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RenderMan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about RenderMan version 24

Soul © Disney/ Pixar

What’s new with RenderMan?

RenderMan version 24 delivers new interactive rendering capability with the first release of RenderMan XPU™, as well as new picture making capabilities with features like RenderMan Stylized Looks and a new Layered Materials (Lama) system. Other features include color management capabilities and live statistics. RenderMan 24 has been created to expand the palette of creative possibilities by giving artists more creative options, as well as to provide a greater amount of interactivity.

What is RenderMan XPU™?

RenderMan XPU is a new CPU + GPU hybrid renderer that lives alongside RenderMan RIS. It uses both the CPU and GPU together to give artists faster renders. RenderMan XPU brings greater interactivity to artists. Artists will be able to more quickly iterate and see their results with RenderMan XPU, resulting in both increased creativity as they explore possibilities, as well as greater productivity because they won’t be waiting as long for renders to complete. While RenderMan XPU is not the same as RenderMan RIS, the pictures that you can render with XPU are representative of what you can render with RIS.

How can I evaluate RenderMan XPU™?

Note that RenderMan XPU is not included in Non-Commercial RenderMan, so to try out XPU you will have to request an official evaluation from RenderMan Sales. Because of the high interest in XPU, we will be prioritizing larger commercial studios first, as each evaluation request is considered on an individual basis. As we expect to receive many requests for evaluations, your patience is appreciated while we process all of these requests.

What use cases can I use RenderMan XPU™ for?

While RenderMan XPU is a general purpose renderer, it does not yet have all of the features of RenderMan RIS. This first version of RenderMan XPU is well suited for Look Development. The renders that you get from RenderMan XPU will be predictive of the renders you get from RenderMan RIS. The interactive capabilities of RenderMan XPU will help artists in multiple areas of the pipeline. See the RenderMan documentation for a list of all of the features and limitations of XPU.

To what extent can I write customizations for RenderMan XPU™?

XPU supports custom OSL patterns in the same way that RIS does. In fact, most of the patterns that we ship in RenderMan 24 have been converted from C++ to OSL so that the same code runs in both RIS and XPU. XPU does not currently support customization beyond OSL patterns. We are evaluating how we can expose other features of XPU with APIs so that in the future you can customize it in similar ways to RIS. A few of our closest partners will be helping us in this process.

What kind of GPU should I have for RenderMan XPU™

The GPU side of XPU only supports NVIDIA graphics cards on Linux and Windows. You must have a Maxwell class card or above and be using a recent driver. Because GPUs are more memory constrained than CPUs, we recommend that given the option, to put your money into a card with as much memory as possible. If you need to render a scene that goes beyond the memory capabilities of your graphics card, you can always fall back to using the CPU side of XPU.

What are RenderMan Stylized Looks and how do they work?

RenderMan Stylized Looks are a framework for creating looks that go beyond the photo-realism that RenderMan is known for. RenderMan has and will continue to be a renderer that is built on the notion that flexibility in renders is critical to giving artists the power they need to tell a variety of stories, no matter what the art direction. RenderMan Stylized Looks allow artists to more easily create non-photorealistic renders, such as creating animatable pen and ink illustrations or creating toon shading. Each RenderMan integration into a Digital Content Creation application provides features for easily adding the shading and render setup controls needed to create Stylized Looks.

Can I write additional Stylized Looks components to customize it?

Artists can customize each Stylized Look. For example, for pen and ink illustrations you can provide your own textures for line hatching to give your own renders a different style from another artist’s stylized renders. If you’re a developer, you can’t extend the Stylized Looks. RenderMan Stylized Looks provide a set of pre-packaged technologies that work together to create a given look.

What is Lama and how does it work?

Originally developed by Industrial Light & Magic, Lama is short for “Layered Materials” and is now a native part of RenderMan. ILM has been using Lama since 2018 in their productions. Lama provides a robust framework for layering different material properties together, using higher-level artist-friendly building blocks. For example, Lama makes it easy to create a material for your object, and then to add a layer of dust on top of it.

How is Lama related to MaterialX?

Lama is an official part of MaterialX, and is intended to formalize higher level abstractions of MaterialX pre-defined sub-networks that are both convenient for typical uses and artist friendly. These can be leveraged as you would any other MaterialX graph, but renderers can also choose to implement Lama nodes monolithically as long as they comply with their native MaterialX reference implementation. The MaterialX Lama node network definitions will be published as part of the MaterialX repository and are to be considered the “ground truth” implementation.

Can I write additional Lama components to customize it?

If you are an artist, you can use the different building blocks of Lama to build up unique materials in any combination. There is, at present, no developer API to create additional custom Lama nodes. Only the out-of-the-box feature set is available.

Does RenderMan retain its traditional customizability?

Yes. RenderMan offers a complete set of ready to use rendering and artist tools, but it also retains its storied ability to be profoundly customized by experts who want to develop unique looks or unique pipelines around the RenderMan core. A fundamental aspect of the RIS architecture is the ability to replace components or even entire renderer subsystems with custom plug-ins or scriptable elements, such as for BxDFs, Patterns, Projections, Integrators, LightPathExpressions, and more. All of the traditional aspects of custom geometric proceduralism are still supported as well, such as programmatic generation of particles, hair, or foliage.

Are there different versions of RenderMan for different studios?

