pixar renderman or 3delight


ive just switched over from 3ds max to maya. i want to start learning renderman i have noticed that there are two variances of renderman, pixar’s and 3delight.
Has anyone tested both of these?
what are the differences between pixars and 3deligt’s render engine, what is one suited for?

i cant seem to find much documents,tutorials or support for 3delight.


You forgot AIR, RenderDotC, Pixie & Aqsis. And if you wanted to be precise, there is also jrMan, Angel and a bunch of other more or less complete RenderMan (RMan) compliant renderers which can be used with the free Liquid exporter, from Maya.

3Delight gives you a free commercial (!) license for 2 cores. Or you can use it on unlimited cores in demo mode (renders a watermark into the image).

As for learning, it doesn’t matter. All but for a tiny percentage, that will not matter to a beginner anyway, most of the above renderers are identical. With 3Delight & PRMan being closest to each other in features. AIR is close but ‘different’ and Pixie is closest as far as open source software goes.



All of the Renderman-compliant renderers have pros & cons… (usually price vs. polish vs. integration). There’s no one right answer… but honestly to get your hands really dirty with the RSL/RIB workflow, grab the demo of Renderman for Maya as well as the 2-node free version of 3Delight.

The real power behind all of those renderers comes in the ability to programmatically manipulate RSL (the shader language) and RIB (scene files) before they’re written… if you’re really interested in learning the ropes, and have a technical bent, go for it.

The low-end version of Renderman for Maya is really meant to be a turnkey click render kinda deal. There’s minimal places where you can really hook into the real power underneath it (only really via brickmaps and compiling your own RSL).

3DL allows you to get your hands dirty with all facets (and it’s a hell of a learning curve), but the Maya integration isn’t as slick (it’s solid, but the workflow is kinda bolted on). 3DL also approximates a good amount of Mental Ray shaders for you… with Renderman if you want skin or arch mats, you’re going to be compiling someone else’s code at first or reverse engineering the 3DL shaders (that’s also the case with Renderman Studio/RFM Pro).

Anyhow, I’d say get both, but if you’re technically savvy and can code a little, focus on 3DL just to learn how RIB/RSL works under the hood. If you just want a different renderer to drop in with a different look than Maya Software/MR, focus on RFM.

Once you get used to the workflow and how each works within Maya, make up your own mind based on your taste. There’s no right answer :slight_smile:

I’ve got Renderman Studio as well as 3DL, personally, and am digging into both of them pretty hard to get a grip on feature pipeline shading/lighting currently.



Also, you can take a look at the forums at pixar and 3delight sites, read about common issues, implementation of something specific, rants, meet the trolls, etc.

Personally, I really like the support of the guys at dna. I like the frequent updates and issues solved fast. They even have a sense of humor.



im going to tackle RSL pretty soon here, im looking at rmfm or 3delight. is there a big difference when writing shaders? i know they compile to different extensions. im buying The Renderman Shading Langauge book to get me started.


thanks guys for your feedback
im more interested in the artistry side of things than the coding. i’ll have a look at both.

is 3delight better suited for raytracing than prman?


I would suggest you go for Renderman for Maya …
It is realy great integrated in verion 3 (3Delight is not even close to that, also the inteface is more for a TD than a artist) and you get with the new version Raytracing in the same speed or faster as mentalray… in most cases :slight_smile:


download the 3Delight and Prman Demo and make some testss… :wink:


3Delight has always been a hybrid renderer, from the beginning of its development. Pixar only popped ray-tarcing functionality on PRMan much later (4-5 years after DNA had it).
Pixar caught up heaps recently but imho they are still 2 odd years of R&D behind 3Delight, when it comes to raw ray-tracing speed & practical memory footprints; particularly on complex scenes with heavy geometry.

Just for example, on a recent feature film production (all PRMan), we still had to use 3Delight to bake the displacement maps (ray tracing from low res subdivision surfaces into high res displaced subdisivision surfaces made in zBrush, to get the difference as a float grayscale map). The bottom line was the PRMan was not only slower but also went past the 16GBs of memory that our boxes (64 bit Linux) where equipped with. 3Delight was almost twice as fast and stayed well below 10GB.

Problem is that most people, when comparing the speed & memory footprints of such renderers, don’t really test with scenes that mirror real world production circumstances.
And even then, you need to look at & understand the knobs each renderer has for tuning its algorithms and dial them to get good results. 3Delight & PRMan use quite different ray-tracing engines.



what version you used on hellboy 2 for the raytracing - i did a test myself and it looks
prman did a big jump when it comes on raytracing rfm 3.0 <> 3dl 8.5.13 (no i didnt test a scene with 16gig mem footprint) it looks they are on the same speed now


I doubt that PRMan is on par with 3Delight in terms of ray-traced displacements (which is what we needed to use in the case at hand).
The other thing was memory used by threads. With PRMan, the renderer felt more like a multi-proc renderer than a multi-threaded one (memory almost increased linearly with number of threads). I heard PRMan has definitey improved heaps in that area (maybe my bitching to Pixar was part of it, there’s a thread in the Pixar forums were I posted numbers of PRMan vs 3Delight). :slight_smile:

But as I have access to the latest PRMan again, due to one of my current clients, which involves some heavily ray-traced stuff, I will run some tests again and post some more “current” results here. :wink:



I think Pre Prman 14 threads weren’t sharing memory while raytracing.

