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3D Renderman FAQ

This is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for the
comp.graphics.rendering.renderman newsgroup.  Please review this FAQ
before posting questions to c.g.r.r.

You can find translations of this FAQ in the following places:
        Russian - http://www.dream.com.ua/cgrr_faq.html
	Japanese - http://www.gimlay.org/~andoh/cg/faq/renderman.html

Contents: (* indicates changes since last time)

  Q: Where can I get translations of this FAQ into other languages?
  Q: What is the charter for comp.graphics.rendering.renderman?
  Q: What other newsgroups have closely related material?
  Q: Where is comp.graphics.rendering.renderman archived?
General RI Questions:
  Q: What is "RenderMan"?
  Q: Where can I find documentation on the RenderMan Interface?
  Q: What's the difference between the procedural interface and RIB?
  Q: What features are required in the RenderMan Interface?  What features
     are optional?
  Q: What do I have to do in order to call my software "RenderMan compliant"?
* Q: What implementations of the RenderMan standard are available?
  Q: Is PRMan a ray tracer? / How can PRMan do reflections if it's not
     a ray tracer? / Was a ray tracer used for reflections in Toy Story?
     How about A Bug's Life?  How about Toy Story 2?
  Q: Is there a Macintosh/OS X/Be/Other port of BMRT?  In the works?
     Will the author of BMRT let me do the port to Mac/OS X/Be/Other?
  Q: How can I make objects cast semi-transparent shadows in BMRT?
     When I try, the shadows look fully opaque.
  Q: What alternate bindings exist to support the RenderMan Interface?
* Q: What front ends (modelers, etc) support the RenderMan Interface?
  Q: What other net resources exist which are related to RenderMan?
  Q: Where can I get the Pixar videos?
  Q: What is the correct capitalization of "Pixar"?

	RI = RenderMan Interface, often refers to the spec document.
	RC = _The RenderMan Companion_ by Steve Upstill.
	SL = Shading Language.
	PRMan = Pixar's PhotoRealistic RenderMan product
	BMRT = Blue Moon Rendering Tools
	ARMan = _Advanced RenderMan: Creating CGI for Motion Pictures_,
		by Tony Apodaca and Larry Gritz.


Q: Where can I get translations of this FAQ into other languages?
Russian - http://www.dream.com.ua/cgrr_faq.html
Japanese - http://www.nk-exa.co.jp/~andoh/cg/faq/renderman.html

Q: What is the charter for comp.graphics.rendering.renderman?

   comp.graphics.rendering.renderman is an unmoderated newsgroup
intended for the discussion of the RenderMan standard (e.g.
definition, semantics, usage, tips), the RenderMan Shading Language
(e.g. posted shaders, questions, tips), particular RenderMan
implementations, software that uses the RenderMan interface (e.g.
RIB-producing modelers, third party shaders), and comparisons,
comments and questions about RenderMan in general.

   This group is NOT intended for the distribution of images or RIB
files.  Large data or binary files should be uploaded to appropriate
FTP or web sites and announced on the newsgroup, but not posted

Q: What other newsgroups have closely related material?

    comp.graphics.animation		: computer animation
    comp.graphics.algorithms		: algorithms for graphics
    comp.graphics.rendering.raytracing	: the technique of ray tracing
    comp.graphics.visualization		: visualizing scientific data
    comp.sys.next.programmer		: programming NEXTSTEP
    alt.movies.visual-effects		: discussion of movie effects
    sci.image.processing		: technicalities of image processing
    alt.graphics.pixutils		: pixel and image utilities

The FAQ's for these groups (and most others) can be found at

Q: Where is comp.graphics.renderman archived?

Try http://groups.google.com

Q: What is "RenderMan"?

Here's the most brief explanation I could come up with:

    According to RI (3.1 spec, p. 3): "The RenderMan Interface is a
standard interface between modeling programs and rendering programs
capable of producing photorealistic quality images."

    RenderMan is in many respects similar to PostScript, but for 3D
primitives.  The goal is to provide a standard mechanism for modeling
and animation software to send data to rendering systems in a device-
independent way, and with minimal regard to the actual rendering
algorithms being used.  A particular RenderMan implementation may use
scanline methods (z-buffer, REYES), ray tracing, radiosity, or other

    An important aspect of the RenderMan Interface is the Shading
Language (SL).  SL breaks the restrictive paradigm of surfaces being
described by a small number of parameters (Ka, Kd, Ks, etc.).  SL
allows the user to write her own arbitrarily complex descriptions of
how lighting and shading should be computed.

Q: Where can I find documentation on the RenderMan Interface?

