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DreamWorks Animation Releases Open Source ‘MoonRay’

Previously announced at SIGGRAPH 2022, the production renderer is now available, in an industry standard CMake environment, complete with a new documentation website, restructured libraries, reduced dependencies, and referenced open source packages.

DreamWorks Animation has announced the open source release of its production renderer, MoonRay, now available for general access. At SIGGRAPH 2022, the studio revealed its intended release, subsequently receiving thousands of inquiries. The company has since continued to work on its code base, improved documentation, and interface with prerelease partners demonstrating the renderer’s application outside of the DreamWorks’ studio. The code base is now available at under the Apache 2 open source license.

“I am tremendously proud of the MoonRay team that carefully engineered the renderer with a strict adherence to core multi-processing principles,” said Andrew Pearce, VP of Global Technology at DreamWorks Animation. “MoonRay delivers interactive artistic exploration using all cores or GPUs provided. Like DreamWorks, MoonRay was born at the intersection of art and science. We are eager to see what the wider artist and developer community will do with MoonRay”.

According to DreamWorks, their in-house Monte Carlo Ray Tracer, MoonRay, was designed to focus on efficiency and scalability. The developers’ mantra is to “...keep all the vector lanes of all the cores of all the machines busy all the time with meaningful work” and provide modern features for full artistic expression. It delivers a broad range of images, from photorealistic to strongly stylized. It is built on a leading-edge, highly scalable architecture, allowing quick, feature-film quality artistic iteration using familiar tools. Additional high-performance features include support for distributed rendering, a pixel matching XPU mode, photorealistic ray tracing acceleration via Intel Embree, and other aspects of oneAPI. In addition, MoonRay includes a USD Hydra render delegate for integration into content creation tools supporting that standard.

Since announcing the intended release in August of 2022, the MoonRay team has worked with a small set of beta testers to adapt the code base to be built and run outside of DreamWorks’ pipeline environment. Conversion of the build system to an industry standard CMake environment is complete. It includes a new documentation website, restructured libraries, reduced dependencies, and referenced open source packages. All are current release versions with additional enhancements and features delivered for DreamWorks’ productions.

“The open source release of MoonRay brings a state-of-the-art production renderer to the hands of artists, content creators, and practitioners in realistic simulation empowering community innovation,” noted Anton Kaplanyan, vice president, graphics research at Intel. “As part of this release and in collaboration with DreamWorks, MoonRay users have access to Intel technologies, Intel Embree, and oneAPI tools as building blocks for an open and performant rendering ecosystem.”

“We’re delighted to demonstrate DreamWorks’ continued commitment to open source with the contribution of MoonRay,” added Bill Ballew, Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks Animation. “Our involvement with the community has made us stronger and we look forward to that continued collaboration.”

Documentation, code access, online forums, demonstration videos, and other information are available now at

Source: DreamWorks Animation

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.