Friday, June 28th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Pixar releases RenderMan Pro Server 18


Spot the difference: RenderMan Pro Server 18’s new beam diffusion model (centre and right) produces crisper, more realistic subsurface scattering effects than the existing dipole diffusion model (left).

Pixar has released RenderMan Pro Server 18: a sizeable update to its movie-industry-standard renderer, and one that comes less than a year after the previous release.

The feature set nods to the current need for more interactive relighting workflows, supporting path tracing for “greatly enhanced interactive re-rendering, allowing lighters … to get home by suppertime”.

Other new features include the power to turn any geometric primitive into an area light, hybrid sampling for faster rendering of volume-based effects like smoke and flames, and correlated multi-jitter sampling.

Improved SSS for more realistic rendered skin
The release also adds a new method for calculating SSS, Beam Diffusion Subsurface Sampling.

According to Pixar, “This new model is only slightly more expensive than standard SSS, but produces much more satisfying results (results similar to quantized diffusion, but that are numerically stable for animation).”

RenderMan Pro Server 18 is available now, price $2,000. Its sister product, RenderMan Studio, which incorporates the old RenderMan for Maya, has not been updated yet.

Pixar Animation Studios today announced the release of RenderMan Pro Server 18, demonstrating Pixar’s commitment to an ongoing series of rapid functional releases that continue to advance the state of the art in cinematic quality rendering. This major version upgrade presents core enhancements in lighting workflows including important new features such as path tracing and accelerated re-rendering, while at the same time delivering a new level of lighting performance through geometric area lights, beam diffusion subsurface scattering facilitating the physically correct simulation of human skin, and enhanced processing of volumes. This latest RenderMan release sets a new standard in rendering technology, as RenderMan once again anticipates the latest demands in feature film visual effects and animation.

“Geometry lights are awesome!” said Mitch Prater (LLC), Shading System Architect for Laika VFX. “It’s a fantastic achievement with geometric area lights that have tons of great features, better sampling for faster and better results, interactive path tracing, and expanded controls and shading information access. It’s a huge step up from 17.”

“The all-round improvements in RenderMan Pro Server 18, such as memory usage, a new path tracing hider and improved subsurface scattering, have enabled us to greatly extend our physically-based lighting and shading workflow,” said Dan Seddon, Creative Director, Method Studios, New York. “The addition of geometric area lights has provided us with vastly improved sampling whilst simplifying their control with fewer parameters. More than ever, we can now render with the same setups regardless of whether we are rendering hard surfaces, organics, or volumes. All of this while having the familiar tricks and tools we often need to fall back on when the schedule crunch arrives.”

Read a full list of new features in RenderMan Pro Server 18