RenderMan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about RenderMan version 26 

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  • What’s new with RenderMan®?

    RenderMan 26 is the latest version of Pixar's rendering software, which includes many new features and improvements, including a state-of-the-art interactive Denoiser powered by machine learning. RenderMan XPU has been significantly upgraded to support many new features. RenderMan Stylized Looks has been overhauled with advancements to toon shading, animated linework, and a major UI redesign.

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  • What is the new Interactive Denoiser in RenderMan 26?

    The new interactive denoiser in RenderMan 26 delivers fast feedback for production scenes, featuring innovative technology driven by machine learning. This allows for even higher quality images to be produced with less rendering time, making it an incredibly valuable tool for any artist or production team.

  • Which DCCs is the interactive denoiser available for?

    At launch, the new interactive denoiser in RenderMan 26 is available for both Katana and Blender. Subsequent DCCs will be supported at a later announced date. The Denoiser is only supported by RIS, and not available for XPU or Stylized Looks.

  • What is RenderMan XPU™?

    RenderMan XPU is a CPU + GPU hybrid renderer that lives alongside RenderMan RIS. It uses both the CPU and GPU together to give artists faster renders. RenderMan XPU brings greater interactivity to artists. Artists will be able to more quickly iterate and see their results with RenderMan XPU, resulting in both increased creativity as they explore possibilities, as well as greater productivity because they won’t be waiting as long for renders to complete. While RenderMan XPU is not the same as RenderMan RIS, the pictures that you can render with XPU are representative of what you can render with RIS.

  • How can I evaluate RenderMan XPU™?

    RenderMan XPU is included in Non-Commercial RenderMan, and that is available for download today. Please note XPU has some limitations, but is useful for look development and some other applications. Larger commercial studios are encouraged to contact RenderMan Sales to request an official evaluation.

  • To what extent can I write customizations for RenderMan XPU™?

    XPU supports custom OSL patterns in the same way that RIS does. XPU does not currently support customization beyond OSL patterns. We are evaluating how we can expose other features of XPU with APIs so that in the future you can customize it in similar ways to RIS. A few of our closest partners will be helping us in this process.

  • What kind of GPU should I have for RenderMan XPU™?

    XPU only supports NVIDIA graphics cards on Linux and Windows. You must have a Pascal class card or above and be using a recent driver. Because GPUs are more memory constrained than CPUs, we recommend that given the option, you invest in a card with as much memory as possible. If you need to render a scene that goes beyond the memory capabilities of your graphics card, XPU can also render exclusively using your CPU, where memory resources are generally much higher.

  • What are the improvements to artist tools integration in RenderMan 26?

    RenderMan 26 has continued to improve integration with popular 3D content creation tools, such as Autodesk's Maya®, Blender®, Foundry's KATANA®, including major updates for SideFX’s Houdini® and Solaris.

  • What are RenderMan Stylized Looks and how do they work?

    RenderMan Stylized Looks is a framework for creating looks that go beyond the photorealism that RenderMan is known for. RenderMan has and will continue to be a renderer that is built on the notion that creative flexibility is critical to giving artists the power they need to tell a variety of stories, no matter what the art direction. RenderMan Stylized Looks allow artists to more easily create non-photorealistic renders, such as creating animatable pen and ink illustrations or creating toon shading. Each RenderMan integration for a 3D application provides features for easily adding the shading and render setup controls needed to create Stylized Looks.

  • What are the updates to the Stylized Looks feature in RenderMan 25?

    RenderMan 25's Stylized Looks receives various enhancements to give artists more control. Some of the highlights include an overhauled toon shading system with more creative controls, illustrative lighting with more texture presets for hatching & watercolor, distortion for wavy lines, and a cleaner artist-friendly user experience.

  • How can RenderMan 26 benefit artists?

    RenderMan 26's new features and improvements provide artists with more tools and flexibility to create high-quality and photorealistic images and animations. Enhanced interactivity and faster feedback help artists make quicker decisions, and improved look development and Stylized Looks features allow for more creative control over the final output. The integration improvements with popular 3D content creation tools also make it easier for artists to work with RenderMan in their preferred workflow.

  • Does RenderMan retain its traditional customizability?

    Yes. RenderMan offers a complete set of ready to use rendering and artist tools, but it also retains its storied ability to be profoundly customized by experts who want to develop unique looks or unique pipelines around the RenderMan core. A fundamental aspect of the RIS architecture is the ability to replace components or even entire renderer subsystems with custom plug-ins or scriptable elements, such as for BxDFs, Patterns, Projections, Integrators, Light Path Expressions, and more. All of the traditional aspects of custom geometric proceduralism are still supported as well, such as programmatic generation of particles, hair, or foliage.

  • Are there different versions of RenderMan for different studios?

    No. RenderMan exists in one standard version for everyone and the technology that Pixar develops for RenderMan has always been delivered to the entire RenderMan community through the productization efforts of the RenderMan team. It is RenderMan’s famous underlying flexibility that allows individual studios to customize the renderer via their own shaders, plug-ins, and other pipeline tools.

Product Questions

  • What 3D applications does RenderMan support?

