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View Full Version : What is a good render engine??


thesaint
01-04-2003, 08:32 AM
I have started this thread to pull some of the traffic off the original thread and to allow the conversation to open up a little.

For those catching up with us, you can check out this thread

http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=33132&perpage=15&pagenumber=1

It has been a fascinating journey through ray tracing and the different renderers, mostly PRMan vs everything and everything vs everything.

somlor
01-04-2003, 09:05 AM
Wow. What is a good render engine? Off the top of my head I think a good render engine should:

Work with scene/shader data of any size
Be capable of rendering with both physically accurate algorithms AND non-physical "cheats" selectively in the same scene
Be flexible / user-programmable to the core
Have high image quality and 100% consistency (feed in the same stuff you should always get the same stuff)
Have a human readable / programmable shading language to create both procedural and texture based shaders
Have a robust and friendly system for creating shaders visually
Allow single image and animation renders to be distributed efficiently
Allow the use of floating point images (ie: for HDRI based lighting)

What else? :shrug:

(s)

CHRiTTeR
01-04-2003, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by somlor
What else? :shrug:(s)

Is cheap ;) :rolleyes:

gmask
01-04-2003, 07:24 PM
Originally posted by thesaint
I have started this thread to pull some of the traffic off the original thread and to allow the conversation to open up a little.

For those catching up with us, you can check out this thread

http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=33132&perpage=15&pagenumber=1

It has been a fascinating journey through ray tracing and the different renderers, mostly PRMan vs everything and everything vs everything.


I really liked Mauritius's post on the other thread.. I swear he's making me interested in renderman compliant renderers again.

I have allways felt that if a renderer is not mind numbingly fast or basically close to realtime that it is not justified for it to cost hundreds or let alone thousands of dollars to install per system.

I think that the more expensive renderers should a least have two version.. video res and I mean capable of resolutions of 720x540 not 640x480 and then an unlimited res version.

And then there are free renderers and several to choose from these days!

A good renderer should integrate most of it's components and these days support for hair would be nice, particles, HDRI, etc.

Mauritius
01-05-2003, 12:47 PM
HDRI is supported by all RMan compliant renderers I listed in the other thread. This basically means they do read floating point TIFF for texture maps that may then be used for whatever purpose; e.g. in a lightsource shader to get color and intensity.

Hair is possible via the 'Curve' primitve that renders bicubic curves with a constant width (or even NURB curves if you own RenderDotC). You can have zillions of these and still see your image appear in less than a minute at TV res. Watching "Stuart Little" for a good demonstartion of what this primitive is capable of.
I may add that Shag Hair supports rendering via a RMan compliant renderer in which case this primitive is used.

Particles are supported via the 'Point' primitive. It has a constant color, but of course you can run a shader on each that does fancey stuff or simple shading. This primitve is really well suited for rendering 'real' dust rather than some approximatiation using animated solid textures on bigger primitives. But since RMan renderers only know high-level primitives, you can also use quadric spheres which, too, render damn fast.

PRMan in particular also supports "Blobbys" -- kinda like metaballs on steroids. They have some restrictions from a shader programmers pov though.

.mm

thesaint
01-06-2003, 04:34 AM
If i owned a renderfarm at home, which is getting pretty practical these days, i would use renderman purely for the reason put forth by Mauritius. Flexability, Scalability and Functionality (you know you'll never grow out of it, only every into it) and Price, you could do it all using freeware. That is worth the price of admission (learning the software)

Mauritius made a good point about the number of seats required of a renderer. One is rarely enough and with the price of computers dropping so rapidly it is easy to justify a renderfarm even if you are a one man band. Consider the economics for a moment. If i wait three hours for a render to finish, that would mean that in an 8 hour work day you can only make 2 tweeks, and i have lost 6 hours to a processor. Now the great thing about rendering is that ANY processor is relevant, no fancy graphics card, not even a monitor if you have a switch. You can buy a pretty nice computer for about, oh, $500. If you charge $50 an hour as a freelance (i have no idea what the rate is) that computer pays for itself in less than 2 days of tweeking!
But not if you use a renderer like MR, because you'd have to pay $1,000 for a new seat of it. Instead, you could create a renderman compliant render farm for free!! You could use the money you saved to buy a seat of Artist Tools and PRMan and be in heaven!!!!

oh man, who could resist?

thesaint
01-06-2003, 04:38 AM
gmask, are we getting closer to converting you to the Church of RenderMan yet?????

You know you want it.
Come on, you know you do...


:)

Oh, by the way, i sent a request in for that converstion of Paint FX to geometry too. I figure the more people ask about it the better... But back to the topic at hand.

gmask
01-06-2003, 05:22 AM
Ever since I first laid hands on BMRT (which was after I had used PRman) I had wanted to beable to use it on a regular basis but now i relaly feel like I have the resource to take advantage of it.

The last time I played around with BMRT though I was dissappointed at the lack of multiple proc supprt.. Entrophy is in the can so which of the other free PRMan compatible renderers support multi procs?

