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Pixar Animation Studios Showcases New Rendering Technologies at SIGGRAPH 2017

Special previews of live rendering and a CPU + GPU solution accompany the announcement of RenderMan 21.5.

Presentations from Pixar at SIGGRAPH 2017 revealed how feature films such as Cars 3’ and ‘Coco’ (pictured above) drive enhancements to RenderMan’s core technology.

EMERYVILLE, CA -- Pixar Animation Studios gave a special preview of upcoming technologies at the 2017 RenderMan Art & Science Fair at this year’s SIGGRAPH Conference, including new interactive capabilities for RenderMan 22 and work on “XPU” rendering using CPU+GPU cores together. Demonstrations of RenderMan 21.5 showcased break-through technologies for rendering CGI characters, including state-of-the-art skin and hair developed for Pixar production. Presentations from Pixar and ILM revealed how feature films such as Cars 3, Coco, and Rogue One drive enhancements to RenderMan’s core technology.

RenderMan 21.5, released July 26th, contains significant new features like “Path Traced Subsurface Scattering”, the most advanced technique for skin and soft materials available for production VFX. New artistic controls add to RenderMan’s industry-leading hair and fur, providing a wide range of new effects. This latest version delivers raw rendering performance gains on scenes with thousands of light sources, or complex combinations of mesh lights, hair and fur, volumetrics, and arbitrary outputs. The updated Denoiser enables new compositing workflows and is substantially faster due to advanced code optimizations. RenderMan 21.5 delivers UI simplification and workflow improvements for secondary passes, holdouts, material presets, and deep compositing.

“Artists here at MPC were able to use RenderMan to push the boundaries of complexity and realism in films like The Jungle Book,” said Damien Fagnou, CTO at MPC Film. “These new 21.5 features are helping us crash through those boundaries again on the next generation of projects.

Pixar demonstrated several next-generation technologies at the event including a preview of next year’s RenderMan 22. It features “always-on” rendering embedded in artist applications, responding instantly to geometry, camera, light and material edits. This new live rendering mode delivers incredible interactive frame rates with the same renderer used for batch renders. Other RenderMan 22 technologies like fast vectorized OSL shader network evaluation on Intel scalable-SIMD CPUs were also shown.

Finally, Pixar unveiled RenderMan XPU, a combined CPU + GPU solution now under development. The XPU technology renders on both CPUs and GPUs concurrently, taking full advantage of workstation resources. RenderMan XPU was shown live on a production scene, demonstrating the power and artistic possibilities of this upcoming technology. More information on RenderMan XPU will become available closer to delivery, scheduled after RenderMan 22.

“RenderMan 22 is looking phenomenal,” said Steve May, Pixar CTO. “The speed of creative iteration is critical to our artists. I am excited to see what they will do with a truly live, next-gen RenderMan in their hands. They will be able to refine artistic decisions faster and explore a wider range of possibilities while doing it. It’s a great example of RenderMan innovating around the needs of production and feeding new creative tools back to artists.”

RenderMan 21.5 is available for download today at - Customers on annual maintenance can immediately begin using this major update. New purchases are $495 each for permanent licenses, with volume discounts and short-term loan options available. Researchers and non-commercial users can access Educational Grants and single-user Non-Commercial RenderMan, free of charge. Contact RenderMan Sales ‪ for more information or to receive a quote.

Source: Pixar Animation Studios

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.