Free Non-Commercial RenderMan FAQ
Learn how to use RenderMan
for non-commercial use.
General Questions about Non-Commercial RenderMan
1. What is Non-Commercial RenderMan?
Pixar's RenderMan is the premier professional rendering software used by talented creators and studios large and small, to generate the photorealistic visuals used in most visual effects and animated movies including all of Pixar's films. Additional insight into what RenderMan does can be found here. Non-Commercial RenderMan is exactly the same RenderMan software used across the production industry, the only restriction is Non-Commercial use.
2. Why should I use RenderMan?
Unlike other solutions, RenderMan is the product of a working production studio that remains the paramount innovator in modern CG animation and visual effects rendering. Today there are more licenses of RenderMan, generating more photorealistic pixels for movies than any other rendering solution by far. In choosing to use RenderMan, you are benefitting from the same expertise and production proven technology used by Pixar and most major visual effects studios, along with the research resources of the entire Walt Disney organization. There is no other rendering solution that can compare in depth, flexibility, and capability.
3. Can RenderMan be used on its own to create animation?
No. RenderMan itself is not animation software and requires scene data from compatible CG modeling and animation authoring software or other external sources to generate photorealistic images. RenderMan is most commonly used with such well known software solutions as Autodesk's Maya, Maxon's Cinema4D, Side Effects Houdini, and The Foundry's KATANA.
4. What skills do I need to use Non-Commercial RenderMan?
As professional rendering software at the leading edge of technical development, familiarity with general computer graphics modeling, animation, lighting, and rendering concepts is important to properly utilize RenderMan's capabilities. If you are not familiar with the process of rendering images, we recommend becoming familiar with one of the supported CG authoring solutions listed above first.
5. Is Non-Commercial RenderMan restricted in any way?
No. Non-Commercial RenderMan is functionally identical to the commercial version used by creative artists the world over, offering free and complete access to its capabilities. There are no limitations except that Non-Commercial RenderMan is node-locked and does not have a floating network license. Upon installation and acceptance of the EULA, Non-Commercial RenderMan should only thereafter be used for non-commercial purposes.
6. What learning materials are available for Non-Commercial RenderMan?
Full reference documentation is available on the RenderMan website at along with examples of various rendering challenges and their solutions. In addition, the new RenderMan community website is a powerful resource for all RenderMan users to share and swap information, assets, tips and tricks, along with a support forum for advice and help. Here you will also find video tutorials, material libraries, case studies, and workflow examples from both Pixar and the broader RenderMan community to help your learning.
Questions about compatibility with other authoring applications
7. What CG authoring solutions are compatible with RenderMan right now?
Currently Autodesk's Maya and The Foundry's Katana are directly supported by Pixar. Side Effects Houdini and Maxon's Cinema4D offer well established connectivity to RenderMan and are currently being updated.
8. What versions of Maya and Katana are supported?
RenderMan is compatible with versions 2013.5, 2014, and 2015 of Autodesk’s Maya, and with versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0 of The Foundry’s Katana.
9. What additional CG authoring solutions are compatible with Non-Commercial RenderMan?
A number of third-party developers are currently working on compatibility with popular mainstream authoring solutions for RenderMan, including Blender and Lightwave.
10. Is Maya LT compatible with Non-Commercial RenderMan?
No, due to plugin restrictions within Maya LT. RenderMan is supported by standard Maya or with free 30 day trial licenses of Maya available from Autodesk.
Questions about Non-Commercial Use
11. How does Pixar define "Non-Commercial" use?
Simply, any usage of RenderMan that does not generate direct profits. Examples of non-commercial usage include evaluations, personal projects, learning, student and academic use, experimentation and research.
12. If I use commercial RenderMan at work, can I use Non-Commercial RenderMan on my home machine?
Yes. You can use Non-Commercial RenderMan at home on your own projects or to test out ideas and techniques for work. However your home Non-Commercial RenderMan license(s) must not be used for generating final content for work related projects.
13. Can Non-Commercial RenderMan be used to create content by cultural, religious, or other 501c(3) non-profit organizations that generate revenue through entrance or member fees, service charges, subscriptions etc?
If a fee is charged to access content that is created by Non-Commercial RenderMan, then that usage falls into the category of commercial use. We appreciate there are borderline situations so please contact us at email@example.com if you require additional clarification.
14. Are there any profit earning exceptions to the "Non-Commercial" use rule?
Yes. Indirect revenue generating activities such as personal images or clips posted on YouTube or Vimeo that may result in advertising revenue are permitted. Please include a credit that your work was rendered with Pixar's RenderMan. If you are uncertain as to whether your requirement qualifies as non-commercial, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification.
15. Can I use Non-Commercial RenderMan as a development platform for commercial plugins and supporting tools?
Yes, Pixar encourages you to utilize Non-Commercial RenderMan as a development platform for tools and plug-ins that you can sell commercially to both Non-Commercial and Commercial RenderMan users.
16. What if I want to use Non-Commercial RenderMan for Commercial purposes?
Simply contact us at email@example.com, and we will set you up as a commercial user with the additional benefits of floating licensing, direct support and ongoing beta access. We can offer a number of attractive pricing solutions for your requirements.
Questions about RenderMan for Students
17. How will using RenderMan help me?
Knowledge of RenderMan is a key asset if you are interested in a career in visual effects, animation or the visual media. As the primary renderer used to create todays photorealistic pixels in feature films, Non-Commercial RenderMan makes it easy for you to access the production industries most sophisticated rendering technology for your creative experimentation.
