So: What is the REAL Story on RenderMan?

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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by wancow: This may be true, but the strategy would be the same. An increased userbase means better sales, and more development. Weren't there rumours a while back that the guys developing 3DSmacks were basically pirating the software themselves to increase the userbase. That may or may not be true, but the same thing applies in that case if it was. Market insertion means a bigger userbase, more brand recognition and benefits development, which, you are saying, is what Pixar wants...

Huh?
Where did I say Pixar wants a bigger userbase and brand recognition? They have clearly demonstrated they aren't terribly interested in either, as neither seems to go along with what they seem to want out of commercialising PRMan. It's hardly about straight monetization, but I'm not sure you understood what I wrote.
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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Pixar doesn't care much for the sales of PRMan for the hard cash intake. Pixar cares about the sales and the userbase because it's additional and free testing and feedback, and because it means that a rather unique and circumscribed group is self sustaining.

I have yet to see them, ever, doing something to try to push more volume for the sake of sales/earnings.

If they ever change any formula it's to make sure they don't lose the client base they are interested in, seldom, if ever, they go after new markets, which would be what they would do if the point was making money off licensing (which is probably a single digit percentage of what the merchandising on just ONE cars or TS movie makes).


Have you seen the new Pixar's RenderMan website? I'm not going to say you are wrong, i'm aware you know this industry way better than me, but i think with the new design, the new prices, the student licences, with all this they are making more easy to everybody to try RenderMan. Of course this doesn't mean they want to increase sales, but it could be. You can even now find some educational links to the fundamentals, how to's and examples of RenderMan, which in the past you have to search the entire web, only to find just a tiny bit of info. The new marketing is looking like they want to sale more, IMHO. All and all, these days you can try different render engines easier than some years back, which i think is good for smaller studios or independent artists.
(excuse my poor english)
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  01 January 2013
No need to pre-emptively apologize or put our relative knowledge of the industry against a ruler I don't work for Pixar, nor have in the past, and my involvment with rendering these days is tangential at best. Educated or not mine is a stated opinion, much like anybody else's

Yes, Pixar has been pursuing several angles in the last few months/couple years that are fresh to the platform compared to the past, as has the development of the platform (that looked dead in the water, for the nth time, yet came back strong with the new physically plausible side of things done in a dev friendly way).

I'm sure their diversification in format with the Canadian office and short form, as well as the prominence of some recently commercialised engines threatening their historical user base, has had more than a little to do with that.
I don't think that changes their core model, or at least what I gather their core model to be, just what they face to as a userbase changed both internally and externally, and they've caught up to it, or are in the process of.

That said, it remains PRMan. It's not some undecided, popular engine following the fads and whims of a large public trying to be too much and losing its identity in the process. It means to be what it's always been, a robust, dev friendly (not to be confused with dev only) engine targeted towards teams with some technical component to them. It's what made it good at what it does for so long, while some other engines have more than once lost their true North, and ended up a mess.
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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Pixar doesn't care much for the sales of PRMan for the hard cash intake. Pixar cares about the sales and the userbase because it's additional and free testing and feedback, and because it means that a rather unique and circumscribed group is self sustaining.

I have yet to see them, ever, doing something to try to push more volume for the sake of sales/earnings.

If they ever change any formula it's to make sure they don't lose the client base they are interested in, seldom, if ever, they go after new markets, which would be what they would do if the point was making money off licensing (which is probably a single digit percentage of what the merchandising on just ONE cars or TS movie makes).


I get this same feeling.
Even for a single user like me, the dev team is so helpful and so fast to respond. They have never tried to push a single sale on us even though we have a relatively modest farm.

The guys will literary implement fixes and full blown features into the software at the request of the user base. Sometimes with weeks or a couple of months from the request, which is unheard of in most software companies.

Renderman is not for the faint of heart and yes, it does take patience and a learning spirit to fully tap it's potential, but it is possible to enjoy using it, especially when you start to see the reliability of both the software and the dev team project after project.

Even a slight customization here and there go a long way and you can go as deep as you want. Now a days the built in tools for RMS are fantastic, so setup time has decreased dramatically, plus the hybrid raytracing is very fast, so if you're a "brute force raytracing" kind of person, then you can also go that route.
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  01 January 2013
I had bought PRMan for my masters work a while back, edu priced. The support forums were fantastic. I found a bug that broke a rather big shader network in slim. i worked with the guys and they found a fix and actually put it in a point release! I was so stoked.
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  01 January 2013
Leif - Do you think renderman for Maya would be a good investment for a solo lighting artist? I really want to get into lighting, specifically for animation films. Been testing out Vray for a while. While it's fantastic for realistic work, I'm not sure I really like its style when it comes to stylized characters/scenes.
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: No need to pre-emptively apologize or put our relative knowledge of the industry against a ruler I don't work for Pixar, nor have in the past, and my involvment with rendering these days is tangential at best. Educated or not mine is a stated opinion, much like anybody else's


Fair enough. Thanks for your input.

