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View Full Version : why is there so few resources on renderman?


dougie0047
08-23-2009, 07:51 PM
Hello. The school were I currently study uses renderman as the primary renderer for their 3d animation films. So, naturally I want to familiarize myself with it, and start to learn it now, so that I can hopefully use more than basic functionality later. For example I would really like to learn how slim works, and try to set up more complex shader networks, much like in maya's hypershade.
But: I'm finding it extremely difficult to find good tutorial material to help me out beyond the basics (or even with the basics, in slim), especially up to date stuff, and to find shaders etc.

Why is this? I mean, I know that Mental Ray ships with Maya and other packages like it, and therefore would take more marketshare. But this surely cannot be the whole explanation. Renderman is just so much faster when a combination of things like displacements, motion blur, particles and sss etc. all come together, that one would think it would be preferred by many more people, that use it for animated films or sequences, than seems to me to be the case.

Why is it that the only stuff I can find are some webpages that seems to have been updates the last time in 2006 or so, some DVD tutorials for Renderman for Maya that just takes you through the most basic things in a "push this button, now push that button" manner, or books that seem more suitable for coders/scientists?

Am I really missing something here? Is the Renderman user base really that meagre? Or does Pixar have some sort of policy that it is only for mathmaticians and coders? Or are they simply too lazy to publish something that can be utilised by all of us that are artists with some technical skills, rather than technicians with some artistic abilities?

This is all very pussling to me... Can anyone explain?

thanks

Doug

phix314
08-23-2009, 07:59 PM
Only think I can think is its used at mostly high levels, i.e. vfx houses and the like, where they have training or access to training. Not sure though. Just a guess.

beaker
08-24-2009, 03:20 AM
prman is primarily used by the film industry and it is a very small niche group of people. People forget that the cgi world is not that big. Prman is also much more expensive then MR (3.5x more).

BTW there are at least a hundred pages on prman tuts and examples that I know of. It might be small compared to MR but still plenty out there.

mister3d
08-24-2009, 04:02 AM
Isn't it also a very complex engine? From what I read, people using it are partially programmers with a physics background. So if you want to be good at it, you must also be able to write shaders for it, and program it from time to time. This is great but if you need to render an archviz or a simple product, it's an overkill. Though I guess Prman is quite capable of it.
The majority of people just need as simple solution as possible to immediately go into the artistic process. I don't know, but perhaps Prman will fade away with time, as the horsepower of computers grows so fast. The longer the learning curve, the more it distracts from the creative process.
I myself already realise the differences for animation and archviz markets, so the differences between some engines are clear to me. Many people don't care about displacement, motion blur and hair. They don't use it and don't need it. And they never use any hacks except from GI photons.
In the end, there are not so many features we use, the question is how they are implemented and how we can speed them up, as well as how memory intensive they are. If the last two are not the issue, people don't need renderman at all.

mr Bob
08-24-2009, 06:20 AM
But: I'm finding it extremely difficult to find good tutorial material to help me out beyond the basics (or even with the basics, in slim), especially up to date stuff, and to find shaders etc.

The manual that ships with prman has a wealth of information, plus brief search using google yields a mass of information on writing shaders for prman. All it takes is your time to sit down and do some reading !.

My application of choice is cutter found here http://www.fundza.com/. There are a host of 101 tutorials on the basics. Also you could read essential renderman for a basic introduction.

ndeboar
08-24-2009, 10:05 AM
What they said, almost no one runs prman as an individual. And for me, to really take advantage of prman, it really helps to be able to write your own shaders.

Check out the siggraph papers that come out each year, loads of great stuff there. And Fundza is a brilliant website.

rainydaze
08-25-2009, 05:00 AM
I used Renderman at my last studio. I'm not the most experienced PR user, but from what I've know, the power of Renderman is in it's Shading Language. Of course there are many other benefits, like fast motion blur and fast displacement, but most of the people I consulted about Renderman were shading programmers.

I feel that when trying to achieve a look in Renderman, there is a lot of emphasis on textures and shaders because Raytracing is so unbelieveabley slow and it's not practical to use it for every reflection and refraction in your scene. So you have these programming and physics guru's to come in and program the look that you want into the shader.

It's getting better with integrating into Maya, and it can translate Maya shaders and has a hypershade-type thing called Slim, but if you're not actually using the shading language, you're kind of missing a lot of the benefits from using the renderer.

