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One to try: appleseed

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Wreck, a short test animation created with the alpha release of open source physically based renderer appleseed. You can read more about its creation and download the source files from the appleseed website.

It sometimes seems that the first thing any CG programmer with time on his or her hands does is to sit down and write an open source physically based renderer.

But what makes appleseed – yes, another open source physically based render engine – special is that it is being developed by VFX professionals, specifically with production in mind.

Created by Jupiter Jazz, the team behind the AtomKraft lighting toolset for Nuke, appleseed is being created “mostly for fun”.

However, there is a more serious point. According to the development website: “We believe many high end rendering softwares used in production are too clunky, and we would like to show another way of doing things.”

So why another free renderer?
Addressing the obvious question in this thread on Blender Nation, developer François ‘Franz’ Beaune points out that the project actually predates LuxRender and Blender’s new Cycles engine.

Unlike other free renderers, appleseed is specifically intended to facilitate the kind of tricks used in real productions, sacrificing physical correctness for the sake of rendering time. It includes the option to mix physically based and non-physically based materials in the same scene.

According to Beaune: “We’re not trying to duplicate what LuxRender, Cycles or YafaRay already excel at. We’re trying to do something different by targeting addressing the problems that are not covered by most of the other open source renderers, like solid deformation motion blur.”

appleseed is still very much in alpha, and does not yet support displacement or programmable shading, so it’s more one to keep an eye on than one to use out of the box. If you want to play around, it is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and are exporters in development for Blender and Maya.

Visit the appleseed website

Download appleseed

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6 responses to “One to try: appleseed”

  1. Franz said:

    Hi, Franz here, lead dev on appleseed.

    Nice post! I just wanted to point out that, as of version 1.1.0 alpha-12, appleseed *does* support motion blur, specifically camera motion blur (with arbitrarily many steps) and more importantly full ray traced deformation motion blur with arbitrarily many steps. This is something very few (if any) open source renderer supports.


    3:36 am on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

  2. Franz said:

    Oh, another thing I wanted to point out: we’re also developing a Maya-to-appleseed translator, Mayaseed. It’s written by Jonathan ‘Jon’ Topf, member of the appleseed team. At this point Mayaseed is actually much more advanced than Blenderseed. Check it out here:


    3:40 am on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

  3. Jim Thacker said:

    Thanks Franz – I’ll update the text above. I actually took the info about motion blur and the exporters from the ‘About’ page of the appleseed website, so you might need to update that too?

    12:31 pm on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

  4. Franz said:

    Hey Jim, thanks for the update.

    Yeah the About page is badly out of date and needs a complete rewrite anyway. We’ll try to fix that soon.

    Thanks for pointing out the discrepancies!


    1:02 pm on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

  5. CanadaDry said:

    Franz a softimage xsi exporter would be nice 😉

    5:39 am on Thursday, May 10, 2012

  6. Franz said:

    CanadaDry: yes, it totally would 🙂 Unfortunately we don’t have the time or resources to write exporters for all DCC apps. We’re already developing translators for Blender and Maya in-house. When it comes to developing exporters or translators for other apps, all we can do is provide help and support.


    5:46 am on Thursday, May 10, 2012

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