March 28, 2018
Max Liani, Senior Lead Engineer at Pixar, will present a RenderMan XPU project update during GTC 2018 in San Jose. Max will discuss the project goals and technical challenges, and recent results. RenderMan XPU is in active development, targeting release following the delivery of RenderMan 22. The specific release schedule for RenderMan XPU has not yet been announced.
The RenderMan XPU project is addressing the challenge of rendering Pixar-scale production assets on systems with a mix of CPU and GPU capabilities. From a single set of assets, RenderMan XPU produces film-quality renderings by seamlessly using all available compute cores concurrently. RenderMan XPU is a single renderer that can operate on a variety of systems, from render farm machines with mid-range CPUs only all the way up to workstations or servers having many-core CPUs and multiple extreme GPUs.
Scene Complexity & Artist Dexterity
Demands on artists and tools continue to evolve, and scene complexity grows. Film, television, and other formats call for more realism as well as more fantastic fictional realms. With tighter production schedules, maximizing artist productivity is essential. Artists require both greater interactivity and finer grained control when dealing with huge, high quality assets. Artists are also more productive when render previews in their tools accurately reflect the look of the final frames coming off the farm.
In this context, we present an update on RenderMan XPU. The mission of XPU is to automatically leverage available CPU and GPU compute power to provide artists with optimum performance and flexibility on production scenes, all from within the art tools that they are already using. RenderMan XPU is in active development at Pixar, and while an external release date has not yet been set, it will be available sometime after the commercial release of RenderMan 22 – which itself delivers important new interactive capabilities.
RenderMan Today: Versatility at Scale
At Pixar, each of our productions is more complex than the last, with unique technical innovations required to allow our artists to create the richness and detail that define each of our films. Our artists demand speed and flexibility -- requiring the ability to tweak lighting and shading at the very last moment to enhance an image in service of the story and the Director's vision. Many studios are familiar with these demanding trends.
Today it is common in VFX and animation to have to deal with over-modeled geometry, huge numbers of textures, sprawling shading networks, and massive datasets with large numbers of lights. Every part of the scene must be editable so artists can enhance a shot at any time up to final render, all in service of enhancing the story.