That's my take on it, and again, I'm not a Renderman TD or anything...haha.

mister3d
08-25-2009, 06:42 AM
I feel that when trying to achieve a look in Renderman, there is a lot of emphasis on textures and shaders because Raytracing is so unbelieveabley slow and it's not practical to use it for every reflection and refraction in your scene.

What about the point-cloud implementation of glossy reflections and GI in Renderman?

dougie0047
08-29-2009, 03:46 AM
thanks for your replies guys,

the fundza site looks like a really good and useful site, so thaks for the link mr Bob.

How good would you say that Renderman for Maya translates Maya shaders? Are there any limitations, like nodes etc. that it cannot translate?

And for those of you that are experienced users, how useful do you find slim? Is it something that in end effect is almost never used, because people generally program things from scratch, or is it something that is definately worth taking a look at for someone like myself, that's just getting started with renderman?

thanks

Doug

rainydaze
08-29-2009, 05:38 PM
Renderman translated all my Maya shaders just fine, and had a few added attributes to go ontop; like non-physically SSS. I'm sure there are some things that it can't translate, but I used Slim most of the time along with some other programs.

Slim was really useful for me and more intuitive than the Maya Hypershade in my opinion, but they basically do the same type of thing. There was a program called Cutter, which is more geared towards the straight RSL scripter, and also a program called Shaderman, which was my favorite because of the tons of math utilities, but they haven't updated it in a very long time.

Yea there was tons of stuff to learn, but I started with Slim and worked my way towards Cutter. I also bought "The Renderman Shading Language Guide" which was really helpful, but all the stuff in that book, I had already done in one way or another. It was just a matter of being able to see and understand the actual script. It gave me a better understanding of what I was actually doing when using the hypershade.

I found that all this was a rabbit hole though, and at some point I would have to take more math classes and get more into the computer science aspect of 3D animation. This all seemed to be leading towards getting a job in R&D, writing proprietary software and being one of those guys that publishes those .pdfs at Siggraph and stuff. I just want to learn enough to be able to communicate with these guys, and stay on my side as an artist.





thanks for your replies guys,

the fundza site looks like a really good and useful site, so thaks for the link mr Bob.

How good would you say that Renderman for Maya translates Maya shaders? Are there any limitations, like nodes etc. that it cannot translate?

And for those of you that are experienced users, how useful do you find slim? Is it something that in end effect is almost never used, because people generally program things from scratch, or is it something that is definately worth taking a look at for someone like myself, that's just getting started with renderman?

thanks

Doug

rendermaniac
08-29-2009, 09:27 PM
as well as fundza, the Renderman Repository (http://www.renderman.org) has RenderMan Siggraph papers and the last few years Stupid RenderMan Tricks to have a look at.

One of the best resources is still the book Advanced RenderMan by Anthony Apodaca and Larry Gritz. It doesn't cover raytracing or global illumination, but everything else is still relevant.

And as one of those people who runs a renderman related website (RenderMania (http://www.rendermania.com)), most of us are far too busy to update them frequently!

Simon

neuromancer1978
09-01-2009, 05:01 PM
Renderman is not for everyone that is for sure. It takes some dedicated time to learn the software and RSL. For instance in my case I started to get into Renderman around 2003, thanks to Aqsis being developed a couple years prior. I had no clue how to work with it, how to write shaders or how it could work for me considering I dod not have a few thousand to blow on software. Even today I still have to use shader writing tools to make custom shaders, though on the other hand since I have been using Renderman software for 6 years I have become very much acquainted with the spec. Also in my pursuit of learning Renderman I helped develop the Blender to Renderman community that has some of the key people involved on both sides, mainly it was my own quest to be involved with something that I viewed as helpful to people who did want to learn more about Renderman without the hefty price tag. A lot of what I have learned has come from my own training as it is very hard to find some good quality information about Renderman on the net. Plus you also have to factor in that the studios that do use Renderman also develop their own shaders, DSO's, tools and pipelines that become their own secret weapon. Since Renderman is very programmable that is something each of them take advantage of and they wouldn't want everyone to know how they did this or that. Of course some of it is in fact detailed later at Siggraph, for the most part though Renderman remains in the realm of a small dedicated group that have spent a long time working with it.

dougie0047
09-01-2009, 08:06 PM
thanks guys for your in-depth answers! I appreciate it!