If you don't have mTor how usable are they? I have to save up on cash for awhile ;-)

Lyr
01-06-2003, 06:11 AM
There is a renderman compliant renderer, aqsis that has a rib converter for maya called liquid. Seems to be pretty robust, but I am still very green with renderman compliant renderers to know if it is any good. Interestingly enough it seems that Liquid has a weta connection.

Lyr
01-06-2003, 11:16 PM
Well Liquid definately supports Subd's. This isn't the most complete image, but atleast I now know I can render my models in Aqsis using subd's. I'm gonna be in render heaven once I get shaderman working properly with Aqsis. I really can't believe all this stuff is FREE!

gmask
01-06-2003, 11:22 PM
Originally posted by Lyr
Well Liquid definately supports Subd's. This isn't the most complete image, but atleast I now know I can render my models in Aqsis using subd's. I'm gonna be in render heaven once I get shaderman working properly with Aqsis. I really can't believe all this stuff is FREE!

I'll be keeping tuned for sure :eek:

Grosserfrosch
01-08-2003, 05:06 AM
Are there any tutorials for learning the shader language?

And where can I get a PRMan compliant renderer for Max r5?

somlor
01-08-2003, 06:41 AM
I think your best bet is the pick up the Renderman Companion since IMHO the shader language is a bit too advanced to just "pick up" from net tutorials. You could also try poking through some of the freely available shaders on the net, download Shaderman, build some shader network visually and then analyze the code it produces. You may also find this link helpful: http://www.accad.ohio-state.edu/~smay/RManNotes/rmannotes.html

As for a Renderman compliant renderer for Max 5, I think your best bet is to download Maxman lite and either the AIR demo or BMRT (still available off the BMRT yahoo group. (You could also try the Doberman maxscripts instead of maxman but I'm not sure how they perform in Max5). Prman is a specific renderer, by the way. Renderman is the standard that the different renderers adhere to.

(s)

thesaint
01-09-2003, 11:33 PM
Renderman Companion is a great book, but it suffers one major drawback. It was written as a manual for RMan right at the very beginning of it's launch, so some of the information is a little erroneous and it fails to even cover RIB's properly (if at all -- i don't own a copy but did read through our in house copy about a year ago)

You might try Advanced Renderman by Larry and Tony. It is comprehensive, complete and up-to-date. I am sad that i don't own a copy of that either, but i have made it a point to get one.

You can always download a copy of the RI (RenderMan Interface) if you are into the seriously techie stuff. It is available to at our web site.

or check this link out, a neat little forum - https://renderman.pixar.com/

hope it helps.

Lyr
01-10-2003, 02:21 AM
I've just gotten started in working with aqsis and the Advanced Renderman book is helping alot. It covers the shading language in quite a bit of depth and is definately the place to start for people who haven't used renderman before.

somlor
01-10-2003, 02:51 AM
I found this link the other day that seems very helpful: http://cmpa.ca.scad.edu/faculty/kesson/Ca301/index.html

And there is a new book, Essential Renderman Fast (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1852336080/qid=1042170086/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-2491613-8925566?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) , that I just ordered. I hear it's a good place to start. :cool:

(s)

WireFX
01-11-2003, 12:48 PM
I can also recommend "essential renderman fast":thumbsup:
I would suggest this for all the ones that are at the beginning of the (sometimes quite steep) renderman learning curve.
Read this book before you try the "renderman companion" or "advanced renderman".

ciao

Marcus

BTW: Pixar has just opened his support forums for non support contract people. Obviously you will find a lot there too!

Apoclypse
01-13-2003, 08:38 PM
wow, it'[s finally good to see aqsis getting some lovin'. I'[ve been using aqsis since version .53 or something and have been keeping track of how it'[s been progressing so far. You could absolutley believe the programmers boast that it will have full renderman compliant functionality by version 1. It'[s gotten so advanced in so little time.

a23
01-17-2003, 12:09 AM
don't forget air from www.scitexgraphics.com

it has an impressive feature set, supports multiple cpu's unfortunately it's not free. but definitively affordable.

gmask
01-17-2003, 12:44 AM
Originally posted by a23
don't forget air from www.scitexgraphics.com

it has an impressive feature set, supports multiple cpu's unfortunately it's not free. but definitively affordable.

bad link?

thesaint
01-17-2003, 01:20 AM
www.sitexgraphics.com

gmask
01-17-2003, 01:25 AM
Originally posted by thesaint
www.sitexgraphics.com

I got confused there for a minute because there is a company called www.Scitex.com

somlor
01-17-2003, 03:54 AM
Originally posted by a23
don't forget air from www.scitexgraphics.com

it has an impressive feature set, supports multiple cpu's unfortunately it's not free. but definitively affordable.

There is also a demo version. The only limitations are that it "is limited to 4 lights and a single rendering thread and produces watermarked images". I've been told that the watermark is very tolerable.

(s)

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