Btw Mauritius, do you know if there is a way for an automatic conversion for the HDR Images, I was thinking about doing a 3delight Template for sIBL_GUI, but it seems to me that it can’t directly handle the .HDR and need some custom file format ( .tdl or something like that ).

I have checked a bit on DNA forum and found that thread : http://www.3delight.com/en/modules/PunBB/viewtopic.php?id=926

Let me know if it’s a good approach or if I’m wrong and if there is a recommended workflow for IBL Lighting :slight_smile:



thanks Mauritius you certainly know what your talking about:cool:, i have found 3Delight abit harder to learn as i havent found much tutorials material out there. do you know any good sites, tutorials for 3Delight? im not interested in the coding side as much just the artistry.


I lean towards the new 64bit Renderman for Maya. At $1000 per node its more affordable to get into than 3delight. Its not as powerful as renderman studio, but for most small projects (less than 5 people working on it) renderman for maya is fine.

I dont always agree with Mauritius. But that point does go to 3Delight. Using tracedepth to raytrace displacement in renderman blows. Its not a deal breaker but it is a con.

In the end there is only one thing that really matters. What does/will your current/future employer use? We all have our favorite softwares, but in the end, its best to be practical.

If your going solo and trying to make money contract, VRay is probably a better price/benefit ratio.


My post might be a bit of OT.
As a one man band (who also doesn’t know how to code Renderman-compliant shader), I always have some concerns as approaching to RMFM or 3Delight for Maya because of the limitation of using default Maya shaders. I am wondering how can one achieve SSS effect and energy-conserving for hard-surface (like the mia_material in mental ray) with either RMFM or 3Delight for Maya. (I’ve heard 3Delight will support architect material of some form, but not sure.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am not here to compare which renderer is better, and I believe amazing works have been done through default Maya shaders. I just really want to learn one of the Renderman-compliant renderer and look for advise to clear out concerns.


Subsurface effects are super easy in RFM, you just add an attribute to a Blinn and learn how to work with albedos instead of subdermal/epidermal like you’re probably used to. It’s likely as easy to setup in 3DL.

Energy conserving materials on the other hand… well, there’s an architectural materials port for 3DL (source code available so you can compile it for RFM if you feel the urge) and it’s ok. There are some issues with glossy speculars (they don’t look right and they blow out), but it’s really a philosophical thing why that might not be the best approach to take when dealing with Renderman renderers.

In general once you start courting physical accuracy in a shader, you pretty much switch on raytracing full-time. PRMan renderers can and do raytrace very well, but their strength lies in rendering 90% of your frame via REYES in blistering time.

If you’re looking for energy conserving (doing archviz or product prototyping) then MR or VRay are probably a better bet, particularly as a one-man shop. You’ll quite likely need to learn to code RSL yourself to get results as good as other packages’ physical shaders.

Just my opinion,



a one man, or even a small 5 man shop won’t benefit much with Renderman if you don’t know the underlying architecture and can write code. While prMan is easier to use now moreso than ever before, its power is underneath the hood. I don’t think it would be a sound investment to spend a lot of time learning how to code shaders for such a small shop. However, if you have plans one day of working at a larger studio where obviously Renderman will be used, and you want to be the shader bitch, start learning it on the side.

Don’t screw yourself out of clients or profits by trying to learn it on the job, or you may be out of a job. :slight_smile:


is there a resource of complied shaders for prman or 3delight? like for mental ray and vray which have a online library of shaders


Not really, no, but it’s really easy to compile your own shaders and there’s a fair amount of source code out there (both 3DL and RFM have shader sourcecode you can pick apart within them).

I’m beginning to understand that up until very, very recently PRMan/3DL and shading within them was pretty much the domain of high-end effects houses and universities. Most of the examples you’ll find on the net are academic in nature… here’s how to do an Oran Nayer diffuse layer, here’s how to do a Cook-Torrance specular, here’s how to do Worley noise etc, and not really geared to artists, per-se… or even technical artists.

The products are reaching a different audience now.

Now that tech artists / artists / students are finding Renderman/3DL more accessible and folks are getting fed up with Maya’s MR implementation, you’re starting to see more info come out that’s geared more toward the practical art side of things – instead of geared toward shader programmers and pipeline developers.

Highend3D used to have a few Renderman shaders, although most of them were saved as Slim templates, and they all mysteriously vanished now that Highend became CreativeC®ash. If you’re quick you should be able to still grab them on the highendnet.com – which I think is a mirror of highend3d with someone else’s ads. Anyhow, they’re still there for the time being :slight_smile:

Fundza.com and Renderman.org are pretty good resources for how to get your hands dirty with shader writing, and the Renderman eval and 3DL forums are also a good place to look for info as well.



You could write a MEL hook that calls 3Delight’s tdlmake. This creates mip-mapped TIFF files (the extension .tdl is by no means mandatory, you can call them .tif/.tiff, but it helps knowing if a texture has been mip-mapped). You can check that yourself by opening any .tdl in Photoshop (File->Open As…->Tiff).

Pixar uses more or less the same format. Howbeit, they store a few tags and sometimes PRMan bitches if these are missing. This means you can go from a PRMan pipeline to a 3Delight-based one w/o touching an texture/environment maps (depth shadow maps work too, only deep shadows need conversion/re-rendering).
The reverse is not true. This might have to do with the fact that no company ever went from 3Delight to PRMan, only the other way. :wink:

As for HDRs: tdlmake eats HDRs w/o a problem. They can also be in lightprobe or fisheye format. They can be converted to a latitude-longitude or cube-face environment map.