If creating big budget animated films such as those produced by Pixar and Dreamworks has been on your bucket list, we have good news for you, friends. Pixar has just announced that they have released their RenderMan software into the wild for non-commercial use.

Although the software isn’t an all-in-one modeling, rendering and animation package such as MODO, it has been used by Pixar as an add-on to existing 3D modeling programs to create Render Everything You’ve Ever Seen (REYES)-based photorealistic 3D renderings. As a matter of fact, the software is responsible for more than a few Academy Awards including those won by Pixar as well as other Hollywood blockbusters including James Cameron’s Titanic.

Its creators, Ed Catmull, Loren Carpenter and Rob Cook are considered renegades in the 3D industry and have even won an award from the Academy for “significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar’s RenderMan”. It is the first software package to be awarded for an Academy award.

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Currently, RenderMan is shipping with artist-friendly plugins for Autodesk’s Maya and The Foundry’s Katana with Cinema4D and Houdini support on the way. While they don’t have an estimated time frame, the company is also working towards developing plugins for 3DS Max, MODO, Mcneel’s Rhino, Lightwave, Blender and Nuke.

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While the software is free for non-commercial use, those who choose to use it for commercial-based work have the option to purchase a license for $500 before releasing their final products. Additionally, the company has provided over five hours of training material to get new users up and running in a day.

20-years-pixar-rendermanClick to see the history of RenderMan in Pixar films

Try it for yourself by downloading it over at Pixar.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.