RenderMan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about RenderMan version 23 

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  • What’s new with RenderMan?

    RenderMan version 23 delivers significant improvements to production pipelines with robust USD support, while also offering new features for look development workflows. A key aspect of RenderMan version 23 is support for the new Houdini 18 native USD “Solaris” workflows, enabled by RenderMan’s USD Hydra delegate. These new tools are the result of close collaboration between SideFX and Pixar’s RenderMan & USD teams.

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  • How can USD improve my pipeline?

    RenderMan and USD are both technologies developed at Pixar Animation Studios to address the challenges of feature film production. In version 23 Renderman delivers the next generation of integration between these tools to the broader community. In production environments using multiple applications (such as Maya, Katana, and Houdini), USD can enable a new level of reliable, efficient, flexible collaboration, including sharing of animated geometry, materials, and lights. Complex scenes constructed from USD assets need not be expanded entirely in your front-end application, meaning that productions can scale larger on existing tooling. Features such as lightweight conditional edits and super fast variation management and instance generation help artists respond creatively to increasing production demands. With USD support planned or released from vendors like SideFX, Autodesk, Foundry, and Nvidia, this new technology will play an increasingly important role in production pipelines, and RenderMan’s support for USD is a critical part of future studio roadmaps across the industry.

  • How does version 23 improve artist workflows?

    RenderMan 23 extends support for interactive “always on” rendering at more stages of the pipeline, improving on the groundwork set by version 22. New and enhanced interactive rendering features allow artists to make better choices without restarting renders, improving productivity in all stages of the pipeline, throughout modeling, grooming, layout, animation, shading, lighting, and into pro-level controls on cameras, frame resolutions, LPEs, and more.

  • 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, LightPathExpressions, 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. This customizability is more robust than ever thanks to our support and commitment to Pixar’s USD and its deep pipeline toolset.

  • Will the new APIs that work with the new system architecture be published?

    We are planning to publish the new APIs at a later date. They will not be published with RenderMan version 23. We are keeping them private so that we can iterate on them to make sure they are properly structured and fully featured before we release them publicly in a subsequent version of RenderMan. A few of our closest partners will be helping us in this process.

  • 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, deeply integrated RenderMan interface plug-ins for Autodesk's Maya®, The Foundry's KATANA®, and Side Effect’s Houdini®.  Please refer to our tech-specs page for details of version compatibility for each new release.

  • What about support for other applications like Cinema4D and Blender?

    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. An important aspect of RenderMan version 22 has been re-engineering our live rendering interfaces specifically to allow easier, faster, and better integrations into new artist tools. We understand the power and capabilities of applications such as Cinema4D and Blender, and the strong interest in them, particularly from the Non-Commercial RenderMan community. We are pursuing integrations for these applications, and others, sometimes through third parties, as commercial priorities allow. Please contact us at rendermansales@pixar.com 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.


The Future Of RenderMan




  • What is RenderMan XPU, how does it use GPU hardware?

    Pixar has been using and developing various special purpose GPU renderers internally for several years. Building on that experience, the experimental RenderMan XPU project is a flexible and modern approach to combining CPU+GPU computations for faster rendering when powerful GPU processors are available – though it can always fully render with the CPU only if necessary. Development of this exciting internal project is ongoing, and achieving significant milestones, but no external release date has been set.

  • What is the roadmap for USD and RenderMan?

    Inside Pixar, the RenderMan and USD teams work closely with each other, both on studio filmmaking projects as well as on crafting useful next-generation pipeline tools for the animation and VFX communities. Both teams also draw significant inspiration and feedback from those communities, and are committed to making the tools work well together in many contexts.  RenderMan version 23 is a major evolution in this ongoing development and exemplifies our commitment to active USD support.

  • 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, Walt Disney Feature Animation (WDAS), Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney Research in Zurich, and others. Each of these groups is separate so they 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 this R&D effort will be channeled into the public domain. Pixar and these other Disney groups describe their significant contributions regularly at commercial and technical research venues around the world.



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 25 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




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