06 June 2005, 08:38 AM
Disclaimer: I am the project lead of Aqsis, however I will make every effort to remain objective in my comments.
Of the renderers you list...
Air: Is not free, it is a commercial renderer, with a limited trial available that watermarks rendered images, presuming you really want free, Air is discounted immediately.
BMRT: Is no longer being developed, nor is it available for download officially to my knowledge (please someone correct me if I'm wrong). That doesn't necessarily discount this option. It is an extremely capable Renderman raytracer. It is purely a raytracer, with some GI support, and as such it is generally slower than the Reyes/hybrid options, although it is still quite workable. If it does what you need, and you aren't concerned about support and future updates, it is definitely a viable option.
3Delight: Probably the fastest Renderman renderer I've used. As I understand it (the licensing has recently changed and I can't find precise details on the 3Delight site), you are free to use a single copy of 3Delight for non-commercial and commercial projects. If you require further licenses, they will cost. 3Delight is a hybrid renderer, that is it has a Reyes system, complemented by a raytracing subsystem. It supports various GI solutions. Basically, if free is your main concern, 3Delight is a very attractive option, fast, relatively stable, and well supported.
Pixie: Not only is Pixie free, but it is Open Source, that is, you have access to the source code should you wish to modify it, or just to understand it's inner workings better. Pixie is also a hybrid Reyes style/raytracer system. It is very feature rich, including such unique features as built in network rendering support. It can occasionally prove to be a little unstable, but that is likely to be addresses with time, as is often the case with OS projects.
Aqsis: Also Open Source, i.e. free to use/modify as you choose according to the rules of the GPL license. Aqsis is a pure Reyes renderer, that is, it has no built in raytracing/GI functionality as yet. Again, as with most OS projects, these features will come with time, according to user requirements/developer time. Aqsis main strengths are stability and development. The developers have produced a comprehensive regression test suite that is used to ensure the ongoing stability of the product during development. There is quite a large development community associated with Aqsis, ensuring it's ongoing development and improvement.
That's about it, if I've gotten anything wrong, or misrepresented any projects, please jump in an correct me. I hope I've remained objective and given each option it's due credit, again if anyone feels I haven't, I apologise and am happy to be corrected.
07 July 2005, 01:50 PM
AQSIS and Pixie are the best renderman engine I've seen.
07 July 2005, 01:50 PM
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