18. Can I freely use RenderMan for my class work?
Yes. You are welcome to use Non-Commercial RenderMan on any class or personal project that is non-profit. Please include a credit that your work was rendered with Pixar's RenderMan.
19. Can I use Non-Commercial RenderMan for my showreel?
Yes. Please include a credit that your work was rendered with Pixar's RenderMan.
Questions about RenderMan for Schools & Universities
20. Can I obtain a floating license of Non-Commercial RenderMan for my School?
Yes. Because Non-Commercial RenderMan uses a node-locked license by default, please have your system administrator contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a floating license for your school campus network.
21. Are there any ongoing requirements for School/University/College use?
We simply request that RenderMan is used to support actively taught classes in computer graphics, animation, media, science, architecture, or any other course that has a need for advanced rendering capabilities.
22. Is there any certification for teaching Non-Commercial RenderMan?
Certification for RenderMan can be granted on a case by case basis. To qualify, evidence that RenderMan is being regularly taught to an accepted standard is required.
23. Can we use the Pixar Logo to promote our school?
You are welcome to use the specific Pixar's RenderMan logo if your school is teaching RenderMan and to use it with work produced by your school. The Pixar Studio (only) logo should not be used under any circumstance.
Questions about installation and platform compatibility
24. How many licenses of Non-Commercial RenderMan can I access?
Up to five Node-Locked licenses are provided free of charge for each RenderMan forum registration.
25. What is the process to access a Non-Commercial RenderMan license?
Simply visit http://renderman.pixar.com/view/non-commercial-renderman for instructions to connect to the download webpage from which you can access RenderMan. When you run the RenderMan Non-Commercial Installer, it will automatically request a node locked license connected to the machine the installer was executed on.
26. Can I copy Non-Commercial RenderMan to another machine once installed?
No you cannot copy Non-Commercial RenderMan to another machine once it is installed. Instead you will need to execute the RenderMan Non-Commercial installer on another machine, which can be done on up to 5 different machines.
27. Can I transfer my node-locked license to another machine?
No you cannot transfer your Node-Locked License to another machine. Instead you can execute the RenderMan Non-Commercial installer on another machine, which can be done on up to 5 different machines.
28. What if I need a large number of Non-Commercial RenderMan licenses?
Please contact email@example.com where we can help you with your needs.
29. Are floating licenses available?
Though floating licenses are available as a benefit of commercial RenderMan, only node-locked licenses are available for free Non-Commercial RenderMan.
30. What operating systems are supported?
Mac OS-X 10.9, 10.8, and 10.8, Window 8 and 7, and Linux RPM based distributions RHEL 6 and CentOS 6. Mac OS-X 10.10 and RHEL 7 are undergoing final testing.
31. Does Non-Commercial RenderMan support GPU's?
The current version of Non-Commercial RenderMan is a multi-threaded software application that does not use GPU's due to the current fluidity of graphics hardware and supporting software standards. However GPU's are an important aspect of the future direction of rendering that Pixar is currently researching, some of which has already demonstrated in public. As the technology matures for comprehensive production usage we will reveal more in future.
32. I've downloaded the RenderManNC installer, and installed RPS and RFM, however the plugin will not load in Maya. What should I do?
If you are working on a Windows platform, you will need to download the RenderManNC installer to your primary disk where your "Program Files" directory exists. Generally this is located on C:. If you install and run the RenderManNC installer from a different drive, then the pixar.license file might be installed on the wrong disk.
To correct, simply copy the pixar.license file from the wrong drive (example: D:\Program Files\Pixar\pixar.license) to the C: drive (example C:\Program Files\pixar.license) and restart RMS.
Alternatively, if easier, you can uninstall the RenderManNC installer, re-download to your primary drive, and run the installer again. This will retrieve a new license and put it in the correct location.
33. When I re-run the NCR Installer on OS X and it says “Could not save license file to /Applications/Pixar/pixar.license The file could not be opened” ... what happened?
Change the permission of the existing pixar.license file so the RenderManNCInstaller application can write to it. Open the Pixar folder in the Applications folder. Select the existing pixar.license, on the file menu choose Get Info. Under the permissions section change the permissions so “everyone” can read and write to that file. Close the Get Info dialog, re-run the RenderManNCInstaller app
34. When I re-run the NCR installer on OS X the License Application comes up and asks for my forum login, password and a serial number, am I required to fill that out?
35. Who can help with installation problems for Non-Commercial RenderMan?
Installation problems can be posted on the Non-Commercial RenderMan forum here renderman.pixar.com/forum
Other frequently asked questions
36. Why is Pixar making RenderMan free for Non-Commercial use?
Non-Commercial RenderMan is a strategic and long-term commitment by Disney / Pixar to the advancement and dissemination of the production industry's most advanced rendering technology and the interchange of assets in common formats. First, RenderMan going forwards will be the conduit through which applicable rendering and image processing technologies developed within Disney / Pixar research will be channeled into the public domain to establish a common platform for production, research and development, trials and experimentation. Second, it is Pixar's experience that limitations in software licensing have become an impediment to the growth of the production industry, and that universal access and a set of common standards and practices can only stimulate further advances. Third, existing trial and evaluation methods of providing access through watermarked or time-expiration licenses are profoundly unsatisfying for a proper evaluation. The resources and technology now being invested in RenderMan are of superior quality unduplicated anywhere, and will continue to anticipate the needs of film production imagery as Pixar has over the past 25-years. Providing RenderMan for free for non-commercial use represents the commitment of Disney / Pixar to RenderMan as the film industries long-term rendering standard.
37. Where can I find more information about RenderMan?
For questions related to RenderMan, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our specialists will help you learn more about Pixar's RenderMan.