    The book _Advanced RenderMan: Creating CGI for Motion Pictures_ by
Tony Apodaca and Larry Gritz (Morgan-Kaufmann, 1999) is quite
comprehensive and is *the* bible for RenderMan use these days.
There's also web materials available from http://www.mkp.com/renderman
You can order it from http://www.mkp.com or also from your favorite
online (or brick-and-mortar) book store.

    The official RenderMan Interface specification (now at release
3.2) is surprisingly readable for a standard document, but not in any
way a tutorial.  A must for any serious RenderMan user, it's available
online at Pixar's web site:

    _The RenderMan Companion: A Programmer's Guide to Realistic
Computer Graphics_, by Steve Upstill (Addison-Wesley, 1989, ISBN
0-201-50868-0) is an excellent introduction to the procedural API and
the Shading Language.  Unfortunately, it doesn't address RIB at all,
and the SL section is rather naive -- no antialiasing, relatively
simple shaders, etc.  The next step for the advanced user is 
the Siggraph '98 course notes, described below.

    If you're interested in SL, or procedural shading in general,
check out _Textures and Modeling: A Procedural Approach_, by Ebert,
Musgrave, Peachey, Perlin, and Worley (Academic Press, 1994, ISBN
0-12-228760-6).  The second edition was released in 1998, and contains
updates and new material.  The book web site is 

    There are several good course notes from courses taught at
SIGGRAPH conferences:
  Siggraph '90 course 18 - The RenderMan Interface & Shading Language
  Siggraph '92 course 21 - Writing RenderMan Shaders
  Siggraph '95 course 4 - Using RenderMan for Animation Production
  Siggraph '98 Course #11 - Advanced RenderMan: Beyond the Companion
  Siggraph '99 Course #25 - (repeat with revisions of the '98 course)
  Siggraph '00 Course #40 - Advanced RenderMan 2: RI_INFINITY and Beyond
  Siggraph '01 Course #48 - Advanced RenderMan 3: Render Harder
  Siggraph '02 Course #16 - RenderMan in Production
Many of these are available downloadable in PDF form at

    Here are some other technical papers that discuss either the
RenderMan Interface or some of the technologies behind its

    Cook, Carpenter, and Catmull. "The Reyes Image Rendering Architecture",
	Computer Graphics 21(4):95-102, 1987.  (Describes the rendering
	method that prman uses.)

    Gritz, Larry, and J.K. Hahn.  "BMRT: A Global Illumination
	Implementation of the RenderMan Standard", _Journal of Graphics
	Tools_, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 29-47, 1996.

    Hanrahan and Lawson. "A Language for Shading and Lighting Calculations",
	Computer Graphics 24(4):289-298, August 1990.  (Describes SL.)

    Reeves, Salesin, and Cook. "Rendering antialiased shadows with
	depth maps", Computer Graphics 21(4):283-291, July 1987. (Describes
	the methods that prman uses to compute shadows.)

    Slusallek, Pflaum, and Seidel. "Implementing RenderMan--Practice,
	Problems and Enhancements."  Proceedings of Eurographics '94.
	(Describes their implementation.)

Q: What's the difference between the procedural interface and RIB?

   Two official bindings exist for the RenderMan Interface.  The first
is a procedural API, i.e. a collection of library routines callable
from an ANSI C program.  Those functions all start with Ri, for
example RiBegin().  The procedural API is explained in great detail in
_RC_ and in the RI standard document.

   The second binding is called RenderMan Interface Bytestream (RIB).
RIB is an ASCII (or binary) metafile format.  In general, there is a
one-to-one correspondence between the API calls and their equivalent
RIB directives.  RIB is useful for archival and later rendering,
rendering over a network, and hacking scenes by hand.  RIB is
unfortunately not documented in _RC_, but is exhaustively detailed in

   The usual way that RenderMan is used is for a program (modeler) to
make the procedural API calls.  The program is linked to a library
which, for each API call, outputs the corresponding RIB to a file.
That archived RIB can later be sent to a standalone renderer which
inputs the RIB and outputs rendered images.

Q: What features are required by the RI?  What is optional?

    The full list of requirements for a RenderMan-compliant renderer
is given in the RenderMan Interface Specification.

    Basically, a RenderMan-compliant renderer should minimally provide
the following features:

	Complete hierarchical graphics state
	Orthographic and perspective viewing transformations
	Hidden surface removal
	Pixel filtering and antialiasing
	Gamma correction and dithering before quantization
	Produce images containing any combination of RGB, A, and Z at a user
	  specified resolution
	Support all of the geometric primitives of the standard (including
	   quadrics, polygons, bilinear and bicubic patches, trimmed NURBS,
	   and subdivision surfaces)
	Programmable shading of lights, surfaces, displacements, and
	   volumes with shaders in RenderMan Shading Language.
	Provide the ability to index texture, environment, and shadow maps.
	Provide the 15 standard light source, surface, volume, and
	   displacement shaders

    This is actually quite a lot -- you'll find few rendering systems,
free or commercial, which provide as many features as even the minimal
RenderMan requirements.