    Pixar provides artist-friendly and deeply integrated RenderMan interface plug-ins for Autodesk's Maya®, The Foundry's KATANA®, SideFX’s Houdini®, and Blender®. For production pipelines, the Universal Scene Description (USD) distribution ships with RenderMan’s Hydra Render Delegate. Please refer to for details of version compatibility for each new release.

  • What about support for other applications like Cinema4D® or Autodesk 3ds Max®?

    We track the applications that are most important to productions at Pixar, ILM, and our community of commercial customer studios, and we frequently evaluate additional deep integrations within other Digital Content Creation applications. We understand the power and capabilities of applications such as Cinema4D and 3ds Max, and the strong interest in them. Please contact us at and we can help you find the best solution for your requirements.

  • Is Tractor included in the latest version of RenderMan?

    Yes. New purchases of RenderMan include a matching number of Tractor licenses. Tractor is also available separately at $100 per license.

  • How closely does the RenderMan team work with Pixar’s USD team?

    Pixar’s pipeline is built on two inhouse technologies, RenderMan and USD (Universal Scene Description). Because of this, both teams work closely together to ensure close integration, and collaborate on projects, such as shipping RenderMan’s Hydra Render Delegate with USD.

Pricing FAQ

  • What is the price of RenderMan?

    RenderMan costs $595 per license, providing access to either the artist interface or the batch renderer. For larger requirements over 50 licenses, and especially over 250 licenses, attractive studio pricing and payment packages are available. Usage based cloud licensing is available through various cloud compute vendors separately. Rentals and special short-term burst capacity options are also available.

  • Is maintenance on RenderMan available and what does it cover?

    Yes. Maintenance is $250 per RenderMan license for commercial users and includes full support and upgrades throughout the renewable 1-year term of the agreement.

  • Are RenderMan subscription licenses available?

    Several licensing models are available. Traditional perpetual licenses are what many studios continue to choose. These licenses allow you to run the version of RenderMan available at purchase time for as long as you like, for an up-front purchase price. By purchasing recurring annual maintenance for those initial licenses, they can be upgraded to new major releases immediately as they become available. License rentals provide access to the current release for a short term, then the licenses expire. For studios needing a large number of licenses, RenderMan is also available in fixed-term bundles with annual billing on an attractive discount schedule.

  • Are RenderMan licenses floating or node-locked?

    All commercial RenderMan licenses are available as floating, providing the flexibility to deploy RenderMan anywhere on your network. However, node locked licenses are available if required.

Non-Commercial Licensing FAQ

  • When is the free Non-Commercial RenderMan available?

    The free Non-Commercial version of RenderMan has been updated to version 26 and is currently available for download.

  • Is RenderMan XPU now available in Non-Commercial RenderMan?

    Yes, XPU is now available in Non-Commercial RenderMan. This means that users who do not have access to a commercial license of RenderMan can now take advantage of XPU's capabilities for their personal or non-commercial projects.

  • Can I download previous version of Non-Commercial RenderMan?

    No, Non-Commercial RenderMan downloads are updated to the latest available version in order to keep the research community up to date, simplify community support, and to ensure that tool developers have a consistent target platform. Access to previous versions of RenderMan is available to all commercial customers.

  • How does Pixar define “non-commercial” use?

    Simply any usage of RenderMan that does not involve direct commercial use to generate profits. Example non-commercial use-cases include evaluations, personal learning and familiarization, student usage, any type of experimentation, research, and the development of tools and plug-ins that complement RenderMan. Educational content that generates indirect revenue through video platforms such as Youtube or Vimeo are also considered non-commercial.

  • Can I use RenderMan Stylized Looks with the free non-commercial RenderMan?

    No. RenderMan Stylized Looks is only available to commercial license holders or to educational institutions.

  • Is the free non-commercial RenderMan restricted in any other way?

    No. There is only one RenderMan and the free non-commercial RenderMan is exactly the same as the commercial version except for access to Stylized Looks. Beyond that, there are no watermarks. Upon acceptance of the EULA at installation, the software must only be used for non-commercial purposes. Technical support for Non-Commercial RenderMan is supplied by the active and highly technical community itself.

  • Is Non-Commercial RenderMan appropriate for Educational Institutions?

    Educational Institutions have access to floating license grants which include the full suite of RenderMan tools, including Stylized Looks. In general, Non-Commercial RenderMan is intended for individual use. For classroom deployment or other educational use cases, please contact to discuss floating license grants.

The Future Of RenderMan

  • What is the relationship between RenderMan and other R&D groups within Disney?

    There are a number of research initiatives within the Disney Studio organization including Pixar, Disney feature Animation, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney Research in Zurich, and others. Each of these groups is separate and pursue different approaches to rendering and solving production problems in different ways. No other rendering R&D effort can compare with the resources and depth of experience embodied in the Disney organization and its decades of experience defining the state of the art in animation and film rendering. RenderMan is the conduit through which tools and techniques that derive from these R&D efforts are channeled into the public domain, most recently with ILM contributing MaterialX Lama to RenderMan. Pixar and these other Disney groups describe their significant contributions regularly at commercial and technical research venues around the world.

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