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DreamWorks to open-source its MoonRay renderer

Saturday, August 6th, 2022 | Posted by Jim Thacker

DreamWorks Animation is to make MoonRay, its in-house production renderer, available open-source.

The ray tracing renderer, used on animated features like The Bad Guys and the upcoming Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, will be publicly available later this year, along with Arras, its distributed rendering framework.

A high-performance Monte Carlo ray tracer capable of photorealistic and stylised output
Although DreamWorks has made individual in-house technologies available to the public before – it open-sourced sparse volumetric data format OpenVDB in 2012 – MoonRay is a beast of a different scale.

Developed to replace Moonlight, the studio’s old rasterisation renderer – this 2017 Siggraph presentation explores its origins – MoonRay is a high-performance Monte Carlo ray tracer.

It was designed with the aim of keeiping “all the vector lanes of all the cores of all the machines busy all the time”, and has an hybrid GPU/CPU rendering mode capable of “100% output matching” with CPU rendering.

As well as DreamWorks’ trademark stylised animation, MoonRay is capable of photorealistic output, and has the key features you would expect of a VFX renderer, including AOVs/LPEs, deep output and Cryptomatte.

It should also play nicely in a standard production pipeline: in the Siggraph presentation linked above, DreamWorks describes it as integrating with Maya and MotionBuilder as well as its own lighting tools.

MoonRay also comes with a Hydra render delegate, which will make it possible to integrate as an interative viewport renderer in DCC software that supports Hydra delegates, like Houdini and Katana.

Arras framework distributed final-quality, interactive and multi-context rendering
Along with the core renderer, DreamWorks is open-sourcing Arras, its distributed computation framework.

As well as final-quality output, it can be used to accelerate interactive rendering, and for ‘multi-context rendering’ during look dev, visualising multiple lighting or material variants across shots and sequences.

Licensing, system requirements and release dates
MoonRay will be available under an open-source Apache 2.0 licence later this year.

Downloads will be available from the new OpenMoonRay website and DreamWorks’ GitHub repository. Online documentation, including system requirements, is “coming soon”.

Read DreamWorks Animation’s announcement that it is to open-source MoonRay

Visit the OpenMoonRay website

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