    In addition, RenderMan-compliant renderers may support several
optional capabilities.  Many of these features are very advanced, and
some rendering algorithms simply cannot support certain features, so
the availability will tend to vary from implementation to
implementation.  The optional capabilities include:

	Solid Modeling (CSG)		Special Camera Projections
	Multiple Levels of Detail	Motion Blur
	Depth of Field			Area Light Sources
	Deformations			Displacements
	Spectral Colors			Volume Shading
	Ray Tracing			Radiosity

Q: What do I have to do in order to call my software "RenderMan

    You must support all of the required features, including all of
the geometric primitive types.  You must implement all of the API
calls or RIB requests, even for features you don't support (i.e. at
least have function stubs so your library accepts the calls).  You
must not allow information to be sent through any alternative calls
not defined by the interface, and you may not use any alternate
language for programmable shading.

    If you write a RenderMan compliant renderer, you must obtain a
no-charge license from Pixar (in writing).  You basically attest that
your software is compliant with the standard and that you won't abuse
Pixar's trademark and copyrights.

    Modeling programs which use the RI standard (i.e. output RIB or
make the API calls) may do so without a license, but must display
Pixar's copyrights as follows:

	The RenderMan (R) Interface Procedures and Protocol are:
		Copyright 1988, 1989, Pixar
		  All Rights Reserved

