Friday, October 16th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Pixar launches RenderMan for Houdini

Shading in Houdini 15. Through RenderMan for Houdini, a new bridge plugin linking the two applications shipped with Houdini out of the box, Houdini now implements several key RenderMan shaders.

Pixar has announced RenderMan for Houdini, a new bridge product linking the two software packages, developed in collaboration between Pixar and Houdini developer Side Effects Software.

The plugin ships out of the box with Houdini 15, which we covered yesterday, but Pixar’s own announcement goes into quite a lot more technical detail.

Implements RenderMan shaders inside Houdini
Developed for Pixar’s own feature films, RenderMan for Houdini (RfH) provides a bridge between Houdini and RenderMan, including support for the renderer’s new RIS framework, a shader suite, and interactive rendering.

New shading options within Houdini include an implementation of Disney’s Principled shader, intended as a more intuitive, flexible alternative to strictly physically accurate shading, and the PxrLM layered material system.

There are also a range of RIS shaders, listed in full on Side Effects’ website.

RIS shaders are available in the RIS Shader Network SHOP, while Houdini’s VOP visual programming context provides a “native environment for building RIS shaders with OSL support”.

Support for RenderMan’s advanced render options
RfH supports the light transport methods in RenderMan, letting the user switch between path tracing and VCM (Vertex Connection and Merging: a hybrid of bidirectional path tracing and progressive photon mapping).

The former works well on outdoor or very specular scenes; the latter on indoor or indirectly illuminated scenes.

The plugin supports raytraced caustics and subsurface scattering without the need to generate pre-passes; along with RenderMan 20‘s Denoise feature, which cleans up fast, noisy raw renders as a post-process.

OpenVDB, procedural primitives, AOVs and RIB archives
Other features of note include support for volumetrics in OpenVDB format and RiProcedural plugins for creating “procedural geometry, feathers, and custom shaders”.

Through RfH, Houdini artists can use RenderMan to generate a range of AOVs and Light Path Expressions, with support for deep textures; and can cache scene geometry, including animated sequences, as RIB Archives.

Pricing and availability
RenderMan for Houdini now ships with Houdini. It is compatible with RenderMan 20.3 or higher running on 64-bit Windows 7 or above, Mac OS X 10.9 or above, or Linux (gcc 4.4.5 and glibc 2.12 or above).

It includes unlimited multi-threaded rendering, so you can make use of all of the threads available within a single licence. RenderMan itself costs $495 for a floating licence, and is free for non-commercial use.

Read more about RenderMan for Houdini on Pixar’s website