Frozen, The Hobbit, Toy Story, Wall-E, Jurassic Park... these are just a handful of the blockbuster movies over the years that have utilized Pixar's award-winning VFX software, RenderMan. In fact, RenderMan has been around since 1984 - used to render computer graphics in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Now you have the chance to own the software yourself - for free! You read that right - FREE! You can register today for a non-commercial licensed download of the latest version set to be released sometime around August following the SIGGRAPH 2014 time frame.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait - non-commercial? What's that all about?
It's pretty simple. You can use the same full-featured software that commercial licensees are receiving; you just can't make money with what you create. More specifically, Pixar explains non-commercial to mean,
"Any usage of RenderMan that does not involve direct commercial use to generate profits. Examples of non-commercial use-cases include evaluations, personal learning and familiarization, student usage, any type of experimentation, research, and the development of tools and plug-ins that compliment the RenderMan and new RIS framework."
What if I want to use non-commercial RenderMan for commercial work?
This is the best part: if you rendered something amazing you're able to use in a commercial way, you simply have to contact them at email@example.com to get a custom commercial package put together for you. That is a pretty sweet deal for an initial investment of zilch.
With a completely new price restructuring (a commercial license is down to $495 with an annual maintenance fee of $200), Pixar seems to be looking to get their software in a lot more animator's hands. With the complete functionality of the commercially licensed version, getting a copy to play with is a no-brainer for anyone involved in computer animation. Don't understand why they'd just give the software away? Pixar elaborates:
"This is a strategic and long-term commitment by Disney / Pixar to the advancement and dissemination of the production industries most advanced rendering technologies and the interchange of assets in common formats. First, RenderMan going forwards will be the conduit through which applicable rendering technologies developed within Disney / Pixar research will be channeled into the public domain to establish a common platform for production, research and development, trials and experimentation, learning, and other applications. Second, it is Pixar’s belief that limitations on software access have become a brake on the development of the production industry, and that universal access and a set of common standards and practices can only stimulate greater growth and development. Third, existing trial and evaluation methods of providing access through watermarked or time-expiry licenses are unsatisfying for proper evaluation. The resources and technology now being invested in RenderMan are of superior quality and will continue to anticipate the needs of film production imagery as Pixar has over the past 25-years. Providing RenderMan free for non-commercial usage represents the commitment of Disney / Pixar that RenderMan is the long-term film rendering standard."
So what are you waiting for? Go and register to be notified when it's available!
Even more information is available at the FAQ.