Q: What implementations of the RenderMan standard are available? ---------------------------------------------------------------- A lot has changed in the past few years, now there are a plethora of RenderMan-compliant (or mostly compatible, or somehow related) renderers. Here are the main players, listed roughly in the order that they were made available to the public. The descriptions are supplied mostly by the authors, and the FAQ maintainers makes no specific claims or guarantees about the features or compatibility of the packages, nor should inclusion in the list imply endorsement of any products (except where noted). Lists of RMan-compliant renderers (even more extensive than this one) can be found at http://www.dotcsw.com/links.html and http://www.exluna.com/products/links.html Pixar's implementation of the RenderMan standard is a product called PhotoRealistic RenderMan ("PRMan", for short). PRMan is the most widely used implementation, and in fact dominates the high-end rendering scene for feature films. PRMan has been used by many production houses, including ILM, Digital Domain, Disney, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Tippet, and others. It was used to render effects for The Abyss, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Casper, Apollo 13, Contact, Starship Troopers, Toy Story (Classic and II), A Bug's Life, Star Wars I, Dinosaur, and many many other films. PRMan is sold by Pixar as the "RenderMan Toolkit" and is available for SGI, Sun, DEC Alpha OSF-1, Linux/Intel, Linux/Alpha, and Windows NT/Intel, all at US$5000 per CPU. See www.pixar.com/renderman/artist_tools/tools/ for details. Various older versions of PRMan were sold as MacRenderMan, PRMan on the NeXT computer, and RenderMan for Windows, but these are all defunct. The Blue Moon Rendering Tools (originally written by Larry Gritz, then developed and maintained by Exluna) is probably the most widely used implementation, in terms of number of users. It supported ray tracing, global illumination, caustics, area lights, full implementation of Shading Language, volume and imager shaders, displacements, and other advanced features, long before any other RMan implementations even contemplated such features. BMRT has been used (to varying extents) on several film productions, including A Bug's Life, Stuart Little, Gone in 60 Seconds, and Hollow Man. BMRT was discontinued after Pixar sued Exluna and several of Exluna's founders. RenderDotC (RDC), written by Rick Lamont of Dot C Software, is a RenderMan-compliant REYES renderer for Windows 95/NT, SGI, and Linux. More information from http://www.dotcsw.com/ The University of Erlangen's Vision project is an object-oriented RenderMan-compliant renderer. Information may be found at: http://www9.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/eng/research/rendering/vision Also check out Philipp Slusallek's PhD about the Vision system, available on the same site. They're not terribly specific about the distribution policy -- they seem able to distribute to "selected institutions", but I don't believe they are widely distributing their package. Advanced Rendering Technology (ART) promises a "raytracer on a chip" which is supposed to be compliant with the RenderMan Interface. Info is at: http://www.art-render.com Just in alpha-test is AQSIS (pronounced "axis"), a new RenderMan-compliant renderer. Details from: http://www.maxdepth.demon.co.uk From Scott Iverson, Siren (DOS only) and AIR (Windows) are RenderMan-compliant, plus a few interesting extensions. Details from: http://home.earthlink.net/~jiverson782/Siren.html http://www.sitexgraphics.com/ (for AIR) 3DLight is a RenderMan-compliant REYES renderer. Available for IRIX, Linux (Intel and PPC) and Windows. Info from: http://www.3delight.com/ Exluna, Inc.'s "Entropy" renderer was the commercial big brother of BMRT. But that really doesn't do it justice -- it was very fast and efficient scanline renderer that also supports ray tracing, global illumination, area lights, and caustics. More Info from: http://www.exluna.com. Entropy was used on Star Wars Episode 2, Stuart Little 2, Reign of Fire, Blizzard, Hero, The Returner, and The Core. Entropy and BMRT was discontinued after Pixar sued Exluna and several of Exluna's founders. Q: Is PRMan a ray tracer? How can PRMan do reflections if it's not a ray tracer? Was a ray tracer used for reflections in Toy Story? How about for A Bug's Life? Toy Story 2? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- PRMan IS NOT A RAYTRACER. It uses the Reyes algorithm (much as described in the 1987 SIGGRAPH paper, though with many enhancements and improvements). Environment and reflection mapping do quite reasonable approximations to reflection and refraction, in a fraction of the time it usually takes a ray tracer. Sometimes the reflections don't look quite correct compared to a ray tracer, but this is almost never a problem and almost always worth the time savings. Pixar used the very same version of PRMan for Toy Story (and all their other work) as they sell to the public. You can see examples of how well PRMan does reflections and refractions, not only in Toy Story, but also in The Abyss and Terminator 2. However, ray tracing *was* used for 15 shots of "A Bug's Life." (Look for the glass bottles!) For these shots, BMRT and PRMan were used together (with BMRT doing the ray tracing, PRMan doing everything else). The same technique of combining BMRT and PRMan was also used for "Stuart Little." The method used to combine the renderers is described in the _Advanced RenderMan_ book, as well as in the BMRT documentation (release 2.4 and later). This technique was not used in Toy Story 2. All the reflections in TS2 were good old PRMan environment maps. Q: Is there a Macintosh/OS X/Be/Other port of BMRT? In the works? Will the author of BMRT let me do the port to Mac/OS X/Be/Other ? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Exluna has hinted that they will probably support OS X soon, but no timetable has been announced. Other, more exotic platforms (like BeOS) are not planned. Exluna cannot release the source code for other people to do the port, even under nondisclosure. Q: How can I make objects cast semi-transparent shadows in BMRT? When I try, the shadows look fully opaque. ------------------------------------------------------------------- If your object is semi-transparent and the shader sets Oi to something less than 1 (i.e. it uses "compositing transparency"), then you just need to add this to your RIB file (in the attribute scope of the object in question): Attribute "render" "casts_shadows" ["shade"] (See the BMRT documentation for other options for this command.) BUT... if you have something computing true refraction (like the glass.sl shader that comes with BMRT), then your shader looks something like: ... color cr = Krefr * trace (P, refract (I, N, eta)); Oi = 1; Ci = Cs * (Ka*ambient() + Kd*diffuse(Nf)) + specularcolor * Ks*specular(P,Nf,V,roughness) + transmitcolor * cr ; So that will still cast an opaque shadow because you are explicitly setting Oi=1! (Get it?) The most straightforward way to deal with this (if you have BMRT 2.4 or later) is to use the new built-in isshadowray() function to make your shader set Oi differently for shadow checks: if (isshadowray() == 1) { /* shadow -- fake Oi to be <1 */ Oi = color(1,1,1) - (Kr * transmitcolor); } else { /* viewing ray */ color cr = Krefr * trace (P, refract (I, N, eta)); Oi = 1; Ci = Cs * (Ka*ambient() + Kd*diffuse(Nf)) + specularcolor * Ks*specular(P,Nf,V,roughness) + transmitcolor * cr ; } In combination with the "casts_shadows" ["shade"] attribute, this should do the trick. Q: What alternate bindings exist to support the RenderMan Interface? -------------------------------------------------------------------- Java Bindings for RenderMan from Sean Cier are available from: http://www.PostHorizon.com/RenderMan-java A Perl 5 binding for RenderMan available from Glenn Lewis: http://www.gmlewis.com/renderman Also, Ron Mayer has a page demonstrating the Perl binding at http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/8869/RenderSpiders.html "Terry" Python binding for RenderMan: http://www.lysator.liu.se/~ture/terry.html SnakeMan is another Python binding for RenderMan: http://reality.sgi.com/newquist_engr/snakeman The Python Computer Graphics Kit has RenderMan bindings: http://cgkit.sourceforge.net Michael Johnson has "Adam", a Tcl binding for RenderMan: ftp://ftp.media.mit.edu/pub/WavesWorld/adam.tar.gz Hardcore Processing has a set of Standard ML bindings (!): http://www.HardcoreProcessing.com/pro/riml/index.html If the "client libraries" (C-callable libraries that output RIB) from PRMan or BMRT don't suit your needs, there's also one included (with source) in Thomas Burge's Affine Toolkit: http://www.affine.org/ Q: What front ends (modelers, etc) support the RenderMan Interface? ------------------------------------------------------------------- This information was supplied by many people, so it's hard to verify its accuracy, and it certainly contains individuals' opinions. Often, this info comes from the companies supplying the products. I do not necessarily endorse any of the products listed, though if I find out that any are particularly good or bad, I will note it. The products are listed in no particular order, though I've broken it into the categories of: modelers, plugins or converters, and "other". If you know of other front ends or products which use RenderMan, please send me a short paragraph and I will include it here. Also, additional lists of related products and tools can be found at: http://www.exluna.com/products/links.html and http://www.renderman.org/RMR/OtherLinks/index.html Modelers & Animation Systems which can output RIB natively ---------------------------------------------------------- Side Effects' Houdini system (modeling & animation) has very good RenderMan support (both PRMan and BMRT). It also includes the ability to create shaders *within* the program by a visual means and export out the shader source for tweaking and compiling. [ed. note - I have heard great things about this package.] Details at: www.sidefx.com Rhino is a Windows (NT or 95) based NURBS modeler which recently added RIB support. Their site has a free beta available for download: http://www.rhino3d.com/ Related tools that suppliment Rhino's RIB export (e.g., by making shader assignments easier) include RhinoMan (http://rhinoman.renderology.com/). Also check out J. Aberg's page with tips on using BMRT with Rhino (http://home5.swipnet.se/~w-52046/). Steve May at the Ohio State University has written an animation language ("AL"), inspired by the Menv system that's used at Pixar. It has great RIB support and is programmable in some very interesting ways. It runs on Linux and UNIX platforms and provides a complete, procedurally-oriented interface to PRMan and BMRT. More info is available from: http://www.cgrg.ohio-state.edu/~smay/AL AC3D is a 3D modeler by Andy Colebourne. It's polygon based, but does extrusions, revolutions, etc. It's quite nice, runs on Linux, SGI, Sun, and now Windows, and demo versions are available as shareware. And it outputs RIB, among other formats. More info, and downloading the software, available at: http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/computing/users/andy/ac3dlinux.html Vertigo's Animation Machine software (modeler & animation system) has very nice support