@ junghoonjoe: so how did you learn to use slim? Any info on the web that you can point me towards? I mean, I am trying it out at the moment, but I cannot seem to get a grasp of exactly how to layer thing, or make the proper connections etc. (I mean this in a purely practical sense of how the logic behind it works). At the moment I feel a bit like a baby who cannot yet walk, even when trying, as it is quite different from the hypershade :-)
Also Shaderman that you talked about... did you mean the "old" Shaderman, or Shaderman.next?

@ rendermaniac: I'll have a good look at the source you suggested. rendermania.com certainly looks like a good place to visit at least.

@ neuromancer1978: I'm wondering if you had experience with writing shaders for for example mental ray before you started learning renderman or not? How long would you say it took you to become decently enough accustomed to renderman, so that you could produce production quality shaders. I'm asking, because right now I'm studying, and thus have more time to spend on my own projects etc., and I want to be early out when it comes to planning for my final project...

Also, do you guys have a lot of math/physics knowledge from either uni or self-study?

Again, thanks very much!

Doug

neuromancer1978
09-02-2009, 09:05 PM
...

@ neuromancer1978: I'm wondering if you had experience with writing shaders for for example mental ray before you started learning renderman or not? How long would you say it took you to become decently enough accustomed to renderman, so that you could produce production quality shaders. I'm asking, because right now I'm studying, and thus have more time to spend on my own projects etc., and I want to be early out when it comes to planning for my final project...

Also, do you guys have a lot of math/physics knowledge from either uni or self-study?

Again, thanks very much!

Doug

Renderman was the first time I really used any kind of programmable renderer, so it was not until later that I messed with MentalRay and since I tend to like Renderman more I have not made custom MR shaders. I took me at least 2-3 years before I really got the hang of Renderman and understood a lot of what it is. All of my skills pretty much came from my own study, I have never taken a course in Renderman or anything, I was in a Computer Science degree program at my school but I really suck at math and more of an artist anyway. So if you are in the math related and programming field of study then Renderman could be even easier for you to learn. RSL for example is similar to C programming, if not derived from the language itself.

ndeboar
09-03-2009, 09:55 PM
re: Slim

The docs provider are pretty good, and there is a layered shader template provided.

Re: Witting shaders

Go get a copy of advanced renderman, loads of good tips on witting shaders there.

re: maths/phyiscs. No better way to learn than doing. Advanced renderman has lots of maths tutorials to get you up to speed on the basics.

dougie0047
09-03-2009, 10:38 PM
thanks again for your answers guys!

So I guess that I have some books to buy then, and practice, practice practice of course...

Good to hear that it's not an impossible thing to learn though, even if you need to spend a considerable time learning. But I'm ok with that.

As for the documents, and example files provided with them etc.: is it possible for me to sign up at pixar support as a student? I only have access to renderman at my uni, but am unsure if I'm elligible to sign up and start bugging them with my questions etc.? Am asking because I know that when I click on help I get sent to pixar's website where I have to sign up. Just curious.

thanks

Doug

beaker
09-03-2009, 11:28 PM
pixar has a public renderman forum that people can post on. There is a separate support forum for people with a support contract. I'm sure you can post questions on the public one and get questions answered none the less.

ndeboar
09-04-2009, 11:17 PM
the moderated pixar forums are bloody helpful, so maybe bug your teachers for access. There are a few students that post there. But im sure there are loads of people on cgtalk too that are happy to help, need to get some more renderman action here :)

dougie0047
09-12-2009, 02:46 PM
thanks guys!

Yes, I guess I'll try to bug my professors about it. Lets see. As a substiture for the renderman support, I've just purchased the renderman learning kit from escape, so hopefully that will get me a few steps forward as a start. And I assume that you'll see me posting some stupid renderman questions here in the future :-)

@ beaker: Maybe I'm doing something wrong here, but I cannot seem to find this public forum for renderman at pixar that you write about... So, do you have the link to it?

Thanks,

Doug

playmesumch00ns
09-12-2009, 05:19 PM
thanks guys!