One thing i will like to add, talking about miscoceptions and what not, is that the technical side of RenderMan remains. A couple of months back i took a RenderMan course at Fxphd and i won't say i didn't learn a thing, buy it was difficult for me since i'm not familiar with many CG technical side of things. But it was fun
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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by Panupat: Been testing out Vray for a while. While it's fantastic for realistic work, I'm not sure I really like its style when it comes to stylized characters/scenes.


I confused how a renderer could have a particular style? Could you explain what you mean?
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by Panupat: LBeen testing out Vray for a while. While it's fantastic for realistic work, I'm not sure I really like its style when it comes to stylized characters/scenes.


This was rendered wit vray as far as I know, it is very stylized http://player.vimeo.com/video/43117800 but as any other render on the market it is highly dependent from artist and his ability.
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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Huh?
Where did I say Pixar wants a bigger userbase and brand recognition? They have clearly demonstrated they aren't terribly interested in either, as neither seems to go along with what they seem to want out of commercialising PRMan. It's hardly about straight monetization, but I'm not sure you understood what I wrote.


Any company that has applied for a trademark wants brand recognition. RenderMan is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a TM of Pixar Animation Studios. There's no other reason to register a trademark. I didn't say you said they want better brand recognition, it's obvious on it's face

A bigger user base for RenderMan helps them out with development, which you stated was part of their goal. It helps out every company that puts out software to have a bigger user base (with the possible exception of Adobe...)
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by TAVO: Have you seen the new Pixar's RenderMan website? I'm not going to say you are wrong, i'm aware you know this industry way better than me, but i think with the new design, the new prices, the student licences, with all this they are making more easy to everybody to try RenderMan


You pretty much put into words what I saw when I saw the site and how elaborately and obviously commercial it is.

Couple that with the release of OpenSubDiv.

It occurres to me that the release of OpenSubDiv is actually a way for Pixar to force the 3D industry to bend its will.

With the release of OpenSubDiv, what they we are very likely to see is that modellers, the software, will have to implement it to remain viable as it's very likely to become an industry standard very, very quickly.

Since PRman already has a leg up on OpenSubDiv, it will, if I'm right, remain the 800lbs Gorilla in the industry, thereby securing its place for years to come.

This probably isn't a bad thing in the end. Standardization of Geometries will more than likely help the industry rather than hurt it... though the notion that Pixar is just a bunch of evil geniouses out for world domination does make my head spin a bit

Last edited by wancow : 01 January 2013 at 07:40 PM.
 
  01 January 2013
May I ask a question? And excuse my ignorance here. But for years I have always wondered why there is a need for 'shader's' that are so complicated that a level of programing is needed. I wondered if it was some dark art and must admit to feeling a bit of a fool for asking.

Could someone give me a 'layman's' example of why such a system is needed?
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  01 January 2013
You need to find some way of rendering objects so that they look realistic. If you were to build a physically accurate renderer that only relies on the most simple of shaders, you'd probably wait a very long time for your images to finish.

So, we build simplified models of how something is to be shaded. You simplify light sources, how shadows are drawn, add additional geometry detail, pretend to bounce light or refract it, etc. So, we have these very elaborate, computationally fast but fake physical models of how stuff looks when you shine lights on it.

There are always things you want to do better. A faster algorithm to do this or that. A better way to generate shadows or an effect of sorts. A lot of these requirements are show driven. Suddenly you need to get really good looking dust that gets very close to camera. Or some shiny oily surfaces, or this or that, and there is this new way you could do it or improve the current way. Maybe somebody decides to simplify everything, or split it up so that different teams can work on different parts. In fx you can often do bits during shading that you'd otherwise have to do in geometry. You see, a vast monster of systems and methods, knowledge and experience and requirements builds up.

You want to respond to those challenges with a flexible tool that can be tweaked and changed as much as possible. It can all get very mathematical and computer-sciencable and things such as renderman are very good giving you all that opportunity.

Originally Posted by grrinc: May I ask a question? And excuse my ignorance here. But for years I have always wondered why there is a need for 'shader's' that are so complicated that a level of programing is needed. I wondered if it was some dark art and must admit to feeling a bit of a fool for asking.

Could someone give me a 'layman's' example of why such a system is needed?
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  01 January 2013
grrinc,

Basically, it's a question of power. Having it script based gives the user a huge amount of power, whereas a GUI tends to severely limit what's available to the user. That means Laymen like you and me won't be able to get much out of it without a PhD in RenderMan...

A lot of software does both now, however, allowing users to go beyond the GUI. I've never seen a RenderMan GUI, but it's already been noted that at least one exists. My only experience with the kind of things RenderMan users face is with PovRay and BMRT, and I've never been good with either because I'm just a layman (at least when it comes to rendering).
 
  01 January 2013
Thanks guys. That's a bit clearer for sure. I think.
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