Pixar RenderMan

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Official RenderMan Logo
Stable release
22.2 / October 22, 2018; 52 days ago (2018-10-22)
Operating systemLinux, macOS, Windows
TypeRendering system
LicenseProprietary commercial software

Pixar RenderMan (formerly PhotoRealistic RenderMan),[1] is proprietary photorealistic 3D rendering software produced by Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar uses RenderMan to render their in-house 3D animated movie productions and it is also available as a commercial product licensed to third parties.

On May 30, 2014, Pixar announced it would offer a free non-commercial version of RenderMan that would be available to download in August 2014.[2][3] The product's release was postponed to early 2015.[4] As of March 23, 2015, RenderMan is available for non-commercial use.


RenderMan defines cameras, geometry, materials, and lights using the RenderMan Interface Specification. This specification facilitates communication between 3D modeling and animation applications and the render engine that generates high quality images. Additionally RenderMan supports Open Shading Language to define textural patterns.[5]

When Pixar started development, Steve Jobs described the original goal for Renderman in 1991:

"Our goal is to make Renderman and Iceman the system software of the 90's," Mr. Jobs said, likening these programs to Postscript, the software developed by Adobe Systems Inc. for high-quality typography.

Historically, RenderMan used the Reyes algorithm to render images with added support for advanced effects such as ray tracing and global illumination. Support for Reyes rendering and the RenderMan Shading Language were removed from RenderMan in 2016.[7]

RenderMan currently uses Monte Carlo path tracing to generate images.[8]


RenderMan has been used to create digital visual effects for Hollywood blockbuster movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Toy Story, Jurassic Park, Avatar, Titanic, the Star Wars prequels, and The Lord of the Rings. As part of the 73rd Scientific and Technical Academy Awards ceremony presentation on March 3, 2001, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors honored Ed Catmull, Loren Carpenter and Rob Cook with an Academy Award of Merit "for significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar’s RenderMan". It was the first Oscar awarded for a software product.

Studios using RenderMan[edit]

North America[edit]

United States of America[edit]

South America[edit]


  • StartAnima


United Kingdom[edit]




Russian Federation[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ponting, Bob (February 27, 1989). "Renderman Imaging Gets Vendor Support". InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group. pp. 19, 21.
  2. ^ Johnston, Casey (2 June 2014). "Pixar will soon release a free version of Renderman". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  3. ^ Thacker, Jim (30 May 2014). "Pixar to make RenderMan free for non-commercial use". CGchannel.com. CG Channel Inc. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Free Non-Commercial RenderMan FAQ". RenderMan home. Pixar. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 1. When will Non-Commercial RenderMan be released? We are now targeting early 2015 for final release. [...]
  5. ^ "Pixar unveils RenderMan 21 | CG Channel". www.cgchannel.com. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  6. ^ NY Yimes, 1991.04.02 https://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/02/business/hard-times-for-innovator-in-graphics.html
  7. ^ "Pixar ships RenderMan 21 | CG Channel". www.cgchannel.com. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  8. ^ "RenderMan: under the (new) varnish". 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2016-07-22.

External links[edit]