for RenderMan output, but it's only a polygon based modeler. You can generate RIB files or render directly. Vertigo comes with the prman runtime library linked in for integrated rendering, or you can buy Vertigo bundled with prman. Their phone number is 604-684-2113. Macromedia's MacroModel's was a spline-based modeler for Mac and Win, with pretty good RIB export. But it's now defunct. So it goes. 3DReality from Stone Design Corp. (505) 345-4800 info@stone.com Runs on NEXTSTEP. A little long in the tooth and has some quirks, but it's built of dynamically loadable bundles and offers a very accesible API for adding your own shapes, tools, etc. Reads and writes RIBS just fine. Really, really good academic discounts and very friendly tech support. Amapi 2.05 is mainly a modeller that is fairly good for creating characters. It uses NURBS, Splines and Polys. Intuitive interface unlike any. http://www.tgs.com Alias PowerAnimator (also for SGI), versions 5 & 6, output rib, NURBS including trim curves. [ed. note: Alias's RIB output is notoriously mediocre.] Intuitiv'3d from Intuitive Systems, Inc. tel: 415-852-0245 fax:415-852-1271, info@intuisys.com. Runs on NEXTSTEP. Sports a terrific interface but is rather slow. Great realtime previews of lighting and shape, so-so modeling tools, great shader manipulation, including "MetaShaders" which store surface, color, displacement and lighting shader info in a single entity. Reads RIBS but saves to its own proprietary format (.i3dw) solidThinking from Gestel Italia, Phone: ++ 39 0444 99 11 00 Fax: ++ 39 0444 99 11 08 Email: info@solid.gestel.it, WWW: http://www.gestel.it For Windows 95/NT, this industrial-strength modeler from Italy approaches Alias in its power and refinement. Great modeling tools including NURBS, control of every RenderMan parameter, fast and smooth manipulation of objects and lights. Reads and writes RIBS, support for both PRMan and BMRT, reads Wavefront, TDDD and DXF files too. Breeze Designer is a 32-bit 3D modelling and design tool for Windows NT, Windows 95 and Win32s with exports for the Persistance of Vision raytracer, RenderMan, and VRML. Breeze Designer is still under developement, and updated are posted regularly. The beta latest beta version is available from the above location. All beta's are distributed as copyright freeware. ftp://ftp.povray.org/pub/povray/utilities/modellers/breeze/BreezeDesigner.html The Valis Group's Pixel Putty Solo for the Mac ($349 retail, $299 direct?) offers an extremely versatile and fluid spline-based modeler featuring nine different NURBS, lattice deformations and boolean operations on patches, direct rendering to RenderMan using .slo shaders, and event-based key frame animation with inverse kinematics. More information can be had from Valis at: VALISGROUP@aol.com or 1-800-VALIS-04. Alias Sketch 2.0 for the Mac is a spline and polygon surface modeler which supports NURBS but does not have shader support. Price is around $600. Autodesys form*Z is a CAD modeler on the Mac and Win95/NTwhich goes for $1500. Polygons, CSG, and spline meshes are supported. No direct shader support. VIDI's Presenter Professional for the Mac ($1500) is a spline/patch-mesh based modeler with excellent RenderMan support; you can manipulate shader parameters and everything. More info at: http://www.vidi.com There's also a site at http://www.webnation.com/vidi/ which contains more info and some useful shaders. FastCad 3D by Evolution Computing; 437 South 48th Street, Suite 106; Tempe, AZ 85281; Phone: (602) 967-8633. FastCad 3D is a 3-D modeling system capable of producing a RIB file for rendering with a program like Pixar's Renderman for Windows. This DOS program can produce 3D models quickly due to the fact that it is written in Assembly language. DesignCad 3D for the Mac and Windows ($500) is a polygonal surface modeler which outputs RIB. Supports CSG. No direct shader support. More information from http://www.viagrafix.com VisLab 3D Animation Software by Engineering Animation Inc.has a full renderman interface. Normal rendering is done entirely in hardware, but everything can be automatically piped over to prman, or written out as an .rib file. Both hardware and prman can also be combined in the same scene. The interface is really great. Contact: Engineering Animation Inc., 2321 North Loop Drive, Ames, IA 50010, 515-296-9908 Poser 4 is a human shape and pose modeler from Curious Labs Inc. which supports animation, clothing, and exchanging body parts with various 3D objects. It runs on Mac, PowerMac, and Windows. It can export RIB. Details can be found at http://www.curiouslabs.com/ or by calling (831) 462-8222. (note: the RIB export was fixed by a patch which had the unfortunate timing of coming out right before BMRT's path convention was changed to UNIX-style, thus exported RIB files will require hand editing where texture maps are called) ThreeD, by Kieran Jones is a scene modeler that runs under NEXTSTEP and supports RenderMan. I haven't tried it, but it's available for FTP from ftp://next-ftp.peak.org/pub/next/apps/graphics/2D_3D/ThreeD.06.NIHS.b.tar.gz You can contact the author at kjones@vcn.bc.ca. ShellyLib2.0, a shell-shape-generator which outputs RIB (among other formats). is available from http://www.shelly.core.de/ VTK, Bill Lorensen's OO scientific visualization toolkit, can now output RIB. It's not really a modeler, but if you're into SciVi, you may think this is very cool. See http://www.crd.ge.com/~lorensen/vtkrib PhotoSynthesis 1.0 is a primitive modeler that has full support for RenderMan on PowerMac platform. Rendering features include automatic reflection and shadow generation, softbox reflections, and easily set-up Depth of Field blur. Shaders are fully supported