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Check out RenderMan in Action
RenderMan is advanced technology for shading, lighting, and rendering. RenderMan is not an animation or modeling package.
RenderMan can be plugged into one of the following tools, Maya, Houdini, Katana, or Cinema4D. If you use one of those packages you can try RenderMan. You can also use RenderMan if you have your own custom tool(s) for generating renderable 3D assets (RIB) for purposes such as scientific visualization.
RenderMan by itself does not have a user interface or GUI.
Availability? Fall 2014
Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2014. You will be notified at that time.