extensions,” said RenderMan Business Director David Laur in a prepared statement. “Our joint development work with Intel and Sony Pictures Imageworks will be integrated into the open source OSL project to benefit all of its users.”

Toy Story 4
© Disney/Pixar

An area of continuing development for RenderMan is Pixar’s open-source Universal Scene Description (USD) file format and API. A RenderMan Hydra Delegate is expected in June, which will allow the use of third-party tools built around USD’s Hydra imaging framework. By the end of the year, Pixar said, RenderMan should be able to load USD archives as easily as it does the proprietary RIB archives that were originally developed by Pixar back in 1990. At that time, RenderMan should also be able to render USD archives directly from the command line.

A more detailed list of new features and changes is available in the official RenderMan 22.5 release notes.

Meanwhile, the new RenderMan for Houdini has full geometry support, including curves, points, volumes, meshes, and packed primitives as well as interactive geometry placements and deformations, Pixar said. Lighting and cameras can be edited interactively, as can light filters, making it easier for artists to see and interact with their work as they proceed, without restarting the render. And a Preset Browser supports import and export of Autodesk Maya and Foundry Katana materials for asset sharing purposes.

More details are available in the RenderMan for Houdini 22.5 release notes.

A non-commercial version of RenderMan is available as a free download for users who sign up at the official RenderMan forums. A RenderMan license starts at $595, including Tractor network rendering software, with yearly maintenance available for an additional $250/year; rental licenses are available at a $5 daily rate, starting at a minimum of 10 licenses for seven days.

Pixar RenderMan: renderman.pixar.com