with unique 3D cursor that replaces Up/At Vector. Exports RIB file format. Full featured NURBS, Boolean Operations and 3DMF File Import/Export will be available in Spring of '97. Available directly from Silver Creek Software. For more information call 888/880-0551, e-mail SilverCSW@aol.com, or see their WWW site at http://www.navicom.com/~silvercsw Ayam (formerly known as Mops), from Randolph Schultz, is a free modeling environment which can write RIB files. It's available precompiled for SGI, Linux, and NT. The home page is: http://www.ayam3d.org/ "Shade" is a modeler/renderer that, among other things, claims to be able to export its object models as RIB. It runs under NT. More details are available from: http://www.ex-tools.co.jp/product/shade/shddeb_e.html Geometique is a subdivision surface modeler that can output RIB. It runs under NT. More details are available from http://www.geometique.com/ Julian Fong has written "L2RIB" (http://www.levork.org/l2rib.html) which converts Lego (yes, the toy) models created with LDraw (http://www.ldraw.org/) into RIB files. Converters & plug-ins for modelers ---------------------------------- Pixar's new MTOR product is a Maya plugin that produces excellent RenderMan output, just as ATOR was for Alias. Also includes compositing software and a system for distributing rendering jobs across a network. Details available directly from Pixar. DriveMan from Gestel Italia converts IGES and Alias Wire files to RenderMan, for use with either PRMan or BMRT. There's both a freeware version and a more complete commercial version. More information from: http://www.gestel.it/driveman/index.html SoRender is a freely distributed interactive graphical interface from Softimage to the RenderMan standard. The interface is currently composed of eight tools that are all written as plug-ins to Softimage and are built on Softimage's DKit. Features Include: Interactive Previewing of RenderMan rendered images from within Softimage; Interactive tools for working with shaders and adjusting parameters; Tools to make working with shadow maps and environment maps easier; Shader Keywords to facilitate parameter animation; Support of both PhotoRealistic RenderMan and BMRT; Access to all tools from within Softimage; Support of motion blur. SoRender can be obtained at http://www-viz.tamu.edu/software/SoRender.homepage.html A MentalRay-to-RenderMan converter: http://www.dctsystems.freeserve.co.uk/ethel.html WaveMan, a Wavefront-to-RenderMan conversion tool, is available from Minds Eye Graphics (mindseye@infi.net, 804-643-3713). Animal Logic sells plugins for both SoftImage and 3D Studio Max that output to RenderMan and BMRT. Details about SoftMan and MaxMan Details can be found at: http://www.animalogic.com/Products Lost In Space makes a product called Siren which converts SoftImage scenes into RIB files. Info is available from siren@lostinspace.com. Siren converts Softimage 3D scene and model files into RenderMan RIB and shader files. Siren 2.0 works only on SGI's running IRIX 4.0.5 or later. It can read Softimage 2.66 scene/model files. SiRen only has a comandline/scripted interface, but is now being upgraded to a point and click version 2.1. To run siren you must have a copy of the Softimage Developers Kit. US$2000 per license, bulk discounts available. 30% discount for educational institutions. Source licensing is available. Siren + Renderman deals available. Pay for Siren2.0 and get a free upgrade to Siren2.1 when it is released. There is a 3D Studio to RIB converter by Alex Segal on the net, see http://www.r-m-c.ru/video/3ds2rib.htm for details. Envisions Solutions sells Envision-It, which converts DXF to RIB. Not a modeler. Sells for around $200. Okino Computer Graphics, Inc. has two products called the 'NuGraf Rendering System' and 'PolyTrans', which include Renderman export capability. It can convert from DXF, 3D Studio, Lightwave, OpenFlight, IGES 5.3, Wavefront, SoftImage and many more (the latter 3 formats allow output of trimmed NURBS to Renderman in a clean form). Output of animation data from Lightwave and 3D Studio to Renderman will follow in v2.1 of PolyTrans. A demo and other info are available from the WWW site: http://www.okino.com/conv/conv.htm Contact: 905-672-9328 (voice), 905-672-2706 (fax). Viewpoint Datalabs has a product called InterChange (formerly Syndesis InterChange) for Windows and SGI, that converts between more than fifty 3D file formats, including Softimage, Alias, LightWave, 3D Studio and many others. It can export geometry to a simple RIB file. For info, see: http://www.viewpoint.com/ Cow House has a free converters from Inventor2.0 and VRML to RenderMan & BMRT. For details, see: http://www.cowhouse.com/Home/Converters/converters.html There's a plugin for Moray (a modeler for POV-Ray) that will output RIB. Only geometry is exported, and only for the simple primitives. Details at: http://pages.hotbot.com/arts/are/index.html LtoR is a plugin for NewTek's Lightwave 3D to output RIB. The web page is in Japanese, but the software reportedly works fine and has its UI in English. The software home page is: http://www.win.ne.jp/~s-shirai/html/plugin/ltor.html Another Lightwave-to-RIB converter is CeX3D. It's commercial, but a demo version is available at http://www.CeX3D.net/ LightMan, by Tim Dapper, is a LightWave plugin that exports to RenderMan-compliant renderers. Info can be found at: http://www.td-grafik.de/softw/lightman.php3 The Cornell Theory Center has an extension to Data Explorer (http://www.opendx.org/index2.php) that exports for BMRT (and presumably for other compatible renderers). Info from: ftp://ftp.tc.cornell.edu/pub/Data.Explorer/extensions/Rendering/README Mike Hough has written a RIB export plugin