Yes, I guess I'll try to bug my professors about it. Lets see. As a substiture for the renderman support, I've just purchased the renderman learning kit from escape, so hopefully that will get me a few steps forward as a start. And I assume that you'll see me posting some stupid renderman questions here in the future :-)

@ beaker: Maybe I'm doing something wrong here, but I cannot seem to find this public forum for renderman at pixar that you write about... So, do you have the link to it?

Thanks,

Doug

https://renderman.pixar.com/forum/

dougie0047
09-16-2009, 10:04 AM
aha! Me stupid!
I've already looked there, but for some reason, since it was under the support section, I thought this was not the public forum.
Thanks!

Doug

tharrell
09-16-2009, 03:25 PM
Shame, but folks with educational licenses (even instructor licenses) don't get access to the real support forums, just the public/eval ones.

That said, the support team has been phenomenal answering my questions about proper SSS workflows on the eval boards.

Only way to really learn is to dive in & start working with it. I'm about 2 months into using PRMan at home now, and it took me about that long to re-learn my workflows for stuff like skin/SSS, displacements & lighting. I've got a big list of displacement tips for RfM/RMS up on my site right now (linked in my sig).

If you're like me, you've spent years learning to make things close to physically accurate in MR -- stuff you'll need to unlearn to really get to the power underneath PRMan. Learn to love shadow maps and pointclouds, and only turn on raytracing if you really, really need it at first. Raytracing is a crutch, and you'll learn to shade & light better without it.

Eventually you'll learn how to control localizing your tracing for stuff like refractions, but get a handle on those shadow maps and pointcloud reflections first :)

--T

jeremybirn
09-16-2009, 03:44 PM
Eventually you'll learn how to control localizing your tracing for stuff like refractions

Refractions? What are refractions? ;)

-jeremy

playmesumch00ns
09-16-2009, 04:08 PM
The stuff of nightmares, that's what they are :) That and diffuse transmission.

tharrell
09-16-2009, 04:14 PM
Refractions? What are refractions? ;)

-jeremy

Ha! I've been called out. That's what I get for trying to be Yoda.

Eventually you'll learn to code RSL so you can cheat stuff like refractions too ;)

In fact, I can't think of much stuff that you can't cheat effectively if you're not going for physical accuracy.

There's a huge wealth of knowledge in the Siggraph papers / stupid RAT tricks hosted at renderman.org -- and there's a ton more in the ACM reference library if you're a Sig member.

--T

ljartigas
09-16-2009, 07:10 PM
How can 3Delight help you in learning Renderman???

ndeboar
09-17-2009, 12:54 AM
3delight is renderman

ljartigas
09-17-2009, 06:14 PM
3delight is renderman

okay, so what you learn with 3delight is directly transferable to Pixar's Photo realistic Renderman?

How does using 3delight compare to Renderman for Maya

there most be some difference, one is free the other very expensive.

So I assume it is worthwhile to use and learn 3Delight in the hopes of getting acquainted with Pixar's Photo realistic Renderman ??

thanks

beaker
09-17-2009, 06:51 PM
How does using 3delight compare to Renderman for MayaLots of threads on this, just do a search.

Here is a recent one:
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=87&t=800082&highlight=3delight

Look through all Mauritius' threads, he is a very prolific 3delight TD and always pops up in these type of threads.

ljartigas
09-17-2009, 07:10 PM
Look through all Mauritius' threads, he is a very prolific 3delight TD and always pops up in these type of threads.

Thanks for that

rendermaniac
09-17-2009, 09:49 PM
3delight also has a good forum here:

http://www.3delight.com/en/modules/PunBB/

Personally I find the Pixar docs a little easier to get around, and I prefer the workflow a little bit more with RenderMan for Maya.

However technically 3delight is very good, and 3delight for Maya's hypershade translation seems better than RenderMan for Maya.

Simon

ndeboar
09-18-2009, 05:58 AM
okay, so what you learn with 3delight is directly transferable to Pixar's Photo realistic Renderman?


Mostly, yes. There are some workflow differences, but there are only small differnces in rib/rsl between 3delight/prman.

How does using 3delight compare to Renderman for Maya

there most be some difference, one is free the other very expensive.

3delight isn't "free", you can download 1 free commercial licences. They both have their pros and cons, both are used on feature films.

So I assume it is worthwhile to use and learn 3Delight in the hopes of getting acquainted with Pixar's Photo realistic Renderman ?? Yup!

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