What is the price?
RenderMan for Maya will sell for $995.00 US, and will be available from our website for purchase and immediate download. The online purchasing system will accept the 4 major credit cards (MC, Visa, Amex and Discover)
When will it be available?
We expect to enter product beta testing in October. Depending upon how the beta testing progresses, we expect the product to be ready for purchase December 2004 or possibly January 2005.
Where can I purchase it?
It will be available for purchase from our website.
Is there an upgrade path to the RAT tools?
Currently no. These are independent products, although at some time in the future it's possible that some of the newer capabilities from this product may make it into the RenderMan Artist Tools product.
Is there a demo version?
A free, one-time evaluation copy of the software will be available. The evaluation version will be fully functional for 30 days. A valid credit card will be required to download the evaluation, however the card will not be charged for this transaction.
Is there a personal educational discount available?
No. Because this product is being sold directly via the web, there is no way to validate personal educational status. RenderMan for Maya will be made available to appropriate universities on a case-by-case basis.
May I be a beta tester?
Initial beta testing will be carried out by our existing maintenance customers. At some time during this testing period it is possible that we may want to extend beta testing outside to get wider testing. If this time comes, we will put up a notice on our support forum
requesting additional beta testers. If you are interested in testing, we would suggest that you register for our support forums, and monitor the public forums for announcements on this product.
May I be a reseller?
During the initial phases of selling this product we will be selling direct via the internet, without using resellers.
What platforms will it be available for?
Initially this product will be available for Windows XP and Mac OS X. We are investigating the possibility of providing a Linux version.
How is it different from MTOR?
MTOR and the RAT tools have a very RenderMan-centric workflow. Models and animation data is translated by MTOR, but there is no attempt to translate Maya shading nodes in the RAT tools. Shaders are created in an external application called Slim, and attached to the Maya geometry via MTOR. When a Maya scene is rendered, a RIB file is automatically generated, and passed on to Alfred to handle the rendering. Alfred can submit the job for rendering on the local machine, or send the RIB file(s) to multiple machines on the network for rendering..
RenderMan for Maya is much more integrated using the Maya renderer API. By simply selecting RenderMan as the renderer from the Maya Render Globals window, you've now chosen to use this product. RenderMan for Maya will attempt to translate all Maya shading nodes to provide you with a picture that is very close to what the internal Maya renderer would create. The user has the ability, however, to attach extra RenderMan attributes that are known by this product, which provide extra capabilities, such as deep shadows, global illumination etc.
Does it support hair or fur?
Currently, there really isn't a rendering API to hair and fur. The fur API, as it exists, doesn't provide a rendering plugin with enough information to exactly match Maya fur. But, it does provide control curves, which RenderMan for Maya will use to generate fur, which we will attempt to make similar to Maya's fur. We cannot exactly match the Maya renderer at this time, but you should still be able to use the controls to get great fur pictures.
There is even less information available to a rendering plugin about Maya hair, so at this point, hair is not supported. We are working closely with Alias' engineering department to try to develop an API to hair, such that future versions of the product may have hair support.
What nodes does it support?
Although our intent is to support all Maya shading and utility nodes, the reality of the situation is that this is a huge undertaking to do this. Beta 1 will go out with a fairly complete set of supported nodes. During the beta process we will make the determination, with our testers, as to which nodes must absolutely be supported, and efforts will be made to finish those nodes first, and then the less important nodes as time allows. At the time we go to release it's quite likely that we will support most nodes. At that time we will publish a list of the unsupported nodes.
How do you support subdivision surfaces (creases etc)?
RenderMan for Maya will convert the level one mesh of a Maya subdivision surface. Hierarchical edits at level two or beyond can not be converted.
Is it limited in any way, with respect to your Pro Server product?
Yes, there must be some limitations. If you consider that RenderMan for Maya is somewhat a combination of the capabilities of two products, MTOR (for Maya scene translation), and RenderMan Pro Server (for rendering), the combined price of those two products is $5500. We are offering RenderMan for Maya for only $995, so what's the catch?
We could have limited the product in some quality way, like limiting the size of the output images, or the quality of the filtering, etc. Instead, we chose to limit the product in it's connectivity to the outside Pro Server world.
Here is what we believe to be the few minor limitations of this product:
There is no RIB in or out of this product. You cannot take this product, write a RIB file and send it off to your renderfarm to be rendered with Pro Server. Neither can it read RIB from any source.
No DSO's. You cannot write a DSO to extend the renderer capabilities. Fur will be handled natively by this renderer, without the use of DSO's.
It is not multithreaded, and cannot run multiple copies on a single license.
The renderer is embedded as a plugin to Maya, and therefore Maya is always resident in memory.
Does it support motion blur?
Yes. Motion blur will be an option in the Render Globals.
Does it support global illumination?
Yes. RenderMan for Maya will support ambient occlusion and "final gather" style of illumination. These capabilities are enabled by custom attributes at the Render Globals or surface shader level.
Yes, as with GI above, extra attributes will be added to control sub-surface scatter effects.
Can I write RenderMan shaders?
The primary workflow is to use the Maya hypershade editor to create shading networks, and RenderMan for Maya will translate these networks on the fly. In our initial announcement at Siggraph we indicated that we would not provide the shader compiler with this product. After listening to customer feedback, we have decided to include the shader compiler. Users can attach a RenderMan surface, displacement and atmosphere shader to any piece of geometry.
Does it make use of two processors on a dual processor machine?
No, only a single processor will be used when rendering interactively from within Maya. During batch mode rendering it will be possible to have two processors rendering different frames simultaneously, however this will consume two licenses.
Is it better than the Maya renderer? The Mental Ray renderer?
At the core of RenderMan for Maya is the same rendering code used in our RenderMan Pro Server product. This renderer has been engineered to effectively deal with industrial-strength scenes. Literally hundreds of feature films have been rendered with Pixar's renderer, including every film for Pixar.
As with any software product, RenderMan for Maya may or may not suit your specific needs. For that reason, we offer to let you download and try the product free for 30 days. We do believe that our renderer will deliver images where others fail. The renderer embedded in the product has a proven history, and has not been crippled in any which which would affect your ability to use it.
Can it do network rendering?
RenderMan for Maya is a plugin to Maya, and provides exactly the same remote or network rendering capabilities. Maya batch can be used to render on remote workstations. When used in this mode, Maya will consume a batch render license, and RenderMan for Maya will consume one full license.
If you have a current network distribution system in place which works with Maya, it should work without any changes. Pixar's product Alfred, from the RenderMan Artist Tools, can also be used to distribute RenderMan for Maya rendering.
How about support for AOVs (arbitrary output vars)?
The short answer is yes. The details: To use arbitrary outputs as an output display, there must be a cooperating shader which presents the desired output variable to the display system. As the product is available, there are current around 10 to 15 pre-defined output variables. If you are writing your own shaders with the shader compiler, then you will be able to create additional AOVs.