for Hash Animation Master '99, available from: http://free.prohosting.com/~olana/plugins/am2rib/ Another Hash Animation Master plugin by Nicholas Yue is available at http://users.tpg.com.au/tmyue/ Other Tools ----------- RenderWrapper (RW) is a simple Tcl/Tk script for conveniently setting the parameters for the rendrib, rgl, and rendribv renderers from BMRT. It provides a GUI for rendering single or multiple frames in wireframe, polygon, and photorealistic modes. RW runs on Unix and Windoze95/NT systems. It is FREE and can be downloaded from: http://tangle.seas.gwu.edu/~gogo/rendwrap.html The Affine Toolkit by Thomas E. Burge contains a number of RIB filters and massagers, including binary RIB dumping and conversion utilities, utilities to parameterize NURBS in RIB files by arc length, polish up RIB files generated by Alias, etc. More info and download at: http://www.affine.org/ Cinema Graphics is now selling a product called "Shade Tree" which is a dataflow system for writing RenderMan shaders. Info at http://www.cinegrfx.com/ Pixar used to sell Showplace for the Mac and Typestry 2 for the Mac and PC. They're nice little programs if you can get your hands on them, but Pixar no longer sells these. WavesWorld, a set of UI, modeling and animation objects available only atop NEXTSTEP, available via http://xenia.media.mit.edu/~wave/ An object oriented framework consisting of two "kits" of objects and lots of examples, WavesWorld is based directly atop the RenderMan interface. Wave has also made available a Tcl binding for RenderMan. Q: What other net resources exist which are related to RenderMan? ----------------------------------------------------------------- Pixar home page: http://www.pixar.com Pay particular attention to http://www.pixar.com/renderman/developers_corner/rispec/index.html which has the RenderMan spec and all of the documentation for PRMan. The Exluna home page is: www.exluna.com Especially noted is the list of links: http://www.exluna.com/products/links.html Tal Lancaster of CalTech (now a TD at Disney) has set up a "RenderMan Repository" for dissemination of shaders, RIB files, etc. Among other things, this site has pointers to just about everything else that has RenderMan related stuff. Here's the URL: http://www.renderman.org/RMR The Ebert, et al. book _Texturing and Modeling_ (mentioned earlier) has an FTP site with the examples from the book, including RenderMan Shading Language source code: ftp://archive.cs.umbc.edu/pub/textures Professor Ken Musgrave (one of the authors of the T&M book) taught a graduate seminar at GWU on procedural texturing. Student projects, images, and shaders can be found at: http://www.seas.gwu.edu/graphics/ProcTexCourse/ Similarly, Stephen May recently taught a course on digital lighting at Ohio State. A Shading Language tutorial and student projects can be found at these addresses: http://www.cgrg.ohio-state.edu/~smay/DigitalLighting/Course.html http://www.cgrg.ohio-state.edu/~smay/RManNotes/RManNotes.html Michael B. Johnson (a.k.a. "Wave") has a home page at: http://wave.www.media.mit.edu/people/wave/ He's built a lot of software that runs on top of RenderMan (see the description of WavesWorld earlier in this FAQ). Geomview is an interactive 3D geometry (in the mathematical sense) viewing program written at the Geometry Center. It can export RIB. URL is http://www.geom.umn.edu/software/download/geomview.html Doug Ward has a site that's about using VIDI Presenter 3D. If you look on: http://www.webnation.com/vidi/ (select the shaders button on the frame) you'll find some shaders and other goodies that may be useful even if you don't use Presenter. Tips on using Houdini and RenderMan together are available from: http://www.renderman.org/RMR/rmHoudini/ RenderMania, maintained by Simon Bunker, is another collection of links and useful information about rendering and production, and in particular things related to BMRT and RenderMan: http://www.rendermania.com/ Shaders, textures, models, and so on are available from TurboSquid (http://www.turbosquid.com). There are a bunch of RenderMan shaders compiled for both PRMan and BMRT available for $10 each. Malcolm Kesson has course notes on using RenderMan available at http://cmpa.ca.scad.edu/faculty/kesson/Ca301/bookindex.html Q: Where can I get the Pixar videos? ------------------------------------ Pixar's animation video (which contains Luxo Jr, Reds Dream, Tin Toy and Knickknack) is available directly from Pixar. The cost is $25.00. Just call 1 800-888-9856 or 510-236-4000. The tape is available in both VHS NTSC and PAL formats. The Pixar shorts were released by Disney Home Video as "Tiny Toy Stories". You should be able to find them at your local video store for around $10. Recently, Pixar shorts have been made available in quicktime format on their website, at: http://www.pixar.com/shorts/index.html Q: What is the correct capitalization of "Pixar"? ------------------------------------------------- It's written "Pixar", just as it is throughout this FAQ. I don't know why people keep capitalizing it, perhaps they are trying to duplicate the logo, which is in a particular typeface and happens to be all caps. In any case, it's not an acronym like IBM. It's a regular company name like Disney. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- This FAQ was mostly written and maintained by Larry Gritz, who wishes to thank the contributions of: Antoine Durr, J.J. Hoesing, Steve Hollasch, Michael B. Johnson, Joshua Kolden, Andrew MacRae, Nino Mendolia, David Milner, Pohl Longsine, Steve Weintz, and others. Please send comments, additions, gripes to: lg AT larrygritz DOT com -- Larry Gritz lg AT larrygritz.com

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