Pixar Animation Studios — Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ other company — has announced a new version of its RenderMan 3D rendering software. Version 11 improves support for ray tracing, global illumination and deep shadows. It also improves performance, according to the folks at Pixar.
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A beta version of RenderMan 11 is due in June, with a final release slated for the fourth quarter of the year. Will it run on Mac OS X? Pixar hasn’t said, but traditionally RenderMan has run on Windows NT/2000 and Linux. On the product’s frequently asked questions site, there’s a note that says that RenderMan doesn’t run on Mac OS X “at this time.” So there may be hope. Another hopeful sign may be that the aforementioned FAQ site notes that “if your machine is able to run Maya then it’s more than capable of running the full RAT [RenderMan Artists Tool] suite.
Anyway, RenderMan Release 11 will employ a hybrid rendering architecture that delivers global illumination and ray tracing effects under precise control of the artist as a natural part of the REYES architecture. Special effects such as reflections, refractions, color bleeding, and shadow penumbras have been achievable before, but with release 11’s new ray tracing subsystem these effects can purportedly be produced with greater accuracy. Also, because the renderer itself can calculate effects that previously required manual intervention, the artist’s setup time for a shot can be dramatically reduced, according to Pixar.
For more information on RenderMan, including product descriptions and price lists, go to the product Web site.