No. RenderMan exists in one standard version for everyone and the technology that Pixar develops for RenderMan has always been delivered to the entire RenderMan community through the productization efforts of the RenderMan team. It is RenderMan’s famous underlying flexibility that allows individual studios to customize the renderer via their own, shaders, plug-ins and other pipeline tools.

Product Questions

What 3D applications does RenderMan support?

Pixar provides artist-friendly, deeply integrated RenderMan interface plug-ins for Autodesk’s Maya®, The Foundry’s KATANA®, SideFX’s Houdini®, and Blender®. Please refer to for details of version compatibility for each new release.

What about support for other applications like Cinema4D® or Autodesk 3ds Max®?

We track the applications that are most important to productions at Pixar, ILM, and our community of commercial customer studios, and we frequently evaluate additional deep integrations within other Digital Content Creation applications. We understand the power and capabilities of applications such as Cinema4D and 3ds Max, and the strong interest in them. We are pursuing integrations for these applications, and others, sometimes through third parties, as commercial priorities allow. Please contact us at and we can help you find the best solution for your requirements.

Is Tractor included in the latest version of RenderMan?

Yes. New purchases of RenderMan include a matching number of Tractor licenses. Tractor is also available separately at $100 per license.

The Future Of RenderMan

Will I be able to use RenderMan XPU™ for other uses beyond Look Development?

Yes. While we feel the RenderMan 24 version of XPU is best suited for look development, you can use it for whatever you like, as long as the feature restrictions of XPU don’t cause you any problems. For example, if your use case needs AOVs, XPU isn’t ready yet. But for other types of renders, XPU is ready. For example, you may want to use XPU to create quality control renders to validate your animation caches or simulations.

What is the relationship between RenderMan and other R&D groups within Disney?

There are a number of research initiatives within the Disney Studio organization including Pixar, Disney feature Animation, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney Research in Zurich, and others. Each of these groups is separate so they pursue different approaches to rendering and solving production problems in different ways. No other rendering R&D effort can compare with the resources and depth of experience embodied in the Disney organization and its decades of experience defining the state of the art in animation and film rendering. RenderMan is the conduit through which tools and techniques that derive from this R&D effort will be channeled into the public domain, most recently with ILM contributing Lama to RenderMan. Pixar and these other Disney groups describe their significant contributions regularly at commercial and technical research venues around the world.

Pricing FAQ

What is the price of RenderMan?

RenderMan costs $595 per license, providing access to either the artist interface or the batch renderer. For larger requirements over 50 licenses, and especially over 250 licenses, attractive studio pricing and payment packages are available. Usage based cloud licensing is available through various cloud compute vendors separately. Rentals and special short-term burst capacity options are also available.

Is maintenance on RenderMan available and what does it cover?

Yes. Maintenance is $250 per RenderMan license for commercial users and includes full support and upgrades throughout the renewable 1-year term of the agreement.

Are RenderMan subscription licenses available?

Several licensing models are available. Traditional perpetual licenses are what many studios continue to choose. These licenses allow you to run the version of RenderMan available at purchase time for as long as you like, for an up-front purchase price. By purchasing recurring annual maintenance for those initial licenses, they can be upgraded to new major releases immediately as they become available. License rentals provide access to the current release for a short term, then the licenses expire. For studios needing a large number of licenses, RenderMan is also available in fixed-term bundles with annual billing on an attractive discount schedule.

Are RenderMan licenses floating or node-locked?

All commercial RenderMan licenses are available as floating, providing the flexibility to deploy RenderMan anywhere on your network. However, node locked licenses are available if required.

Non-Commercial Licensing FAQ

When is the free Non-Commercial RenderMan available?

The free Non-Commercial version of RenderMan has been updated to version 24 and is currently available for download.

Can I download previous version of Non-Commercial RenderMan?

No, Non-Commercial RenderMan downloads are updated to the latest available version in order to keep the research community up to date, simplify community support, and to ensure that tool developers have a consistent target platform.

How does Pixar define “non-commercial” use?

Simply any usage of RenderMan that does not involve direct commercial use to generate profits. Example non-commercial use-cases include evaluations, personal learning and familiarization, student usage, any type of experimentation, research, and the development of tools and plug-ins that compliment RenderMan.

Can I use RenderMan XPU with the free non-commercial RenderMan?

No. RenderMan XPU is only available to commercial license holders or to educational institutions.

Can I use RenderMan Stylized Looks with the free non-commercial RenderMan?

No. RenderMan Stylized Looks are only available to commercial license holders or to educational institutions.

Can I use Lama with the free non-commercial RenderMan?

Yes. RenderMan’s new layered material framework from Industrial Light and Magic, Lama, is available to both commercial and non-commercial users of RenderMan.

Is the free non-commercial RenderMan restricted in any other way?

No. There is only one RenderMan and the free non-commercial RenderMan is exactly the same as the commercial version except for access to XPU and Stylized Looks. Beyond that, there are no watermarks or no time limits. Upon acceptance of the EULA at installation, the software must only be used for non-commercial purposes. Technical support for Non-Commercial RenderMan is supplied by the active and highly technical community itself.

Is Non-Commercial RenderMan appropriate for Educational Institutions?

In general, no. Non-Commercial RenderMan is intended for individual use. For classroom deployment or other educational use cases, please contact to discuss whether other options such as floating license grants may apply. Educational Institutions will have access to RenderMan XPU and to RenderMan Stylized Looks through their licenses.

Soul © Disney/Pixar